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Automotive Industry BMW iX Cockpit: Fabrication Using Artificial Intelligence and Digital Twin

Editor: Nicole Kareta

For the production of the BMW iX cockpit, the BMW Group uses a component simulation based on Artificial Intelligence methods. The result is a material mix of plastic and metal, which offers the advantages of saving energy and materials and shortening pre-development times. With the help of AI, optimal parameter sets can also be defined.

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At the BMW Group plant in Landshut, around 3,600 employees produce engine, chassis and body structural components made of light metal castings, plastic components for the vehicle exterior, body components made of carbon, cockpit and equipment surrounds, components for electric drive systems, special engines and drive shafts.
At the BMW Group plant in Landshut, around 3,600 employees produce engine, chassis and body structural components made of light metal castings, plastic components for the vehicle exterior, body components made of carbon, cockpit and equipment surrounds, components for electric drive systems, special engines and drive shafts.
(Source: BMW Group)

The BMW Group plant in Landshut is relying on artificial intelligence (AI) to manufacture the cockpit for the BMW iX, whose production will start in Dingolfing in the summer of this year. In order to save vehicle weight and thus CO2, a highly innovative, low-weight hybrid support structure is being used for the first time instead of a conventional metallic support structure for the necessary substructure of the BMW iX cockpit. It consists of an intelligent material mix of metal and plastic. One challenge in the production of this new hybrid support structure is that the high quality requirements and tight measurement tolerances for the tools used to manufacture the instrument panels cannot simply be transferred from metal to plastic using conventional testing methods and simulations. AI and the use of an innovative simulation method known as the digital twin provide a remedy.

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Here, AI is used to simulate the production of the support structure for the BMW iX cockpit as if a real component were being injection molded. "Using special AI software, we create a digital twin of the real component and can thus digitally simulate the entire manufacturing process with all its physical properties," explains project manager Bernhard Melzl. "In this way, we can digitally test a wide variety of combinations of component and tool parameters - and identify any cause-effect relationships virtually, long before the first real components are manufactured. "The influencing variables that are digitally examined by the Landshut cockpit experts include, for example, the injection or filling speed of the plastic, the temperatures of the plastic melt and the molds, and a variation of possible wall thicknesses of the plastic in the individual component areas.

Virtual testing with the digital twin has significant advantages: Conventional testing before the actual start of production can be largely avoided. They are time-consuming and costly - and can take several weeks or months to complete. Virtual testing with the digital twin significantly shortens pre-development times. "We also reduce the use of resources such as materials and energy," says Melzl. In addition, the digital AI simulation can be used to simulate the optimal set of parameters for the subsequent production of the BMW iX cockpits.

"This optimization method is revolutionary because, for the first time, it is not based on human assessment and experience, but identifies the physically possible optimum for our cockpit components," says Melzl. Previous simulations are based on a fixed set of parameters that an engineer specifies, relying on what he has learned as well as his intuition. "Humans, however, cannot oversee physics in its entirety," Melzl says. It is only through the use of AI that the Landshut cockpit experts are able to meet the high quality requirements even for the innovative metal-plastic material mix - instead of the metal components that have been customary up to now. The new material combination will be used for the first time in series production for the cockpits of the BMW iX.

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