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Volkswagen Group Accelerates 3D Data Preparation and Remote Rendering for VR on AWS


Global automotive manufacturer Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen) is building virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications to save time, reduce costs, and improve performance for use cases across the product lifecycle, from design reviews and training simulations to remote guidance in the factory. In its efforts to scale AR/VR, Volkswagen needed a faster, simpler, and more efficient way to prepare and deliver 3D content across its organization. The company developed a cloud architecture on which it can accomplish two things: automating its 3D data preparation pipelines for faster and simpler optimization of 3D models and testing the ability to remotely render and stream 3D graphics to AR/VR headsets, moving away from headsets constrained by a tether to expensive workstations.

To achieve this, Volkswagen is using Amazon Web Services (AWS) to migrate specific VR rendering and 3D data optimization workloads to the cloud. It’s also using a custom application, called Innoactive Portal, that was developed alongside VR software company Innoactive to deploy and manage VR applications. Using several AWS services, including Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS)—a fully managed container orchestration service that makes it simple to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications—Volkswagen is making its 3D data preparation pipeline more efficient and increasing its rendering power and speed in the cloud.

Jan-Paul Brückmann, Product Owner, Volkswagen Digital Realities Hub

It’s simple and effective for us to use AWS because there are so many native services that support our goals and architecture drafts.”

Jan-Paul Brückmann
Product Owner, Volkswagen Digital Realities Hub

Overcoming VR Challenges by Optimizing in the Cloud

Based in Germany and operating worldwide, Volkswagen manufactures 10 major car brands at nearly 120 production plants. The company wanted to use VR technology for multiple use cases, including quality assurance, employee training, and preplanning production lines. With more than 600,000 employees who could benefit from VR technology, Volkswagen needed an efficient, flexible architecture that would remove the limitations common to traditional VR systems: workstations, tethers, and external tracking equipment. Although wireless AR/VR headsets will bring Volkswagen closer to its goal of giving headsets to more of its target audience, the devices’ limited processing power presented additional challenges. “The amount of 3D data we needed to process was too large for any currently available wireless VR headset to handle,” says Adrian Staude, business partner manager for the Volkswagen Digital Realities Hub.

To overcome this challenge, the company began redesigning its architecture in 2021 to focus on two initiatives: optimizing its data preparation pipeline to reduce the density of 3D data that devices must render and offloading near-real-time rendering workloads to the cloud to provide users with more processing power, availability, and flexibility. Volkswagen had previously used AWS services and knew that AWS could support its hardware needs—for example, dedicated GPUs for VR workloads on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which provides secure, resizable compute capacity to support virtually any workload. “AWS provides a huge variety of GPUs on Amazon EC2 instances,” says Staude. “We can always pick the right hardware for the occurring workload.”

Volkswagen also implemented the Volkswagen Digital Realities Hub, a VR software management system that it created with Innoactive. Using this VR content management system, Volkswagen can provide users with a catalog of available applications that support various use cases and better manage the data pipeline from storage to application.

Accelerating 3D Data Preparation and VR Rendering on AWS

Reducing the amount of 3D data that the company must render and stream to VR devices is key in making the technology more accessible, efficient, and affordable. “We used to do much of our 3D data preparation manually,” says Staude. “It took approximately 5 hours per 3D asset.” Now, the company is accelerating this process in the cloud by using Amazon ECS to improve the speed of its 3D data optimization application. Outsourcing 3D data preparation to the cloud frees up computers that would otherwise be locked up for hours per day. It also makes the entire pipeline faster and more accessible. One of Volkswagen’s most important 3D data preparation tools is Pixyz Scenario Processor, which automatically transforms complex 3D data into optimized 3D assets that are ready to be used with Unity. The tool is available on AWS Marketplace—where companies can find, test, buy, and deploy software that runs on AWS. It runs in a serverless container on Amazon ECS, so Volkswagen can use it as part of a more dynamic and connected pipeline on AWS. The company also uses AWS Lambda, a serverless compute service that lets users run code without managing servers, to automate compute provisioning and the system’s response to new data in storage.

Meanwhile, replacing large, expensive on-premises workstations with agile cloud computing removes major roadblocks to VR adoption. Volkswagen is testing its ability to perform rendering in the cloud using Amazon EC2 G4 Instances, powered by NVIDIA T4 GPUs. Amazon EC2 G4 Instances are cost-effective GPU instances for machine learning and graphics-intensive applications and provide scalable GPU performance in the cloud. The company’s proof-of-concept system can stream pixels directly to VR devices in near real time using NVIDIA CloudXR, an AR/VR streaming protocol. “Using this solution, we wouldn’t have to do any processing on premises anymore,” says Staude. “We could just stream the application from a powerful compute cluster on AWS.”

The scalability of AWS services means that Volkswagen can seamlessly scale down when needed. This also applies to Volkswagen’s backend storage and 3D asset management. The company uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)—an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance—to make its 3D data highly available to devices at all its locations. Using a combination of powerful Amazon EC2 instances, flexible container performance, scalable cloud storage, high-performance streaming, and Innoactive’s software, Volkswagen is working to make VR technology more accessible to its employees and reduce the time and costs associated with 3D rendering. “It’s simple and effective for us to use AWS because there are so many native services that support our goals and architecture drafts,” says Jan-Paul Brückmann, product owner for the Volkswagen Digital Realities Hub. “Everything is clear about using the services and building applications on AWS.”

Planning for Cross-Reality Innovations in the Cloud

Volkswagen is working to simplify and improve the VR experience while making its infrastructure more efficient, powerful, and flexible in the cloud. “In the next 5 years, we want to bring many more services to the Volkswagen Digital Realities Hub and continue to make the user journey better,” says Brückmann.

On AWS, Volkswagen is preparing for a future in which its employees can access historically complex AR/VR technology with ease, empowering them to use VR environments that improve productivity and collaboration from any device—anywhere and at any time.

About Volkswagen Group

International automotive manufacturer Volkswagen Group builds vehicles for 10 automotive brands, including Volkswagen passenger cars, Audi, and Bentley. The group also manufactures light-duty commercial vehicles and provides financial services.

Benefits of AWS

  • Accelerates 3D rendering
  • Accelerates 3D data preparation
  • Reduced costs of compute and storage
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Improved infrastructure scalability

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon EC2 provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud.

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Amazon S3

Amazon S3 is an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a serverless compute service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers, creating workload-aware cluster scaling logic, maintaining event integrations, or managing runtimes. 

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Amazon ECS

Amazon ECS is a fully managed container orchestration service.

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