Hyundai and Unity Team Up to Bring a Car Factory into the Metaverse

Partnership would build a digital twin of the carmaker’s high-tech innovation hub.

(Image courtesy of Hyundai.)

(Image courtesy of Hyundai.)

Carmaker Hyundai is partnering with Unity—a 3D content platform known for video games such as Temple Run and Angry Birds—to jointly design and build a digital twin of an entire automotive factory.

The partnership, announced at CES 2022, aligns with Hyundai’s ambition to become the first mobility company to build a Meta-Factory concept. The two companies will build a duplicate of the Hyundai Mobility Global Innovation Center facility in Singapore (HMGICS), which is anticipated to come online at the end of 2022. HMGICS is already being planned as a hub for innovation, research and development in mobility technologies and services. At the facility, Unity will work with Hyundai in intelligent manufacturing, integrating artificial intelligence, 5G, and other advanced manufacturing technologies into the auto factory floor.

“HMGICS will become a manufacturing innovation ‘game changer’ through this world class Meta-Factory collaboration,” said Youngcho Chi, president and chief innovation officer of Hyundai Motor Group. “And HMGICS will lead the future innovation by introducing various technologies that will transform mobility paradigm through human-centered value chain innovation.”

(Image courtesy of Hyundai.)

(Image courtesy of Hyundai.)

The digital twin factory would be a near real-time representation of the actual HMGICS facility. A digital twin connects objects generating real-time data, such as factory machines and other Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled technologies, in a digital space. The digital twin factory would aggregate data from products, processes and staff to create an evolving digital profile based on historical and current behavior. As a result, the factory operator can more accurately predict and plan for possible outcomes—from process inefficiencies to individual robot performance thresholds to machine breakdowns.

This will allow Hyundai to test run an entire factory virtually to optimize plant operations. Factory managers and operators will also be able to solve problems remotely, without having to be on-site.

Hyundai will be able to use the digital twin to test out new strategies and modes of operation virtually before investing in their real-world implementation, saving time and money as well as helping to identify possible flaws before deployment. And once deployed, the digital twin factory will be able to analyze the facility’s performance down to the wear and tear on each individual nut and bolt at each stage of production. Functions such as predictive maintenance can alert operators to potential equipment breakdowns, saving more time and money by preventing them before they happen.

“Real-time digital twins will permanently change how we live, work, shop and make a positive impact on our planet, representing a significant component of what is often referred to as the metaverse,” said John Riccitiello, chief executive officer of Unity. “Hyundai’s vision for the future, including the digital twin of factory operations, represents a significant technological step forward in manufacturing with unlimited potential in its efficiency.”

The partnership will also result in an enhanced experience for Hyundai’s customers, offering the company a real-time 3D and virtual platform for accessing services such as sales, marketing, vehicle customization and customer experience. Potential vehicle buyers will be able to test a range of features and functions digitally before choosing which ones to add to their physical vehicles.

Hyundai explains the benefits of its digital twin factory.

In the past, the costs of the computing, storage and bandwidth necessary to handle the volumes of data required for a digital twin of an entire factory have been prohibitive—but those costs have been reduced significantly. And with increased interest by big companies in the metaverse—seen by some as the next evolution of the Internet—Hyundai aims to position itself at the forefront of fusing metaverse technologies with real-world auto production.