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Ford Becomes First Automaker to Use Gravity Sketch for Vehicle Design

January 31st, 2019


Borgman Ford would like to share an exciting bit of news with Ford fans in West Michigan: Ford has become the first automaker to use Gravity Sketch, a virtual reality design tool which will help them craft the next generation of Ford Vehicles.

As we reported previously, Ford is making big investments into streamlining their design process, and this latest development is currently being tried out at five different Ford facilities. What this tool has allowed Ford Designers to do is essentially skip the 2D drawing process altogether and begin “sculpting” the vehicle in mid-air. This is made possible by employing controllers and a VR headset, with the Gravity Sketch software rendering the designer’s movements like brushstrokes.

The benefits of this are that the design cycle is drastically easier, shortened and the designers can build the mockup around a human figure, literally putting the customer at the center of the vehicle design process. This article from the Official Ford Media Center tells more; here are some excerpts:


Ford Collaborates With Gravity Sketch To Explore New Tool For Designing Vehicles To Meet Customers’ Needs

From a desk at the Ford Design Studio, a designer enters a virtual room and begins a 3D sketch. He is designing a virtual car around himself and adjusting the attributes to best suit him – the driver. This work is part of Ford’s latest exploration of a new process that places the customer at the center of design and can help reduce the time it takes to create a vehicle.

Ford is the first automaker to work with Gravity Sketch – a 3D virtual reality tool that enables designers to create more human-centric vehicle design. Designers trade in their sketchpads for a headset and controllers to become immersed in virtual reality, imitating gestural interactions through motion tracking that replicates sketching with pen and paper.

Michael Smith, Ford design manager, says seeing all angles of a vehicle as it is being drawn truly unleashes creativity and fosters development of human-centric design from start to finish.

Traditional automotive design begins with a 2D sketch that’s then scanned to produce a high-quality illustration. Once these renderings are evaluated, a few are translated into data using computer-aided design software to create a 3D model. That model is transferred into a virtual reality environment for further evaluation and to determine the design’s feasibility. This can take weeks, meaning designers need to be extremely selective about which designs make it to the 3D modeling stage.

Gravity Sketch allows designers to speed the process from weeks to hours, skipping the 2D stage and working with a 3D model from the beginning. Designers can anchor a driver at the center, rotating their 3D design to view it from any angle to create a scalable vehicle around their driver. They can even step inside the vehicle sketch to quickly adjust design attributes to best suit occupants. Gravity Sketch enables Ford designers to place the customer at the very center of the vehicle as designers are sketching it.

“This application has the potential to help ensure we are delivering the very best vehicle designs for our customers,” said Smith. “It moves the entire process into the world of virtual reality, giving us greater options for reviewing more models in the 3D environment to create the best possible vehicles.”

You can read the full article by visiting

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