McLaren Launches Partnership With Epic Games To Integrate Unreal Engine For Auto Design Use
Multi-awarded game engine to be used to design McLaren’s carsby Kirby Garlitos, on
Cross-industry partnerships are commonplace in the auto industry, especially these days with technology playing such a key role in shaping the business towards the future. McLaren considers itself as one of the automakers leading this charge and that became more apparent at the 2016 Game Developers Conference when it announced a partnership with Epic Games. McLaren will use Unreal Engine 4 software to help design its models.
For those who don’t know, Unreal Engine 4 is the latest version of the Unreal Engine game development tool. The tool is the most successful video game engine ever, as cited by no less than the Guinness Book of World Records. While it’s core function remains in the industry of video games, the technology has since branched out and has been licensed in other industries, including education, training and construction simulations, virtual reality, CG animation, and with the announcement of this partnership with McLaren, the auto industry.
McLaren design manager Mark Roberts spoke about the partnership at the conference, calling it a huge step for McLaren in creating “a range of new tools, new virtual tools in the visualization field.” Roberts also said that as part of the new collaboration, McLaren has already sent capture data from all of its cars to Epic, in addition to actual paint samples, material samples of the paint and fabric, and audio recordings of things like engine noise.
That’s part and parcel tied into the first product to come out of this new collaboration, which has been dubbed the “Customer Configurator.” Using this consumer facing tool, would-be buyers of McLaren cars can fully customize their cars similar to how sneakerheads do it through Nike’s ID editor. If you’ve seen how that works, it basically allows a customer to mix and match paint colors to see which one he likes. In the case of McLaren, that level of customization can extend all the way to the interior with the seat and surface materials, as well as trim and color options.
The objective of the configurator is to give prospective buyers the chance to essentially imprint their personalities into the car that they’d like to buy. It’s a new level of customization that Roberts said will “revolutionize” the way the British automaker designs its cars.
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Why it matters
On the surface, this partnership doesn’t seem all that different from a personalization standpoint. The objective remains the same even though the execution and the possibilities of what can be created are very different. In a lot of ways, this is the next step in the evolution of auto customization and it’s mighty bold of McLaren to tap the resources of arguably one of the best gaming tools in history. Roberts himself said that UE4 will be able to “power and improve” the automaker’s design process, which could only mean good things for all of us considering how highly regarded McLaren’s design team is already.
Hopefully, we get to see something more tangible come out of this partnership soon. It’s nice to talk about the possibilities and what-not, but it would be a lot better if we get to see what McLaren’s design team can do now that it has access to the UE4 tool. I personally don’t know where this is going to lead, but I’m excited about the possibilities.
On that note, can you imagine being a customer and having free reign to design your McLaren the way you want to? It’s an interesting place to be in for McLaren and if those guys are as smart as we all think they are, they can leverage the Unreal Engine’s vast capabilities to introduce a new level of customer-oriented service that can change the auto personalization business for the better.
Read our full review on the McLaren 570S here.