Nearly Better Than the Real Thing: Porsche Taps Video Game Tech to Break New Ground in Automotive Design

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
em nearly em better than the real thing porsche taps video game tech to break new

Porsche has grown rather chummy with the video game community of late. In 2017, the automaker used North America’s largest gaming expo as a platform for the debut of the 911 GT2 RS. You can attribute that to a relatively recent marketing push that resulted in its vehicles appearing in interactive media after a long-standing absence. Porsche, for whatever reason, spent years being exceptionally choosy about which developers can license its vehicles for their games. This usually results in blockbuster titles using “RUF” as a placeholder or simply abandoning Porsche vehicles entirely.

The last five or six years have been different, however. Automakers want to broaden their marketing approach and get away from the big industry trade shows. For Porsche, that means video games, and the relationship is only getting stronger.

This week, Porsche Epic Games and the graphical processing wizards at NVIDIA gathered to showcase what they claim is a major breakthrough in computer design rendering. While we can’t say with any authority that this will forever change automotive design, what they’ve managed to accomplish certainly looks impressive.

The new software, unveiled at the SIGGRAPH (ACM’s “Special Interest Group on Computer GRAPHics”) conference in Vancouver, uses real-time ray-tracing software to more accurately represent the way light hits a three-dimensional object. For the purposes of the demonstration, the team used the Porsche 911 Speedster Concept — which looked as photorealistic as it gets.

According to NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang, the technology, dubbed “The Speed of Light” for the demo, combines a real-time cinematic experience utilizing NVIDIA’s Turing architecture, RTX technology, and new Unreal Engine rendering advancements. But it basically all amounts to “better graphics,” so why should the automotive sector care?

Well, instead of digitally shaping a vehicle and adding a virtual light source afterwards, the new software does it on the fly. It also interacts with the object in real time, meaning a designer can mold a computerized panel and rotate it endlessly (to see how light effects it from every angle) before deciding whether or not to scrap it. The end result is a simplified interface that allows the design team to have a more accurate idea of what a finished car would look like.

“Porsche’s collaboration with Epic and NVIDIA has exceeded all expectations from both a creative and technological perspective,” said Christian Braun, Manager of Virtual Design at Porsche. “The achieved results are proof that real-time technology is revolutionizing how we design and market our vehicles.”

The German automaker said the Porsche 911 Speedster Concept will be made available to consumers while NVIDIA and Epic Games intend to open the software up for the entire development community.

[Images: Epic Games]

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  • MBella MBella on Aug 16, 2018

    Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed was one of the better racing games of that era. I'm surprised they haven't done a modern version.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Aug 16, 2018

    There were some gems in the NFS series, but most of what EA puts out starts as a great concept and each iteration becomes less about the consumer and more about how much can EA rape the consumer. I was very happy to see Porsche get out of that exclusive license deal. Put it this way. EA is a mashup of the worst parts of Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and every 4 year old on the planet.

  • Poltergeist Make sure you order the optional Dungdai fire suppression system.
  • Prabirmehta I charge my EV at home 100% of the time. The EV is used for in-town driving and the gas guzzling SUV is used for out of town trips. This results in a huge cost saving and rare trips to the gas station.
  • Conundrum Three cylinder Ford Escapes, Chevy whatever it is that competes, and now the Rogue. Great, ain't it? Toyota'll be next with a de-tuned GR Corolla/Yaris powerplant. It's your life getting better and better, yes indeed. A piston costs money, you know.The Rogue and Altima used to have the zero graviy foam front seats. Comfy, but the new Rogue dumps that advance. Costs money. And that color-co-ordinated gray interior, my, ain't it luvverly? Ten years after they perfected it in the first Versa to appeal to the terminally depressed, it graduates to the Rogue.There's nothing decent to buy on the market for normal money. Not a damn thing interests me at all.
  • Inside Looking Out It looks good and is popular in SF Bay Area.
  • Inside Looking Out Ford F150 IMHO. It is a true sports car on our freeways.