When you're building a car, how do you test your design before you actually build it? Well, you could spend $80 million on a gymnasium-size simulator, or, if you're Ford, you could just use state-of-the-art special-effects software to create a 3D virtual reality for simulated test drives. Ford's been using VR tech in its Virtual Evaluation Lab in Michigan since 2005, and now they're collaborating with NASA's chief contractor to take it to the next level.
The simulation tech is essentially the same software used to create the 3D world of Avatar. Space-shuttle supplier United Space Alliance (USA) uses it to run simulations to improve mission safety (at least they will until the shuttle is retired later this year). They've already given Ford tips on improving response time, and the carmaker returned the favor, schooling USA on how to better simulate actual people. Maybe James Cameron should be taking notes.