On a panel at Nvidia’s GTC conference this spring, Rev Lebaredian, VP of simulation technology and Omniverse engineering at Nvidia, expressed surprise that the industrial and manufacturing sectors have been the first to embrace metaverse technology.
“Our thinking was that the first industry to adopt it—because it’s a general platform—would likely be media and entertainment, and then next would maybe be AEC [architecture, engineering and construction], and the last would be industrial manufacturing, that they would be slower in doing this kind of adoption,” he said. “What we’ve been surprised to see is it’s almost inverted. The companies that are most excited and demanding to have these real-time, immersive digital twins are companies like BMW, who’s one of our most important partners for Omniverse.”
Lebaredian attributed the fast adoption to a threshold in technology readiness, combined with the manufacturing industry’s early realization that complex systems must first be simulated.
“This past year, I was surprised to see how much demand there actually is and how much interest,” he said. “For many of them, it feels like it’s existential. If they don’t figure out how to create better digital twins and simulate first, we’re just not going to be able to create the things we need.”
Michele Melchiorre, senior VP for production system, technical planning, tool shop and plant construction at BMW Group, said that before adopting digital twins and metaverse technologies, production systems in factories weren’t connected—3D models of buildings, layouts and products were separate.
“With a virtual factory and the metaverse and digital twins, we bring all these things together, and we can use them together at any location where the people are,” he said. “That’s really where we see it growing.”
BMW has been working with Nvidia since 2021 and began global rollout of Nvidia’s Omniverse platform for industrial metaverse in Spring 2023. The automotive OEM is going digital-first–optimizing layouts, robotics and logistics systems before implementing them in the real world—in some cases, years in advance. The brand-new BMW factory in Debrecen, Hungary, is the first to get a full digital twin, with production scheduled to start at the site in the next two years.