Steel Market Development Institute using virtual reality at NAIAS to illustrate future mobility and steel connection

*This post is sponsored by SMDI. All opinions expressed in this piece are my own.

We just returned from the CES, the Consumer Electronics Association’s gargantuan trade show that spans just a shade under a dozen venues and attracts about 180,000 people from all over the world. It was clear that autonomous driving was going to be a big focus, with notable displays from OEMs and companies like HERE and Magna. Aptiv partnered with Lyft to give CES attendees a taste of Level 4 autonomous driving. We took a ride and the interface was impressive.

We expected the autonomous driving hype to be strong, and it was. However, right on the heels of that message and jockeying for position were the topics of connectivity and mobility. Without connectivity, none of this new automotive technology will work. And mobility is going to make a difference for drivers of all ages and status; automotive manufacturers are taking note of mobility requirements and they’re well down the path to jump ahead of the curve.

Photo: SMDI

Photo: SMDI

Next week at the North American International Auto Show, the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) will offer a three-minute virtual journey through a futuristic city landscape. To start the journey, the (virtual) steel body of an autonomous vehicle builds around the rider before taking off on the road. NAIAS Media & Industry Preview attendees will be able to explore the key components of the vehicle and learn how advanced high-strength steels in automotive design can address the potential challenges of autonomous transportation.

In 1970 - the year I was born! - only a few grades of steel were available to automakers. Now there are more than 200 grades of steel, ensuring manufacturers have the right grade for the right application. We know that safety is important to consumers, and steel plays a major role. But what I find most interesting about steel that I didn’t know until recently is that steel is recycled more than all other materials combined. Steel is magnetic, making it easily and affordably recycled. And one steel product can be recycled into another without loss of quality, contributing to its high recycling rate.

Photo: SMDI

Photo: SMDI

SMDI's exhibit will also feature a 2019 Acura RDX body-in-white. What’s a body-in-white, you might ask? Body in white (BIW) refers to the stage in automobile manufacturing in which a car body's components have been joined together, using one or a combination of different techniques. Essentially, the BIW is the chassis before painting and before the engine, chassis sub-assemblies, or trim (glass, door locks/handles, seats, upholstery, electronics, etc.) have been assembled within the frame structure.

SMDI’s RDX BIW will show visitors the advanced high-strength steel structure of a current vehicle and compare it with the autonomous vehicle in the virtual reality experience. Experts from SMDI and its member companies will be on hand to answer questions at the SMDI booth on the show floor at NAIAS.

Are you going to NAIAS? We can’t wait!

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Kristin Shaw