Wednesday, February 1, 2017

3D Scanning - The Next Generation Scania

Time flies so fast! Late last year, we sent a small technical team to the Scania Demo Centre in Södertälje, Sweden, to acquire detailed reference material for Scania's new S and R trucks. The team consisted of two of our colleagues from SCS and a contractor operating a 3D scanner, as we were evaluating whether to buy this expensive piece of technology. We planned to make a short video documentary of this trip and to share it with you, but as we don't have a dedicated person for videos at the company and video editing has to always be done on top of our normal work duties, we have taken quite a while to come up with the final cut. At last, here it is...

The objective of the trip was clear: to make sure that all the measurements required for modeling the new Scania S and R series trucks were accurately gathered. In addition to photogrammetry, which is needed for replicating surface materials - textures - for the vehicle models, for the first time we tried the service of a handheld 3D scanner. By using this technique, we expected much higher precision data as input for our work, allowing us to recreate yet more realistic trucks in our games.

We thought that some of you may find it interesting, so we are including a brief report of what our field team had to do during their five-day trip. The list of items to photograph and scan was quite ambitious, so we had to arrange for three days of focused work on site. Rigorous planning was required to pull it off. Fortunately, everything went smoothly, and the team certainly did not mind a short delay caused by very polite conversation with Scania's marketing team. As we were poring over the vehicles, it was inspiring that the corporate giant that is Scania actually took interest in our work and considered it newsworthy (as we mentioned in a previous blog post).

By prior arrangement with the manufacturer, we had the following vehicles at our disposal:

Day 1 - Sunday
6:00 PM - we are setting off! All equipment is prepared from Friday. We went to Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague to embark a flight to Arlanda Airport near Stockholm. Picked up a rental car and traveled to the Scandic hotel located across the street from Chassiporten - the very manufacturing plant which can be found in the Scandinavia map expansion for Euro Truck Simulator 2. Quick dinner at Burger King. Elk Whopper is not present on the menu! What a pity.

Day 2 - Monday
6:00 AM wake up, breakfast. Meet & greet with our precious contact Nils at Scania Headquarters. Quick drive to the Demo Centre to pick up Richard. At the Demo Centre, one of the big hangars was made our improvised home for the three days. The pre-arranged trucks were waiting there at our disposal. At the same time as we were photographing the exterior, we were able to work on the interiors, as we were kindly provided with access to Scania S V8 and Scania R brown/light cab interiors adapted for exhibition and presentation purposes (no chassis, but plug and play). Before the first scan we needed to take down the side skirts and cover the truck with numerous sticker markers that improve the precision for both 3D scanning and photogrammetry. Scanning and taking pictures for the rest of the day. We worked long into dark, until we were eventually escorted out of the complex and wished good night - they really insisted that they are closing the facility for the day ;).

Day 3 - Tuesday
6:00 AM waking up slowly. All around there is darkness. Again. Daylight at this elevation during this part of year is short - only between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Back in the hangar everything happens quickly and efficiently. One more Scania truck version arrives, sticking it with labels, undress and re-dress side skirts. Scanning and photographing takes the rest of the day, we just switched trucks in the afternoon. Data backup of daily work and good night.

Day 4 - Wednesday
Work progress basically copied Day 3 with a nice bonus in the afternoon. We get an invitation to test drive Scania S 730 on the closed polygon. What a nice surprise from our hosts! Our work is over. In the evening, there was only packing up and preparing for the trip back home.

Day 5 - Thursday
Early morning journey back to Stockholm went smoothly, air temperature was around zero and snow at a minimum. On the way, we only stopped at Ikea (where else!) and then bought a supply of dried reindeer meat at the airport.

We're very happy with the data that we brought from Sweden. We are hard at work now on the detailed digital 3D model of the next generation of Scania trucks, creating it on the basis of the 3D scans. Having millimeter-precision 3D scan is a great reference, it can shave off precious weeks of iterative guess-work compared to only relying on photos, but there are still several hundred man-hours more to invest into the job to build the virtual representation of a truck.

The cooperation with the fantastic people at Scania was excellent as always, they were very welcoming, helpful, and super professional. We can only hope that they had the same impression of ourselves. We want to thank everyone involved for their invaluable assistance!

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