While at Autodesk University 2011, I met Lance Grow and Tyler Henderson of the Emerging Digital Simulation team, who spent a lot of time detailing what Autodesk is doing with Digital Simulation and Finite Entity Analysis. The payoff to spending a lot of time in the Manufacturing Lounge was to see a lot of cool stuff, however nothing compares to what they showed me in a closed door session regarding the future of Simulation at Autodesk.
Before I describe the details, I’d like to point out the ironic humor that the Simulations Product team enjoys, where they show something that is quite honestly, for the first time in two years truly amazing, and then say "Oh, by the way, you can’t say anything about what you will see, to anyone".
Design & Motion was granted a first look at this awesome concept preview. The following is what I was allowed out with, and is only the tip of the iceberg.
Access to All Simulation Technologies
Autodesk is devoting a lot of attention to two key aspects right now: Cloud and Simulation. Autodesk will be pushing everything to the Cloud, making their complete Simulation arsenal available simultaneously to anyone, without the overhead costs of owning each application. We have already begun to see this with Moldflow Insight WS, being implemented on the cloud as a ‘pay as you go’ solution. This Cloud solution dramatically reduces costs to the user, and is the beginning of the model that Autodesk has in mind, where using the software is less about ‘owning’ it, and more about having access to it. "We want to put them on the Cloud, we want to make them accessible anywhere, anytime, on any device", Lance noted as he talked about offloading the processor intensive operations to the Cloud service, and at the same time having access to your data anywhere. "It’s going to be less about these (as he points to his laptop), and more about your pocket device"
Single Client Interface
Integrated simplification Tools – allows the user to simplify the model directly in the context of the Simulation interface. This would eliminate switching back and forth between Inventor, Simulation, and Fusion as we do now.
Real-Time Feedback – Their concept includes real-time feedback of the solver technologies, delivering continuous information about the design workflow that can help reduce failed analyses.
Streamlined reduced interface – A simplified interface that is designed to permit consistent workflows and more focus on the Simulation study.
One area that I agree with Autodesk on is the lack of innovation in the visualization of study results. "Another thing that we believe is critical to being successful is the ability to visualize the results" Lance added, "…and we’re trying to reinvent how you go about viewing the results and isolating the areas of interest"
Autodesk is developing new methods of interfacing with the study to eliminate many problems that we face. One example is where points of stress concentrations are often deep inside joints and difficult to evaluate. The new interface that I was able to see, which is completely concept in nature, allows the user to very quickly and quite intuitively focus the display of results no matter where they are in the model. No more slice planes and turning on and off component visibility.
Overall, I’d say that this was one of the biggest high-points of the conference. I am really excited about the prospects of this platform. Autodesk is not saying how this concept will emerge, or when for that matter. While I might be inclined to believe that we will see something from Labs during the next product release, Autodesk would have to work feverishly to move this platform into use by then. There are a lot of Simulation product names to attach WS to the end of. 🙂
Autodesk is being quite closed lipped about the nature of the Simulation package, as well as the feedback mechanisms. I asked if these were a complete rebuild, but all they would say is that Autodesk is re-thinking the future of the Simulation experience from the ground up. So far they are on the right track, because what I saw there was like nothing I’ve experienced before.