SolidWorks World 2010 – Monday General Session
The first General Session of SolidWorks World 2010 began in Anaheim, CA, with SolidWorks CEO Jeff Ray taking the stage. Jeff mentioned that in the current state of the economy, most companies were scaling back events, but that there were over 5000 people registered for this year’s conference.
MEET THE PARENTS
Jeff mentioned the fact that over the last couple of years, signs of SolidWorks’ parent company, Dassault Systémes (DSS), had become more apparent. He wanted to talk more about the relationship of SolidWorks with DSS. He introduced Bernard Charlés, CEO Dassault Systémes, who took the stage.
Charlés said that there were over 2 million users of DSS software, with 5 of their offerings holding the #1 position in their sector worldwide.
The main theme of his talk was “use a 3D virtual universe to design anything in the world” and “use 3D everywhere”. DSS’ vision is to connect the research, engineering, consumer, and education communities.
Here is a video of Matt talking to Bernard Charlés about SolidWorks, cloud computing, and the future of 3D:
DO CAD USERS DREAM OF ELECTRIC CARS?
Jeff took the stage again and talked about “green design”. He asked the question, “What do you think about when you think of a green car?”
He then said that he wanted to see what some car design enthusiasts could come up with, so he brought up Jeremy Luchini, who heads up the Certification team at SolidWorks (and is a vehicle enthusiast), and Dr. Mike North, from the Discovery show, Prototype This. Jeremy was in charge of the chassis and design and Dr. North was in charge of the powertrain. The product of this experiment is the SolidWorks 100% Electric ‘33 Hot Rod:
The first time they tested it, they got 0-60 in 3.8 seconds! And that was on one battery pack (the car has three). Dr. North said that they could get it down to around 3.0 seconds if they had hooked up the other battery packs. The chassis is from Factory Five Racing; the electric engine was robbed from a bus, and delivers 660 ft-lb of torque; and the batteries are from A123 Systems and deliver 440 volts at 2000 amps.
And SolidWorks is taking this one step farther… They are beginning a web series based on this experiment. A website has already went live, Let’s Go Design, where you can submit design ideas for consideration.
Jeff then had a couple of follow-ups from two of the featured customers from last year’s General Session.
Terrafugia, with their street-legal flying car, has completed tests and had extensive media coverage. Jeff mentioned that they had used Catia to design the complex wing shapes. And MicroWind Technologies used SolidWorks Simulation to deal with vibration issues in their wind turbines.
Jeff then introduced some of folks attending from Walt Disney’s Imagineering group. They were one of SolidWorks’ first customers, having used the software since 1995.
And as has been previously reported, SolidWorks shipped it’s one-millionth license last year to Ogio.
SOLIDWORKS IN THE CLOUD
As I mentioned in my previous article, SolidWorks showed off some new technology featuring cloud-based architecture. They showed software running on a Mac, netbook, and iPhone; and a multi-touch interface running on a tablet. What really blew me away was when they loaded up this huge factory assembly and instantly started doing a fly-through! There was very slight stutter every once in a while, but it was otherwise very smooth.
According to Jeff Ray, it was all performed live, with no previously-recorded movies. This technology has been working, he said, for the past 2 years or so, and they felt that it was now ready to be previewed. They did not announce a release date, but Jeff said that the first aspects of cloud computing will ship later this year. They will be showing SolidWorks talking to Enovia V6 in Wednesday’s General Session.
One of the big issues that they are trying to tackle is that CAD doesn’t really model real life. Springs, o-rings, and the like are just some of the items we need in our models, but they don’t behave in the CAD model as they do in reality. One of the demos they showed had them adding a spring to a jaws-of-life assembly, and it actually deformed and moved as it would in a real assembly!
KEYNOTE SPEAKER, JAMES MCLURKIN
The speaker for Monday’s General Session was James McLurkin. Mr. McLurkin is a roboticist, inventor, researcher, and teacher at Rice University in the Computer Science Department. The title of his presentation was “Dances With Robots: The Story of One Engineer, 112 Little Robots and the Toys, Insects, and Star Wars Movies that made it all Possible”.
He spoke about his research in swarm theory, and how those behaviors of swarms of insects can be applied to robots. He did a demo with a swarm of 15 or so little mini robots on stage that was pretty entertaining.
I think being able to take a behavioral model from and insect species and apply it to programming for robots is amazing and brilliant; until they try to take over the world, that is! (Mr. McLurkin said that there wasn’t a robot that could pull open a door at the moment, so we should be safe for now…)
I think the prospect of having the option to run your CAD software from the cloud is intriguing. That’s right, I said option. Jeff Ray said that there would still be a standalone solution for years to come, and that they were not going to force customers into making the decision on how they use their CAD software. Dassault is still supporting Catia v4, and Jeff said that SolidWorks will follow that model.
DISCLOSURE: DS SolidWorks Corp paid for my conference fee, lodging, and some meals.