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GM Launches Plan to 3D Scan the Vehicles in Its Heritage Collection

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General Motors is working with the Historic Vehicle Association to develop a blue-light 3D scanning technology, designed to help preserve its historic vehicles

GM is working to ensure that it has a backup plan in case anything happens to its historic vehicles
Photo: Tino Rossini

Historic vehicles offer automotive enthusiasts a glimpse into how cars used to be designed and built. Unfortunately, these models can be very vulnerable. All it takes is one mishap or catastrophe for these models to be lost to time forever.

General Motors wants to keep its historic models and concepts safe from such catastrophes. That’s why the automaker has teamed up with the Historic Vehicle Association to develop a blue-light 3D scanning program to use for its Heritage Collection.

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The 3D scanning technology draws inspiration from the Historic Vehicle Association’s own 3D scanning initiatives. During the past few years, the Historic Vehicle Association has worked to make sure historic vehicles are granted the same status as other historic objects, such as buildings. The first GM vehicle to undergo the 3D scanning process was the 1953 Firebird I gas turbine concept. The entire process of scanning the Firebird took four months, though GM devoted a good portion of that time to perfecting the technology.

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Photo: Tino Rossini

GM was in a rush to 3Dscan the 1953 Firebird first, as it is scheduled to be lent to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum for a 2019 car design exhibit. The automaker wanted a plan in place in case an incident like the Corvette Museum sinkhole occurs. One such incident actually took place in the basement of the GM Design Center. Fortunately, GM moved its photographic collection from the basement a few months prior, so the damage was minimal. The GM Heritage Center currently houses 600 vehicles, though only 150 are on display at any given time. Now that the technology has been proven to work, scanning the next round of historic vehicles shouldn’t take nearly as long.

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“We are focused on capturing the history of design at General Motors,” says Susan Skarsgard, the GM designer in charge of the pilot program. “But the reality is, we’re capturing the history of design in America. And so partnering with organizations like the HVA is part of furthering that mission.”

The 3D scanning process allows GM to replicate the materials and parts that make up the scanned vehicle. While the original might unfortunately be too damaged to recover, a 3D scanned replica just might be the next best thing.

News Source: Automobile