While the photo above might suggest the use of a black light to check for stains, it’s actually a technique that uses a tool called a blue light scanner to create 3-D images. The General Motors Competitive Benchmarking team then takes completed sets of scans and reverse-engineers them in order to compare them to GM designs.
For over a decade, GM has relied on 3-D scanning to help gather competitive intelligence. The technology projects a red, white or blue light pattern onto the vehicle surface while an advanced camera or sensor captures its contours and records where the object is in space and its orientation.
Blue light scanners also can map vehicle interiors and locations of under-hood and under-body components. White light scanning is a similar photographic process, but it is older technology and used less frequently these days due to the advanced capability of blue light scanning. Lastly, red light scanning is best for capturing details of components and parts already removed from vehicles. By combining data from red and blue light scans, engineers can capture stand-alone parts and their original position and orientation within the vehicle.
GM also uses 3-D scanning for vehicle design and development. The manipulation of data collected from scans of clay models into digital modeling programs can be uploaded into a computer-controlled milling machine to create a full-scale model. Or, if it is just a portion of the vehicle, the data can be transferred to a 3-D fabricator for a rapid prototype part.
This is probably as close to “keep your enemies closer” as GM can get.