Callaway Unveils AI-Supported Golf Club Designs
Callaway, a household name for golf equipment, unveiled their new models produced with the support of artificial intelligence and machine learning programs.
Products under their Mavrik line introduced new design elements. This takes the AI-based Callaway initiative that started with its Flash line of golf pilots. The Callaway Epic Flash Driver, boasting of “Artificial Intelligence: Real Ball Speed”, was the only product to receive 20 out of 20 stars from the Golf Digest 2019 Hot List. It had design swing speeds of 95 to 100 miles per hour. It was made with machine learning, landing its iconic face design.
(Photo: Photo by Tim Boyle / Getty Images)
DES PLAINES, IL – JUNE 24: A Callaway golf bag is seen among many golf clubs at the Dream Golf Pro Shop on June 24, 2005 in Des Plaines, Illinois.
AI-driven club designs
To reduce drag and improve its aerodynamic characteristics, golf drivers are often designed with a rounded shape thicker at the edges and thinner towards the edges. In an article by Popular science, Ian Hocknell, senior vice president of research and development at Callaway, said: âThe face thickness model it first came out with was nothing like what we designed.
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Hocknell added that one of the thinnest areas of the resulting design was in the center, unlike the conventional design. It did, however, have a pattern of ripples and ridges. The design had thick areas adjacent to thin areas in the conductor. SVP R&D admitted, âThere were some things we really didn’t understand, but we could prove that it generated more ball speed.
Usually, club designers and manufacturers are assisted by computers to simulate thousands of strokes to examine stroke patterns and consistency of performance. In Callaway’s revolutionary designs, they simply provided limits and parameters to an AI program and let it solve problems and optimize the design without human interference.
Through these simulations, Callaway was able to tailor the design of its clubs to meet the needs of a specific group of golfers based on their skill level. Hocknell commented that the target was especially tricky for beginners.
An engineer Mavrik
âThe design challenges for low-capacity golfers are that you have a higher degree of noise,â Hocknell noted. âThe variation from one shot to another is much higher than with the pros of the circuit. The computer can help analyze this. It helps us grasp the challenges we face. “
The Callaway executive also noted that the process of developing a new golf club typically takes between twelve and sixteen months, producing only three or four prototypes for testing. These limited prototypes are loaded onto a swing robot to test its actual performance over multiple iterations. With designs based on artificial intelligence, it can bypass variations – especially for less experienced players – and guide them to better gaming skills.
After a revolutionary design and satisfactory prototype performance, the arrival of the new Mavrik clubs in the manufacturing plant also required significant investments on the part of the company. Callaway was looking for a new titanium alloy to meet the manufacturing requirements of such a design. Therefore, they also had to work on their forge to keep up with the design constraints of the new model.
âThere were only a few machines in the world that could do this with the fine grade of titanium we were using. We had to modify the crystal structure of titanium so that it was durable under the loads it was going to undergo. “said Hocknell.
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