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BAE Systems goes 'virtual' to speed up design process

17 June 2016

BAE Systems uses Virtual Reality to speed up design, improve user experience and enable tank commanders to enhance decision making on the battlefield.

Employee tries on virtual reality headset (Credit: BAE Systems)

During Eurosatory, visitors to BAE Systems’ stand will be able to try this approach by exploring the Terrier Combat Engineer vehicle with a VR headset – the same equipment being used by the Company’s engineers to design and test new parts without the slow and expensive process of manufacturing test components.

John Puddy, Technology Lead for BAE Systems Land (UK), said: “Every time you want to upgrade a vehicle or even just design a simple new part, it’s very difficult to predict how it will work and whether it will affect the user experience. As soon as you need to make something and bolt it to the vehicle, it adds hours or even weeks to the process.

“Being able to ‘virtually’ bolt a new part to a vehicle means you can see exactly how it would fit. You can even sit in the vehicle like one of the crew and check it doesn’t affect your performance – our software will even superimpose your hands in real-time into the virtual world, so you ‘touch’ the vehicle.”

By saving time, engineers are able to make more design iterations to refine new parts or upgrades and deliver a better product. BAE Systems has also worked with soldiers to test changes in VR and uses their feedback to improve the design in real time.

The approach is not just limited to engineering. BAE Systems is planning to use the technology to provide better, more cost-effective training for soldiers on their vehicles – both operating and maintaining them. By training soldiers in VR, it reduces the chance of accidents as well as being more efficient. This is already being used in soldier training programs for Challenger 2, the British Army’s main battle tank.

John Puddy said: “We are also looking at how VR can help armoured soldiers on operation by providing a better feel for the battlefield. This should them react to threats more quickly, giving an advantage.”

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