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HM The Queen inaugurates the Nuclear AMRC using virtual tools

23 November 2010

Instead of physically lifting the first sod for the new Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC), as is traditional for an official launch, The Queen activated a virtual digger to do the work remotely. The Nuclear AMRC then appeared to be built in 3D - all thanks to Virtalis advanced visualisation techniques. Her Majesty enjoyed the immersive experience during a visit to the University of Sheffield AMRC with Boeing.

The new Nuclear AMRC is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the University of Manchester, with the backing of the government and leading companies involved in building the new generation of civil nuclear power stations. Based on the same collaborative model as the AMRC, the Nuclear AMRC will help UK companies become global leaders in the production of components and systems for the new generation of nuclear power stations. VR will be a key technology at the Nuclear AMRC and Virtalis has been chosen to be the technological partner for this sphere and is designing and supplying the new centre's VR facilities.

Her Majesty donned a set of virtual reality glasses within the AMRC's MANTRA (Manufacturing Transporter) for the VR experience. MANTRA is a customised lorry and trailer designed to give aspiring young engineers a hands-on experience with state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies, including a Virtalis ActiveMove VR system used for product design, simulation and training. Virtalis technical director, Andrew Connell, together with the Virtalis development team and AMRC's Dr. Rab Scott, created the VR environment that enabled Her Majesty to deploy the virtual digger and see the finished Nuclear AMRC. Andrew attended the official launch along with Virtalis MD, David Cockburn-Price.

Professor Keith Ridgway OBE, founder and research director of the AMRC and programme director of the Nuclear AMRC, said:"The Nuclear AMRC will take technological excellence into new markets, and help British companies supply the new generation of power stations worldwide."

The Nuclear AMRC building will sit alongside the established AMRC Factory of the Future, on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire. It will incorporate 8,000 sq m of factory-scale research facilities, laboratories, and office and meeting space. The landmark building is designed by Bond Bryan Architects, and scheduled for completion in Autumn 2011. The manufacturing research facilities in South Yorkshire will be complemented by expanded research laboratories at the University of Manchester.

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