13 April 2017
BRITISH defence giant BAE Systems has developed an innovative new system that allows operators to control the submarine they are travelling in using virtual reality headsets.
The system, which uses a design engine called Unity, collects information from sensors on the sub’s outer shell as well as ocean data and sends it to the captain.
The person wearing the HTC Vive headset is immersed in a simulation of what’s in front of them, but can ‘teleport’ themselves to different cabins or even outside the ship, using real-time information.
They are presented with several screens, showing them the submarine’s exterior, as well as different cabins and a host of mechanics and “sub health information”, effectively giving turning them into a virtual “ship brain”.
The system allows soldiers to “see” what’s in their midst using sensors and computer simulations.
This cutting edge technology, which was on show at Virtual Reality World Congress in Bristol on Wednesday, could also become a crucial tool for managing maintenance and repairs.
For example, if a pipe or piece of material needs to be replaced, the operator can use the headset to virtually take it where it needs to go, and check whether it will fit down the notoriously tricky spots in the submarine chamber.
This cuts costs and speeds up operations, BAE Systems researchers believe.
The military is already using its virtual reality pilot flight training system.
RAF and Navy pilots have started “flying” a F-35 Lightning II simulator as they prepare for flight trials on the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier next year.
The bespoke £2m simulator facility offers a 360-degree immersive experience for pilots to fly the jet to and from the UK carrier.
It will test pilots’ skills to the limits as they practice landing on the deck of the new aircraft carrier in a
range of difficult sea and weather conditions provided by the simulator.
But more funding is needed to develop the virtual reality operations for submarines, a BAE spokesperson told The Sun Online.
It's a long-term project, which could take thirty to forty years to complete, but the military need to be fast if it is to stay ahead of the curve and ensure it is well positioned as weapons and military operations become more advanced.
The British company, known for building warships and weapons, has a cutting edge research team.
It recently revealed it was designing a directed energy laser system which could be used by military commanders to spy on enemy activities from space.