Like many endeavors, making warships is a matter of specialization, with the various parts of the project scattered about the country or even across the world. For the Royal Navy and its principal shipbuilder BAE systems, this means engineers in Glasgow, Portsmouth, and Bristol having to work together despite being hundreds of miles apart. BAE’s answer is a network of "visualization suites" that allow teams to meet in a virtual environment where they can build and test designs as full-scale 3D prototypes before sending them to the shipyards.

According to BAE, this new VR system is based on a laser tracking system and an interactive wand that allows engineers and designers to move about the enhanced 3D virtual ship and interact with it in a realistic, real-time manner. This allows them to look at bulkheads, fittings, pipes, and other equipment from every angle in a way that previously would have required full-size mock-ups costing a small fortune to construct and modify.

The company says that this virtual approach is not only quicker and easier, but it allows for better collaboration between BAE, the Navy, and suppliers, which shortens the design phase of warship construction. The system is currently in a pilot stage that has been underway since February as part of a contract with SME Virtalis in Cheshire. SME has installed five of the VR suites, which are being used to design the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, which is intended to enter service in 2022.

"Visualization technology is transforming the way we design, build and deliver complex warships," says Mick Ord, Managing Director at BAE Systems Naval Ships business. "By creating a virtual prototype, we can mature and optimize a ship’s design and gain a real understanding of the vessel and the experience of those serving on board before manufacturing begins."

The video below introduces the BAE Systems VR design system.

Source: BAE Systems

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