Virtual Reality (VR) immersion and interaction features are widely used in engineering tasks in order to simulate cost and time-intensive activities. In aircraft design, efficient execution of man-in-the-loop simulation tasks has been used as means for assessment of the aircraft's lifecycle usage. However, when potential users of an aircraft-related virtual product get immersed into virtual environments, they often feel the full synthetic environment like an unrecognizable ambient, and so they reject the immersion into the simulation as a work practice. This effect is due to the lack of realism of the virtual environments. Moreover, devices for interacting with digital mock-ups do not adequately match human capabilities, at least in comparison with human's standard work practices.
VISION will use as a 'baseline' the worldwide academic knowledge and the functionality provided by current world class VR software. It will advance the state-of-the art both at technology and application level by improving the performance of aircraft-related virtual products and environments with respect to criteria such as the realism of rendered virtual environment, trade-off of image quality during user interaction, tolerance to task execution changes, immersed user's presence, pick/grasp quality, training, acquisition and maintenance overhead and input data configuration control.
The technological objective of VISION was to specify and develop key interface features in fundamental cornerstones of Virtual Reality technology, namely in (1) photorealistic immersive visualization and (2) interaction. In particular, it aims at removing the current drawbacks of the underlying technology and better accommodate the specific needs of the human-oriented life cycle procedures (design, validation and training), related to critical aircraft virtual products (e.g. virtual cabin etc.). The technological achievements of VISION set ou to enhance the realism of the digital human-in-the-loop VR simulations and optimise the human-virtual product integration, in the specific domain.
The application oriented objective of VISION is to drive specific technological advances in immersive VR improving the human-oriented functionality and usage of aircraft-related virtual products along the product life-cycle. The immersive interface technologies to be developed will enhance the engineering context of these virtual products by enabling their increased use for activities, such as design verification, ergonomics validation, specifications of equipment displays, operational and situational training. Thus, they will help address in a more flexible, reliable and cost efficient way the development phase as well as the safety performance of these products.
Briefly said, in essence the VISION project aims to develop advanced Virtual Reality based simulation functionality in support of the design and 'virtual prototyping' of critical aircraft-related products.
The work plan of the project included eight work packages. In WP1, the specification of the virtual product requirements provided the application space of the project solutions. For each of the basic VISION modules (visualisation, interaction), specific technology requirements were defined. In WP2, the human-centered requirements and their implications in human-machine interaction within the aircraft-related virtual products were analysed. The two major simulation modules were then developed. WP3 was in charge of the Visualisation Module. Development work will address advanced rendering features considering the perception of the human towards light illumination and the real-time constraints of the immersive environment. WP4 is in charge of the Interaction module. Development work will address advanced hardware/concepts for markerless body tracking, new methods for user interfacing along with interaction metaphors. The individual visualisation and interaction simulation modules were next integrated into a common multi-modal interface platform (WP5). In WP6, the integrated platform was demonstrated based on real-life industrial scenarios. Demonstration gave input to system evaluation further improvement. WP7 and WP8 were in charge of the exploitation/dissemination and the management of the project activities, respectively.
VISION developed advanced VR based simulation functionality in support of the design and ‘virtual prototyping’ of critical aircraft-related products. It delivered specific advances in fundamental cornerstones of the VR technology, such as the immersive visualisation and interaction, so as to improve the human-oriented functionality and usage of these virtual products along their life-cycle. The human factors perspective on the design of Virtual Reality interfaces is expected to facilitate the 'acceptance' of the new methodologies by new user groups, and their integration in the everyday business practices. The project will also deliver a common multi-modal interface platform, which will seamlessly integrate the novel simulation features. The platform will provide engineers with cost-efficient testing tools and methods and will further enable the collaborative use of these tools by remotely located users for co-operative design activities. VISION will finally deliver a set of application demonstrators involving aircraft-related virtual product use cases, which will be based on real-life industrial scenarios. The technological output of the project is expected to have a
Virtual Reality (VR) has demonstrated a significant potential for interactive applications on product and process development. However, its quality of current technologies was far from satisfying the real-life needs of the aerospace industrial practice. The VISION project has resulted in improvements, such as:
- visualisation and interaction features, e.g. real-time rendering, global illumination, etc;
- integration of features in common IT platforms, thus enabling the launch of multi-disciplinary activities around a virtual prototype that ensures human immersion;
- validation based on test cases, which will consider the simulation of different aspects of the aircraft lifecycle: e.g. virtual assembly operations, immersive tasks execution in cabin by crew or passengers, etc.
For this, the VISION project has developed advanced VR based simulation functionality in support of the design and 'virtual prototyping' of critical aircraft-related products. It thus enhances the credibility of aircraft-related VR simulations. This will lead to improvements in design verification, ergonomics validation, specifications of equipment displays, operational and situational training. In addition, the human-oriented functionality and usage of these virtual products along their life-cycle will be improved.
The project will have significant impact on the working practices related to the creation of virtual aircraft products.
The project has delivered detailed visualisation/interaction technology specifications for virtual aircraft applications, human factors guidelines for the technology development and the implementation of the integration platform, as well as a human-centred validation framework.
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