Lockheed Martin is home to the Collaborative Human Immersive Lab, where the company’s engineers and designers are able to conduct design and research work while saving time and money
➨ The Collaborative Human Immersive Lab was set up in 2010 to bring virtual reality technology into Lockheed Martin’s design process
➨ It consists of a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment and motion capture studio
➨ The use of immersive technology such as virtual reality in the lab reduces costs in the prototyping process 10:1
The Collaborative Human Immersive Lab (CHIL) at Lockheed Martin is able to significantly reduce the costs traditionally associated with the prototyping process behind technological achievements including NASA’s Orion spacecraft and hypersonic weapons, according to its manager.
Set up in 2010 to bring virtual reality technology into the aerospace and defence company’s design process, CHIL consists of a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment and motion capture studio, where designers and engineers can validate their work before they take it to the production floor.
Darin Bolthouse, CHIL manager at Lockheed Martin Space, explains: “Though the industry has been changing over the past few years, the traditional prototyping process involved design work happening first and then that design being handed off to the manufacturing/assembly team to develop the product.”
“The challenge with that approach is that sometimes there was a disconnect between design and the physical creation that could result in rework, adding time to the schedule. By using immersive technology like virtual reality used in CHIL, we are able to reduce the cost 10:1.”
Bolthouse says the issue was one of scale: “The data on the computer screen is in 3D but people are still interpreting what that data looks like in full scale, and those interpretations can be incorrect which can lead to design errors.”
“In virtual reality, you can do things like practice how to assemble and install components and validate tooling and work platform designs. CHIL enables our team to do all of this in a full-scale environment as if they were looking at the real thing, allowing users to identify and eliminate mechanical interferences and ergonomic issues long before actual production on the shop floor.”
There is “no doubt” that fixing these issues in virtual reality early on in the prototyping process saves both time and money, Bolthouse says.
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Image: Lockheed Martin’s Collaborative Human Immersive Lab