Airbus is using the power of virtual reality and augmented reality to support its design and maintenance work as well as help potential customers visualise a helicopter configured to their individual requirements.
The aerospace giant has been showcasing both innovative technologies this week at the LAND FORCES defence exposition in Adelaide.
First, Airbus has a virtual reality simulation of an Airbus MRH-90 Taipan, where delegates at the conference can don a VR headset and put themselves in the cabin, operate a gun mount, open the rear ramp or deploy fast roping and extraction devices (FRED).
The realistic 3D environment also allows users to see what the aircraft may look like when designing and developing the configuration for aeromedical evacuation work, where stretchers, oxygen tanks and other associated equipment has to fit within the confines of the cabin.
“The simulation showcases the multi-role cabin configurations and Australian unique enhancements for troops, weapons and equipment for Aeromedical Evacuation, Special Forces, Troop transport and more,” Airbus head of country for Australia and New Zealand Tony Fraser said.
This virtual reality feature is already being rolled out across a number of different platforms for engineering purposes, as well as part of Airbus’s marketing efforts.
The Airbus stand also has an augmented reality display with the MRH-90 Taipan, which allows delegates to interact with a physical model of the aircraft and look at equipment such as fast roping, rear window and other gun mounts, MRH Cap upgrades and electro-optical sensor equipment.
This technology allows for example, the providers of a gun mount to see in augmented reality during the design phase how it might fit into the aircraft.
Similarly, those in the market for an aircraft such as the MRH-90 Taipan or ARH Tiger helicopters would be able to have a better idea about how everything fits.
There is also a maintenance concept where engineers and technicians would be able to bring up via the headset detailed documentation of specific procedures. The vision can also be related back to a supervisor for review and sign-off.
This augmented reality scheme is currently in a pilot and testing phase and has been in development for the past two years with Microsoft across Airbus’s defence and space, commercial aircraft and helicopters businesses.
It is also being introduced on the assembly line for Airbus’s A400M multi role tanker transport.
Australia has ordered 47 MRH-90 helicopters, which are operated by the Army and the Royal Australian Navy.