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20/4/2018

Virtual Reality Planetary Survival Training Concept to be presented at EarthX 2018

Virtual Reality Planetary Survival Training Concept to be presented at EarthX 2018

The Virtual Reality Planetary Survival Training Concept, created by the Human Interface Technologies Team, University of Birmingham, UK, is to be presented at EarthX this year. It will illustrate the technology-based simulation possibilities (Virtual and Augmented Reality – VR, AR) that will enhance Blue Abyss’s training capabilities and offerings in the future. 

To illustrate the technology-based simulation possibilities (Virtual and Augmented Reality – VR, AR) that will enhance Blue Abyss’s training capabilities and offerings in the future, the Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team from the University of Birmingham in the UK has developed an early Planetary Survival VR demonstration, using commercial off-the-shelf technologies, 3D assets and special effects developed in-house and sourced online. 

At the start of the Planetary Survival demonstration, end users find themselves on a Mars-like surface, surrounded by imposing terrain and various planetary installations, vehicles and surface experimental modules. Their task commences with an approach towards a planetary drone, which automatically launches and relays “live” aerial images to their EVA helmet heads-up display (HUD). With the threat of an incoming dust storm, depicted visually and via a countdown-to-impact timer integrated as part of the HUD, the user's challenge is to identify and locate a small survival module. The demonstration ends once the survival airlock is entered, or the dust storm hits. 

Experience the demo 

End users can experience the demonstration using conventional PC/laptop displays, more advanced technologies, including End Point Inc.’s Liquid Galaxy panoramic multi-display (as featured at the Dallas EarthX event), or by wearing one of a number of current generation VR head-mounted displays, such as HTC’s Vive Pro, or Samsung’s Odyssey. In the VR headset version of the demo, the simulated aerial images relayed to the user from the airborne drone are displayed via a wearable computer interface which appears on the “astronaut’s” arm, linked to the movement of hand controllers delivered with the headset products. 

The Planetary Survival scenario is part of a growing series of Mixed Reality (MxR) vignettes developed by the HIT Team and is designed to show the importance, in technology-based training, of merging real, physical fidelity with computer-generated fidelity. The core of this research is, at the time of writing, being sponsored by the UK's Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and relates to the training of future defence paramedics in Medical Emergency Response Teams (MERTs). The survival habitat demonstration is a relatively new development to investigate how the Team's Mixed Reality MERT Test Bed, which is based on a unique inflatable and reconfigurable training enclosure, can be adapted to investigate habitability and survival issues associated with planetary exploration. The Team anticipates developing additional space training-related VR and MxR packages in collaboration with Blue Abyss subject matter experts over the coming years. 

Article and images kindly provided by Professor Robert Stone, Director of the Human Interface Technologies Team, University of Birmingham.

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