& cplSiteName &

Lockheed Martin: VR Is on Our Radar

Aditya Kishore
6/15/2017
50%
50%

LONDON -- VR & AR World -- Keeping acquisition costs down is the primary goal for companies like Lockheed Martin RMS, according to Rich Rabbitz, principal member of engineering staff at the company. Utilizing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tools for training and maintenance is a key element in the company's strategy to control these costs.

Speaking at the VR & AR World event in London yesterday, Rabbitz explained that "acquisition cost" was defined a little differently in naval parlance. In this industry, the acquisition cost includes all costs from design all the way through construction and maintenance, to the point where the ship is decommissioned -- and it is critical for the company to keep it as low as possible.

Rabbitz's group, the surface Navy Innovation Center, or NIC, mostly produces radar systems for navy ships, and is tasked with integrating them into the ships' various other systems. This is a complex exercise and requires very precise installation. According to Rabbitz, the tolerance is within one-hundredth of an inch or they won’t work correctly. And once developed, correcting errors is very costly -- a problem it has in common with Boeing. (See Boeing: Productive VR Cuts Training Time by 75%.)

AR and VR are helping the company with its error rate, as they allow Lockheed Martin to identify mistakes and problems in the design stage itself, enabling them to be far more easily -- and cheaply -- remedied than at the construction stage.

The company already has a built-in CAD system for design, so it uses its models to develop a VR environment. The Lockheed platform is called Computerized Object Manipulation In Three-dimensional Space, or the rather more catchy COMITS system. It is a physics-based push button rendering system, allowing it to create digital mock-ups of the actual locations in the ship. This allows the company to take its engineers on a virtual walk through the areas where equipment is to be deployed, and review line-of-sight issues, accessibility to items that may be required for repair/maintenance, and touch screens where required. It can also perform lighting studies to see how much light is hitting a surface. Lockheed Martin can also do this for land-based facilities, such as manufacturing plants, offices, parking lots, etc., to ensure lighting is adequate.

Rabbitz said that the company started out using VR for its customers to give them a sense of what the radar systems would look like installed on their ships, and how the control rooms would be set up. But it turned out that its engineers loved the HTC Vive-based application, and also found that they were discovering far more problems in the design phase than before, when they were just using a 2D CAD system. As discussed, this helps lower acquisition costs for Lockheed Martin.

Rabbitz did say that latency was really critical for the application, and Lockheed Martin is using high frame rates (in the area of 189-213 frames per second) so there have been no instances of motion sickness. Despite that, he reports connection speeds and bandwidth have not been issues. "We're not known for the speed of our network," he said wryly, "but this is about the only thing that works fine."

Lockheed Martin is using H.264 to deliver the graphics as a video stream, and is probably keeping the level of non-essential visual detail and the resolution relatively low. Given the frame rate, if it bumps up the resolution, bandwidth will almost certainly be an issue. A recent report from the Broadband Forum found that for the best quality experience, VR requires 8 Gbit/s streams, a significant challenge for the broad adoption of VR.

The application has been optimized for Google Chrome, and streams in the browser. So Rabbitz is able to stream the VR experience from various Lockheed Martin offices, and even did it in his hotel room in London the day before his presentation.

The company is also using AR for maintenance when the vessel is at sea. Most naval engineers tasked with maintenance are fairly inexperienced, are about 18 to 20 years old, and are required to perform tasks they have only been trained on a couple of times. They are currently required to use a 100-page manual --which is typically located on another deck -- to guide them. This is a painstaking and time-consuming task.

Lockheed Martin has developed an application for use with Microsoft HoloLens, which can line up a hologram of the equipment next to the real item, and have video or audio guidance, step-by-step. It also includes "billboards", or small pop-up signs that identify components and provide instructions. This is a far more user-friendly experience, and allows maintenance procedures to be carried out faster.

While he did not share detailed results, Rabbitz did say the company was seeing a significantly reduced error rate in the construction stage where VR "walk-throughs" were being used -- because more mistakes were being found earlier, in the design stage. And this helps lower those all-important acquisition costs.

— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
242ak
50%
50%
242ak,
User Rank: Moderator
6/19/2017 | 6:44:48 AM
Re: Industrial
It's certainly moving faster. In an earlier VTAB* survey, VR was seen as potentially interesting, but video executives were very unsure of potential use-cases, business model and technology requirements. It's more of "we're keeping an eye on it" kind of approach for now. We'll see experimentation, probably more 360-degree coverage of major sporting events, but in the short-term, not so much actual deployment.

In the enterprise, however, the value is far more apparent. Training, maintenance and manufacturing processes all clearly benefit from "productive" AR/VR, and as with most productive applications, the ROI is measureable -- unlike entertainment, where value-to-dollar relationships are much murkier.

*VTAB: Video Transformation Advisory Board, a group of senior decision-makers at service providers, OTT providers and broadcaster/programming companies around the world, that LR has put together to guide our video coverage. 
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/17/2017 | 4:34:22 PM
Re: Industrial
The truth is that most people don't want to watch an entire NBA game, period. Even "fans" just want to see a few highlights, and maybe the last two minutes of the game (with the endless timeouts deleted). You are correct -- the real value of VR will be in practical applications rather than entertainment.
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/17/2017 | 1:30:24 PM
Industrial
Nice read. 

I've long thought VR/AR applications will start in the workplace, not consumer. 

People just don't want to watch an NBA game in VR (yet). 
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Nokia Bell Labs & Verizon Stretch Fixed 5G to the Home
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/13/2017
Juniper's New Contrail VP Hails From Google
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 11/15/2017
Eurobites: Telefónica Reckons Plastic Is Fantastic for FTTH
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 11/15/2017
Animals with Phones
Why Cats Don't Run Tech Support Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
The Mobile Broadband Road Ahead
By Kevin Taylor, for Huawei
All Partner Perspectives