Virtual reality revolutionises training

  • Virtual reality revolutionises training

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    2-minute read

  • How does the nuclear industry train its technicians and engineers when so many of the areas where they have to work are off-limits, either for reasons of security or operational safety?

     

    Increasingly in recent years, the answer has been by the use of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR), which allows the interiors of sensitive areas such as storage facilities or control rooms to be brought to life, either elsewhere at the site or at remote locations.

     

    They also dramatically reduce costs by recreating, in lifelike detail, training surroundings that would otherwise have to be physically built as replica facilities destined to be used only for training.

     

    The ability not only to recreate scenes but allow trainees or other participants to ‘walk around’ in them and undertake actions such as maintenance or decommissioning procedures is invaluable and, in many cases, impossible to reproduce in real life.

     

    Virtual simulation

     

    WNE 2018 provides a showcase for VR and AR training. Spain’s Tecnatom, for example, uses virtual simulation to plan interventions in radioactive environments; its VR application slows for the simulation of tasks in such environments and to calculate swiftly the radiation dose at any point in the space represented, and the exposure of workers while performing the simulated task.

     

    Another of WNE’s exhibitors, Vinci Energies, partnered in this case by Daqri, Augmensys and Actemium, provides AR technology on a ‘Smart Helmet’ that includes a built-in 360-degree cameras, sensors and real-time information about process flow and safety.

     

    AR can help technicians handle complex tasks by presenting information exactly where it should be and when personnel need it. Remote assistance from an expert is also available directly from the user’s headset.

     

    Help for designers

     

    Creating virtual surrounds that are an exact replica of a real environment before it’s even built can also help designers iron out potentially irritating flaws in the layout of plants. Recreating ‘the real thing’ digitally in advance of construction can show where, for example, inadequate space has been allowed to enable technicians to wield tools comfortably – a glitch that could cause expensive redesign if it was only discovered when the plant was being constructed.

     

    The importance of these technologies to the nuclear sector is reinforced by the agreement between two major players, EDF and CEA, the French public research organisation Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, to broaden their collaboration in developing technology for the industry. A particular area of interest is the development of VR and AR.

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