It’s not a widely adopted industry term, but we figured a ‘virtual multipurpose environment’ was a better way to describe what our visualisation and simulation software can actually create.
Some people might call it a ‘sandbox’, but our clients aren’t building new worlds in Minecraft. They’re using serious technology to solve some of the world’s most complex challenges – like cleaning up after a nuclear disaster.
What It Is
A virtual multipurpose environment is a set of simulated components which can be manipulated by a user to play out different real-world situations. Scenarios are typically simulated around the question: what will happen if we do this?
For example, a user might import the simulation of a robot into a virtual environment to explore the impact of certain actions. This enables them to simulate things like attaching a tool to a robotic arm, or going into a nuclear reactor to perform a task.
A multipurpose environment enables users to test out different scenarios. For that reason, content creators do not need to be experts in operational procedures. Their role is to accurately set up the simulation: whatever the robot can do in real life, it can do in the simulation. The power of this approach lies in the unmatched flexibility of testing multiple options in a realistic environment.
Why We Love It
We’ve been working in this field for over 20 years. If we didn’t love it, we wouldn’t still be in it. It’s rewarding to support our clients through long-lasting cooperation. That way, we really get to know them and their specific challenges. Plus, we support every stage of their demanding projects, with specific solutions, added to the same simulator environment. So here are 4 reasons why we love a virtual multipurpose environment:
1 Improved Training
The first reason we love it is that the more accurate a simulation, the more reliable and flexible it is for training purposes. Used properly, the virtual multipurpose environment is a safe space to test out the limits and capabilities of robotic machinery. In this way, a multipurpose environment helps to flatten the learning curve for operators who are new to the machinery.
2 Safer Testing
It can also be used to test out potential scenarios and explore the consequences of certain actions before they take place in the real world. It’s a testing ground to see how different decisions will play out in different scenarios. The truth is, engineers can’t necessarily bring all the available tools into a real-world machine and test it in the actual environment – especially for operators performing remote handling in complex and constrained environments. In the virtual multipurpose environment, they can.
3 Earlier Intervention
Trialling a piece of new robotic machinery in a virtual multipurpose environment before or during its construction can help engineers mitigate expensive modifications further down the line. It allows them to surface unforeseen issues, which might then lead to design modifications. For instance, a robotic arm may be too long to take a narrow turn, or its expected deflection, as predicted by accurate physics simulation, may cause reachability issues. In those cases, the machinery can be adapted at an earlier phase, rather than after it’s been built. This also brings down the cost of modification.
4 Relevant Context
It’s possible to simulate a new piece of robotic equipment in isolation. This is great for seeing how it works and getting operators to practice using it. However, it’s less helpful when you need to see how a robot interacts with a specific and restrictive environment. The people engineering and building the robot may not be the same people who built the space in which it will operate. By utilising a virtual multipurpose environment, engineers can check for important details like clearance, in particular when there is minimal room for error. Especially when multiple teams are involved in engineering, a joint virtual environment is the place where it all comes together and components can be tested in context.
Make Virtual Multipurpose Environments A Reality
Tree C offers a variety of solutions for the visualisation of work sites. Even if there are no reliable 3D environment models available, we can faithfully reconstruct real-world environments using a combination of sensor data and other available inputs.
In addition, our dedicated VR4Robots software is a powerful tool for preparing and validating remote operations. Our physics-based interactive visualisation technology delivers a smart visual on the complete remote handling process, both in preparation and during actual operation.
Instead of developing occasional single-purpose simulation studies or training simulators, our multipurpose approach provides our clients with better value in a cost-effective way. Their VR system will gain functionality over time and will naturally evolve with their project to support their challenges at hand.