PORTSMOUTH, VA (NNS) -- The Norfolk Naval Shipyard Technology and Innovation Community of Practice (NNSY T&I COP) has partnered with Nauticus in Norfolk to fully scan and develop a virtual simulation of the battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64).
The goal of the NNSY T&I COP is to bring innovation to the shipyard worker, tackling the technologies and practices of the future and molding them to fit the needs of the workforce. For the Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR) subcommittee members, they are taking a deep dive into the hardware and software to provide new training and safety initiatives for the shipyard.
“With VR/AR/MR, we can fully immerse the worker in the intended environment and train according to the job,” said VR/AR/MR subcommittee lead Jamal Cotton. “They can see what works, what doesn’t and take the steps needed to get the job done right the first time before they even set foot on the boat or in the shop.”
With a drive to explore this newer technology for the shipyard, discussions began in the summer of 2018 with the team at Nauticus to go onboard the USS Wisconsin and use the scanning technology to fully develop a simulation of its spaces.
“We wanted to use this opportunity as a foundation for how we use the technology and to better understand its capabilities,” said Code 261 Mechanical Engineer Robert Hughes. “The USS Wisconsin is a space that is open to the public and is already used in daily tours. It’s a space that has all the similar characteristics and components we work with daily at the shipyard and it was the perfect candidate to test out the software and hardware. And with these scans Nauticus would be able to develop something lasting that could be used by the community.”
Nauticus has set up an experience for those who are handicapped or unable to make it up and down the stairs of the ship, letting those folks follow along with their families on the tours with cameras in their Ship Experience Access Room (SEAR). It’s a virtual experience that provides those with disabilities or special needed to share the experience with their family.
With that as a basis, Nauticus and Cotton's team wanted to create a more immersive experience for the patron to truly feel they are there down in the ship’s corridors.
“We wanted to provide those who wanted to experience the ship with control of their tour and to truly feel immersed,” said Cotton. “In addition, we are able to capture scans of areas that aren’t able to be accessed by the public due to safety concerns to provide them a fuller experience of the Wisconsin.”
The team is currently working on taking scans throughout the ship and will be continuing throughout the course of 2019. A single scan can take from eight to 18 minutes at a time. For the tighter areas onboard the ship with lots of corners, it would take several scans to complete the imagery. The scans are then compiled and stitched together in the software to create the full image of the spaces. The team is currently working to contract the VR/AR aspects to develop the final product.
“It’s a lot of work that goes into the planning, scanning, and development of the simulation but all-in-all this has been a very rewarding and unique experience so far,” said Cotton.
Hughes added, “the team at Nauticus has a wealth of history and passion for the USS Wisconsin and you can see that passion in the way they share it with others. They want the ship to be immortalized in history and they have been a pleasure to work with throughout this endeavor.”
“It’s providing the community with something they can use for years and years to come and it provides us with the experience to develop something innovative that can be used for our shipyard,” said Cotton.
Code 228 Training Instructor John Frisch said, “We’re seeing just how limitless this technology is firsthand and what we could do with it. We can develop simulations for our workforce for welding, piping, working with valves, and more. They would be able to get the hands-on training they need in a perfectly controlled environment where they can feel safe to make mistakes and learn what to do in various situations. The possibilities are endless!”
“I can’t wait to see the change in mentality from being able to explore these new technologies at the shipyard and being able to use for on-the-job training and reinforcing safety for our workforce,” said Hughes. “We are paving the way for innovation at the shipyard.”
For more information regarding the REAL Ideas Program, contact the NNSY T&I Lab at 757-396-7180 or email the REAL Ideas program at NNSY_REALIdeas@navy.mil.
For more news from Norfolk Naval Shipyard, visit www.navy.mil/local/nnsy/.