Lockheed Martin Corp.’s space division have revealed that they are using augmented reality (AR) headsets and software to help speed up the time it takes for engineers learn about and conduct manufacturing processes on spacecraft. The news comes from the division’s vice president and chief information officer, Yvonne Hodge speaking to The Wall Street Journal. By leveraging the power of AR technology to help provide users with key information and imagery that assists the wear with their work.
As Lockheed Martin continue to speed up their production line for manufacturing spacecraft, the implementation of AR technology is a move that is benefiting their workflow in many ways. It is over the past year that Lockheed Martin have been experimenting with the technology, following their expertise on the software side of things and with advances in AR headsets making the technology more usable. Devices such as the Microsoft HoloLens remove the need to carry binders of data around as all the information and instructions can be found and overlaid in virtual space.
This has helped with bringing technicians up to speed on new processes as the time required for them to learn a new drilling process has gone from eight hours to 45 minutes, thanks to the implementation of AR headsets. Shelley Peterson, AR systems engineer at Lockheed Martin mentions that it recently took about two weeks to conduct a manufacturing process which involved drilling and inserting panels into the Orion spacecraft. In the past, this process would of taken about six weeks which is a big improvement.
The AR technology is not without challenges though as the division note some technical challenges with ensuring effective rendering of 3D images. Due to the complex nature of the different parts and machinery that need to be shown sometimes the software solution display errors. Continued development of the technology and software however do see these issues being resolved in due course.
Elsewhere, the division are experimenting with the idea of using 3D representations of jets and weapons systems to help in speeding up the time it takes to design defense system-related projects. Lockheed Martin’s innovation center plan to offer customers the opportunity to visualise how certain products, such as weapon systems or the F-35 jet, might look in a particular environment. This would speed up the design and production process by allowing for faster feedback and collaboration from the customer.
As Lockheed Martin continue to adapt AR technology into numerous parts of their business and workflows, VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest so make sure to stay tuned for more.