Most of us have experienced the joys of a mobile home – and the cramped beds and lukewarm baked bean dinners that go hand and hand with them, but a mobile virtual reality centre? What’s all that about?
Well, the UK’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has just launched MANTRA. No, not a path to spiritual enlightenment, but the MANufacturing Technology TRAnsporter, a specially modified 14 metre long lorry that travels the UK demonstrating the latest manufacturing, machinery and simulation technologies.
The MANTRA lorry, which expands to more than doubles in width to create quite a sizeable VR centre, has been made possible with the help of VR specialist, Virtalis, and features the company’s StereoWorks ActiveWall system. This means stereoscopic 3D viewing with full depth perception and movement tracking for all.
“Transferring industry ready manufacturing solutions to companies as quickly as possible is a vital component to maximising the UK’s manufacturing competitiveness,” says research director of the AMRC, Professor Keith Ridgway. “Using MANTRA and the stereoscopic 3D capabilities of the Virtalis StereoWorks ActiveWall system, we can demonstrate to businesses how VR technology can help achieve a smooth integration of new technologies into production environments.
MANTRA has been designed primarily as a technology demonstration and transfer tool for businesses, but it will also be used to inspire young men and women to become the next generation of engineers, something that is badly needed in the UK. On board the lorry, AMRC engineers will give students the experience of assembling, design reviewing and rehearsing the maintenance of a multi-million pound Rolls-Royce jet engine. That will certainly make a change from beans on toast.