One of the largest virtual reality (VR) laboratories of its kind, Lockheed Martin’s CHIL enables collaboration between product design and manufacturing teams before physically designing and producing hardware or building facilities. The Denver facility delivers significant cost and time savings by using VR to create a unique collaborative environment for exploring and solving problems quickly.

Human spaceflight, imaging satellites, even solar array facilities. We analyze designs and manufacturing processes in virtual worlds prior to physical manufacturing. This allows engineers and technicians to validate, test and understand products and processes early in program development, when the cost, risk and time associated with making modifications are low.

Visualizing Digital Threads

The CHIL was an evolution of virtual reality at Lockheed Martin dating back over a decade to its initial use on fighter programs.  VR is now woven into the Digital Tapestry at Lockheed Martin, enabling a holistic approach to engineering at all stages of the product development lifecycle.  At its core, the Digital Tapestry is about improving human interaction and decision-making. Paper drawings are a thing of the past, and the future is based on data-rich virtual models that involve engineers and technicians in immersive, interactive experiences. VR can take complex datasets and present them at a level of abstraction that allows a wider audience to participate in engineering decisions, including the technicians who build products on the shop floor.

Today, the rapid expansion of consumer VR headsets bring VR capabilities to the engineer’s desktop. The CHIL scales these tools and adds networked computing so technicians can practice how to assemble and install components, the shop floor can validate tooling and work platform designs, and engineers can visualize performance characteristics like thermal, stress and aerodynamics, just like they are looking at the real thing.

The ability to visualize engineering designs in virtual reality offers tremendous savings in time and money compared to using physical prototypes.  The pace of change around VR is rapidly accelerating, and Lockheed Martin sees many applications for VR beyond its current use.  VR enables Lockheed Martin to stretch the limits of what is possible, and at the moment, the possibilities for VR seem limitless.