Hull's 3D training cave will give wind turbine engineers an edge
A VIRTUAL reality cave is being created at the University of Hull to give renewable energy companies a training boost.
The environment will give people in the green power industry the chance to experience hostile, dangerous and complex conditions.
The cave is being set up in the Hull Immersive Visualisation Environment (Hive) at the university's Department of Computer Science.
Hive has been awarded £240,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to develop the two-year project.
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Co-ordinator Emma-Jane Alexander said: "The aim is to offer a training service to industry and wind farm engineers to equip people with skills and support continuing professional development in the sector with greatly reduced risks and costs.
"The main aspect of the project is the 3D cave, which will place people in an enclosed, constrained environment in which they have screens in front, to their sides and below them."
The aim is to let users experience the difficulties of turbine maintenance without leaving dry land.
Ms Alexander said: "This virtual space allows us to simulate the journey to an offshore platform via specialist vessel, for instance, or prepare people for the feeling of standing on top of a wind turbine in the open sea and experience what can be a very hostile environment.
"We will also be able to simulate the different weather conditions and sea states that engineers and transport operators will face."
The project will seek to simulate winching to and from turbines by helicopter, using a head-mounted display.
It will also give young people an insight into renewables engineering.
Ms Alexander said: "This is exciting technology and will be an inspiring experience.
"In addition to training for industry we will be able to show schoolchildren what it's like to be wind turbine engineer.
"The offshore environment is not suitable for work experience students and this solution will allow users to practise and play without the dangers faced in the real world."
Professor Stephanie Haywood, director of university business hub Cass, said: "The project has real potential and over the course of two years we expect to further develop our range of industry partners.
"The work is genuinely innovative and is of real importance to the sector."
The cave is scheduled for installation in January.
It will lead to the creation of two new research programmer jobs and see the development of software, hardware and the purchase of new equipment.
Cass seeks to develop the University of Hull's role in the renewable energy and low- carbon economy sectors.
It brings together expertise from across the university's faculties and works with businesses to develop sustainable economic growth.
Visit www.hull.ac.uk/cass to find out more about the organisation and its research projects.