Visit our stand at the Driving Simulation Conference Europe 2019 in Strasbourg this September!

Posted on:

 

We are delighted to announce that we have registered to exhibit at the 18th Driving Simulation & Virtual Reality Conference from the 4th to the 6th of September 2019 in Strasbourg, France.

As experts in the development of virtual 3D environments for driving simulators, we’re excited to have the opportunity to speak with organisations using driving simulators to conduct research, training, vehicle testing, road design reviews and more. We will be showing examples of the highly realistic and accurate virtual 3D environments developed for use within our clients’ driving simulators. The video below shows an environment that we developed being used within the TRL driving simulator.

 

 

We take the time to understand your specific Driving Simulator visual requirements and, from a variety of data sources, we build virtual environments to meet your needs. Our expertise working with a variety of driving simulation and visual platforms over many years also enables us to design the virtual environment for optimal performance at runtime.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help with your driving simulator project, then get yourself signed up to attend the DSC 2019 and we’ll look forward to seeing you there. If you can’t wait until then, please get in touch at louis.drakes@agility3.co.uk or call on +44(0)1438 488066. We look forward to hearing from you.

Agility3 achieve Cyber Essentials Certification

Posted on:

We at Agility3 are very pleased to announce that we have recently achieved a Cyber Essentials Certification.

This certification is earnt by companies that have taken the necessary steps to ensure that they have the defences required to project against the majority of cyber-attacks.

The management, handling and protection of clients’ data (as well as our own) is something we take very seriously at Agility3 and something we have a great deal of experience in. Achieving this certification will help us continue to do this effectively for the years to come.

For more information please get in touch at info@agility3.co.uk or on +44(0)1438 488066.

Virtual, Interactive Training – how can it benefit your service training?

Posted on:

“We only train on real equipment and are unable to simulate a full range of potential faults.”

“Following a hands-on training course, our trainees may not come across the equipment again for months resulting in skill-fade.”

“We’re spending significant amounts of money paying for trainers and trainees to travel long distances for training.”

“Our trainees learn best by “doing” and our e-learning does not enable this.”

“We’ve been using the same training methods for years – how can we update our training to appeal to the workforce of today?”

These are just an example of some of the issues we hear about at Agility3 when speaking to large equipment manufacturers and operators about their technical training. These types of issues and others, can be addressed using virtual, interactive training solutions and this is something Agility3 are focused on helping our clients deliver. For an example of the type of solution we can develop at Agility3 please take a look at our YouTube playlist.

Figure 1 – Agility3 Interactive Maintenance Trainer

Our core team at Agility3 have an extensive background and capability in developing virtual, interactive training solutions particularly to support training on the maintenance, service and operation of large and complex equipment. Most of our experience in this area has been within the Defence industry, where the benefits of virtual training solutions for training on equipment such as jet fighters, military helicopters, UAVs and more, have been proven over many years. Now, we want to help other industries who are manufacturing, maintaining and operating large and complex equipment, to realise these benefits too, but what kind of benefits are we talking about?

Reducing Training Costs

Whilst there is initial investment required to implement virtual training solutions, the cost savings that can be made in the long term are, potentially, very high and offer a clear Return on Investment. Some examples of cost saving areas are:

  • Travel costs – virtual training can be delivered remotely and does not require the learner to travel to specific locations.
  • Accommodation costs – supplementing hands-on training courses with virtual training can reduce the amount of time needed on a training course, thus reducing the cost of accommodation and subsistence for learners.
  • Instructor time – larger numbers of trainees can be trained without the need to increase the numbers of instructors. It may also be possible to reduce the amount of instructor contact time required.
  • Equipment downtime – hands-on training often requires real equipment which cannot be used for its main purpose whilst being used for training thus reducing productivity and representative physical mock-ups are expensive.
  • Equipment breakages – if equipment is broken through training there are obvious cost implications. Reducing reliance and time needed training on real equipment or physical mock-ups reduces the chance of this happening.
  • Using virtual training, staff are able to learn at times to suit them and potentially learn more quickly, therefore reducing disruption to their day-to-day work and the indirect costs associated with having staff on training courses.

 
Increased Accessibility

Organisations that focus their training around access to real equipment or physical mock-ups are limited by their availability. If the real equipment or physical mock-ups are not available for training, then the core training cannot take place. In contrast to this, virtual training applications can be accessed whenever and wherever they are required, and a virtual representation of the equipment can be given to every trainee to access whenever they want or need. This leads to increases in capacity for the number of learners.

It has also already been mentioned that virtual training can take place anywhere. This is enabled by the fact that the virtual training solutions we develop at Agility3 can be deployed via a range of platforms including:

  • PC/laptop
  • Mobile devices (tablet/phone)
  • Large touchscreens
  • Over the internet or through the cloud
  • Virtual Reality
  • Augmented Reality

Safe

Safety is an obvious, yet supremely important, benefit. Training in a virtual environment protects the learner from potentially hazardous and dangerous scenarios whilst also preventing real equipment from being unintentionally damaged or broken. It enables mistakes to be made without the consequences that would occur in the real world. Having learners experience dangerous situations and things going wrong is very valuable for training but is challenging to achieve safely in the real world. Virtual training allows the learners to do this. This is especially important for training new recruits.

High Training Value

Often, organisations we speak to only provide hands-on technical training on real or mock-up equipment, but they are unable to simulate a full range of potential faults and scenarios because it is dangerous, expensive or impractical to do so. Virtual training offers a solution to this issue and can provide trainees with the cognitive exposure to any possible scenario, enhancing the breadth and the value of the training experience.

Many companies supplement their hands-on training with e-learning modules. Whilst e-learning is helpful when delivered effectively, it typically involves the trainee having to read and digest a lot of information to try and understand the subject matter without actually putting their understanding into practice through interaction with the equipment. Much research exists, such as that highlighted in Figure 2, showing that humans learn best when “doing”. Replacing or complimenting e-learning with virtual training that involves the learner interacting with the equipment and carrying out procedures is the most valuable training available in the absence of the real equipment. This learning by “doing” enhances learning retention and helps to increase the speed of training and the throughput of learners.

Figure 2 – Research based on Edgar Dale’s “Cone of Experience”

Compared to page-turning e-learning, training is also made more fun and enjoyable through virtual, interactive training and is more memorable for the learner.

Improved Instructor Monitoring

The virtual training solutions we develop at Agility3 can include functionality to improve and enhance instructor monitoring. This includes features such as learner action tracking, the ability to virtually peek over the learner’s shoulder to monitor progress, integration with learning management systems and learner performance feedback. Learner performance information, such as that shown in Figure 3 enables instructors to see where the learner may need additional training or knowledge allowing them to tailor follow-on learning.

Figure 3 – Agility3 Example of Virtual Training Performance Feedback

Relevance to the Workforce of today

It is well documented that there is, generally speaking, a lack of young people choosing an engineering related career and that there is a skill shortage in this area. As a result, organisations responsible for manufacturing, operating and/or maintaining highly engineered and complex equipment can struggle to acquire new recruits.

The virtual training applications we develop at Agility3 are built upon technology used within the gaming industry. These technologies are becoming ever more relevant and familiar with young people and organisations that are seen to be utilising these technologies as part of their training (and in other areas potentially) are likely to be deemed as innovative and interesting to young people. This can help attract and retain new recruits.

Summary

Whilst we do not encourage the complete replacement of hands-on practical equipment training with virtual solutions, this article has sought to present some of the key benefits that can be gained through supplementing and complimenting hands-on training with virtual solutions. The value that can be added by enabling realistic, interactive training through a range of deployment platforms is vast and is key when considering Returns on Investment.

This article was written by Louis Drakes, Business Coordinator at Agility3. If you would like to learn more about the virtual, interactive 3D solutions we develop at Agility3 and how they could benefit your training offering, please get in touch at louis.drakes@agility3.co.uk or call on (+44) 01438 488066. We look forward to hearing from you.

We’re Hiring!

Posted on:

Interested in joining our friendly team based in our office just outside of Stevenage? If you’re into developing cutting edge 3D applications or creating 3D models we want to hear from you. Please email your CV for any of the following roles to david.turner@agility3.co.uk

3D content modeller – We are looking for talented and enthusiastic 3D modelling generalists who can use 3D modelling tools such as 3D Studio Max to create efficient low-poly models of real-world environments or vehicles based on source 3D and photographic data.

Software Developer – 3D Visualisation – We are looking for enthusiastic software developers to join the team and help develop engaging visualisation applications using the latest 3D games technology. Candidates must be confident programmers with a proven mathematical mind and a working knowledge of object-oriented programming techniques.

The Applied Visualisation Forum – how can visualisation help your business?

Posted on:

Is 2019 the year your company are going to embrace visualisation technology to help you achieve your business goals? If it is, or even if it’s just an area you’re exploring or interested in, we’d suggest getting yourselves registered for the free-to-attend Applied Visualisation Forum on Wednesday 30th of January 2019.

The event, held at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, is a brilliant opportunity to meet with practitioners, researchers and technology providers to hear and see how VR, AR, Digital Twins and other aspects of visualisation, are being applied across industries for a range of benefits.

Having attended the event in 2017 and 2018, this year we’re excited to be exhibiting! On our stand we’ll be showcasing a selection of visualisation applications that we have developed for various clients involving Virtual Reality, Digital Twins, 3D Visualisation of complex data and more. We look forward to meeting you there and showing you how visualisation has benefited our clients and how it can benefit your organisation too.

WindTwin – Digital Twin to support Wind Farm Operation & Maintenance

This article was written by Louis Drakes, Business Coordinator at Agility3. If you have any questions or would like any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch at louis.drakes@agility3.co.uk or call on (+44) 01438 488066.

©2019 Agility3

3D Virtual Environments – How to maximise the value of BIM data

Posted on:

At Agility3, the development of high quality, virtual 3D environments is one of our core capabilities. Typical examples of our work include:

  • driving simulator environments to enable complex road layouts to be trialled during the design phase,
  • interactive 3D Visualisations to enable stakeholders to experience the design of a new building and compare options, or
  • interactive visualisations to show how safe access will be maintained during construction.

Figure 1 shows an example environment produced for a driving simulator trial. Further examples of our work can be seen on our portfolio page.

Figure 1 – Agility3 Driving Simulator Urban Virtual Environment Example

One of the crucial, early conversations we have with clients, when discussing a project, is around the data they have. The availability of good quality data describing the subject matter has a huge impact on the effort required to produce a 3D virtual environment as well as the quality and accuracy that can be achieved. With the emergence of BIM as a methodology of choice, over the last few years, we are often asked, “How can BIM data be used to create virtual environments?”.

BIM, or Building Information Modelling, is more an approach to collaborative working than a set of defined data standards or formats, but a BIM dataset will typically include 2D and 3D CAD models describing all aspects of the planned construction project that can be accessed by all stakeholders on a project.

The benefits of BIM Data reuse will vary enormously from project to project, depending on the data that is available, the quality of the data and the detail contained within it.

At a basic level, 2D CAD drawings (see Figure 2) can provide an excellent basis from which to develop a 3D virtual environment. Data provided must be to scale (ideally 1:1) and have good resolution so that curves are as smooth as possible. It must also contain all elements that should be represented in the 3D virtual environment, ideally on separate, appropriately named layers and must reflect the state of the real environment that is to be represented. It is possible to make changes to bring supplied CAD data up to date but this adds to the overall effort required.

We can work with a range of data formats, however we have found that DWG, DXF and SKP formats of CAD data are some of the easiest to reuse.

Figure 2 – 2D line CAD elevation drawing example (source: www,autodesk.co.uk)

From the example data shown in Figure 2 we would be able to efficiently create a 3D virtual environment that accurately depicts the planned new road layout. This could be used in a driving simulator or 3D visualisation application to trial the new layout, to improve communication, engage stakeholders and obtain more valuable feedback earlier in the project. Generally, as a project progresses, rectification of issues becomes more and more complex and expensive, so being able to recognise these issues early, using an accurate 3D model, makes modifications easier and more cost effective.

As already described, the type of 2D CAD data depicted in Figure 2 would serve as a good basis for the development of a 3D virtual environment. However, if 3D CAD data is available, then this provides a far superior foundation from which a 3D virtual environment can be developed. With 2D CAD data we often have to make a ‘best guess’ with the third dimension which can result in inaccuracies in the developed 3D model. For many applications, these inaccuracies don’t pose a significant problem and the usability of the 3D virtual environment is not affected. However, where accuracy and detail is of primary importance, 3D CAD data is invaluable. In addition, the availability of 3D CAD data allows us to more rapidly understand the requirements of a project and ultimately save time and effort in the design and development of a virtual environment.

The provided 3D CAD models can be imported into 3D modelling tools, such as 3D Studio Max, used by Agility3 and can form the basis of the virtual environment. This helps to ensure the virtual environment accurately reflects the real environment and CAD data is far easier to work with than a purely textual description of the environment or line drawings. Starting from the CAD, we would then optimise the data, adding visual details as required and applying high quality textures and materials to the environment. Finally, the environment is configured specifically for the end use requirements, whether that is for a driving simulator or interactive fly-through. Our in-house software development team are often required to create interactive applications using the virtual environments, for example, to switch between different design options, times of day or phases through construction. Figure 3 shows a virtual environment developed for the rail domain being used within an interactive application developed by our software team.

Figure 3 – Agility3 Rail Infrastructure Virtual Environment Example

In the absence of CAD data, a LIDAR scan of the area (see Figure 4) is a good substitute when you need to represent an existing environment. LIDAR is particularly effective for capturing fine detail and the precise positions of objects. Potentially, the 3D models that we would create for the virtual environment could be incorporated back into the BIM dataset and made available for all project stakeholders, thus contributing towards BIM compliance. The use of LIDAR is already widespread and continuing to grow. Currently, LIDAR point cloud data is traced within the 3D modelling tools to create an accurate 3D virtual environment. This process can be very time consuming and often requires more effort than working from CAD data, however, new commercially available tools are being developed which can automate some of the conversion from LIDAR point cloud to polygonal geometry. As these tools mature, modelling virtual environments from LIDAR will become quicker and easier, reducing the difference in effort required compared to working from CAD data.

Figure 4 – LIDAR point cloud example (source: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/publications/road-talk/road-talk-19-spring.shtml)

The ideal form of BIM data that can be supplied to generate a virtual environment as accurately and efficiently as possible, is a pre-existing, low-polygon, accurate 3D model of the environment. This can be further optimised, representative textures applied and then configured to operate smoothly within the required 3D visualisation.

Ultimately, there are many forms of BIM data that can be used to help develop virtual environments and the available data can vary considerably in terms of quality, content and accuracy. This will impact the accuracy of the delivered virtual environment as well as the time and cost to develop it. Therefore, we would recommend that developers of BIM data:

  • Consider all the potential stakeholders that may wish to reuse the data,
  • Produce accurate CAD data in standard formats,
  • Configure data to be easily understood with objects intuitively named and separated into different layers or groups and keep data up-to-date.

Good quality data can be reused multiple times, increasing the value of the data and the return on the data investment. High quality virtual environments can provide huge value to infrastructure and construction projects and the availability and reuse of good quality data can result in substantial savings. Therefore, when considering requirements for a simulator environment or interactive 3D visualisation, first consider the data that can be provided.

This article was written by Louis Drakes, Business Coordinator at Agility3. If you have any questions or would like any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch at louis.drakes@agility3.co.uk or call on (+44) 01438 488066.

©2018 Agility3

Agility3 is looking for a talented and enthusiastic software engineer

Posted on:

We’ve got some very exciting opportunities coming up so we’re on the lookout for great software engineers with Unity development experience. Follow the link to find out more…
A3.JDN.004 – Software Developer – 3D Visualisation

Agility3 will be at Rail Infrastructure Networking in London this Thursday

Posted on:

The next Rail Infrastructure Networking event is only 3 days away. The event takes place on 22nd February at the Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0QH, 9:30am to 12:30pm and is free to attend.

Whether you are interested in highly realistic 3D visualisations to engage stakeholders, interactive equipment emulation to help train maintainers or are looking to understand how Virtual Reality could improve training outcomes and help teams make better decisions, drop in and learn how Agility3 can help you.

To find out more about the event visit the event website at http://www.rinevents.co.uk/. For more information about Agility3 and what we offer, please contact us via info@agility3.co.uk or call us on 01438 488066.

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

©2018 Agility3 Limited

Agility3 develop another high quality virtual environment for next generation driving simulator

Posted on:

One of the highlights of 2017 for Agility3 was the delivery of another stunning 3D environment for use in driving simulators.

Norwegian driving simulator provider, AutoSim, selected Agility3 to produce a 3D virtual environment for use by their Thailand customer for the safety training of professional truck and bus drivers. The environment comprised a range of very different and challenging driving areas.

To work with AutoSim’s next generation truck driving simulator, the virtual environment was developed using the Unity development platform and made use of the latest lighting features. The overall finished product is something we’re really proud of and feedback from the customer was very positive.

For more information please feel free to contact us via info@agility3.co.uk or call us on 01438 488066.

©2018 Agility3 Limited

Exciting New VR Projects from Agility3

Posted on:

As the New Year approaches we at Agility3 are looking forward to some very exciting projects for next year, particularly around Virtual Reality (VR), having completed several demos and projects over the last six months. These include…

Tube Train Passenger/Driver VR Experience

An immersive train station experience where users can navigate station platforms, on to and off trains, move within and between carriages and even experience driving a train. This type of experience would be extremely beneficial for enhancing passenger experience, driver training or even train station redevelopment. Take a look at some footage here.

Hazard Perception VR Driving Simulation

A driver training aid that requires users to react to various hazards presented to them as they drive around a residential environment. Statistics are captured and provided on their performance. Take a look at some footage here.

Interactive Building VR Walkthrough

VR experiences to help stakeholders understand how a new building or space may look and function once constructed. This can reduce project risk, increase stakeholder engagement and result in better overall design. Interactive features within the experience can enable users to customise the environment and compare or contrast different options.

If you would like to find out more about our VR capabilities, try any of the experiences mentioned or discuss a potential project please do get in touch on 01438 488066 or info@agility3.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you in 2018.