Ariane 6 is propelled into the virtual world
...supported by ART Motion Capture.
Subject to commercial constraints, ArianeGroup now massively uses virtual reality to shorten the design times for its launchers.
"Viewing in immersive 3D rather than 2D / 3D makes reflection easier," says Christophe Reig, head of virtual reality at ArianeGroup. “The objectives are to visualize the product at scale 1 and to detect as early as possible all the risks of collision, of telescoping between the different components. It is often the transient events that pose a problem, ”he emphasizes.
This notably involves taking into account the kinematics of all the material elements and also the movements of the operators. "For example, for access to trap doors," explains the manager.
To help resolve these issues, ArianeGroup has been using virtual reality since 2010.
A few years ago, the company chose to use the SkyReal solution to replace the VR solution in use at the time. A natural choice, this specialized start-up being a spin-off of the Airbus Group.
Since then, the use of this technology has become commonplace for design. For two years, she has been employed in several Ariane 6 design processes. Project managers have integrated this virtual step as part of the product / tooling design review and industrial process validation (assembly of parts, tests, maintenance). Another advantage is that the history of tests performed in VR facilitates reverse engineering.
Technically, VR software is linked to the information system. “A connector with our Teamcenter PLM tool allows component updates. The tool also imports Catia files from partner design offices, explains Christophe Reig. The tool is equipment agnostic. It can be used with Oculus and HTC headsets, etc. The only constraint is that each model of headset must be validated by our cybersecurity service, ”he emphasizes.
At the end of the simulation, a feature called BackToCad makes it possible to send back the modifications, part trajectories for example, in files in Catia format.
While a strictly financial return on investment has not been defined, "the use of this technology today dramatically reduces decision-making loops, iterations on designs, as well as the number of actual mockups. For example, design times were halved to define the preliminary piping design for a new generation Ariane 6 engine, ”he adds.
This approach also limits back and forth between the different entities of the group thanks to the collaborative work possibilities offered by the VR solution. This advantage is all the more obvious given that ArianeGroup is located at several remote sites.
Today, Christophe Reig plans to switch to the latest version of Skyreal, which can be used in a Cave-type immersion system, so without a helmet. “We are in the process of testing,” he concludes.