Typically, the helicopter design process takes five to seven years to complete — but Bell just used Virtual Reality (VR) systems to design their FXC-001 helicopter in only six months.
Bell recently released a video explaining their evolving VR design process and held a panel at the VR/AR Global Summit to discuss the practical use of incorporating VR into future product concepts and using it to enhance customer experience.
The Traditional Helicopter Design Process
During a typical helicopter design process, the engineer will build a physical mock-up of the aircraft. Then, a pilot will climb into the cockpit and provide feedback. The engineer takes that feedback, makes a new model, and the process repeats until the design is finalized. This process is expensive, with delays costing millions of dollars, and it is incredibly time-consuming.
How VR Is Making Helicopter Design 10x Faster
Now, pilots can put on their VR headsets and sit in a virtual cockpit that Bell designers created using HTC Vive. As Will Williamson, a demonstration pilot at Bell, explains, “That allows us the real-time ability to say ‘That’s too far, or I don’t have enough visibility through this part of the window.’”
Issues can be fixed instantly, without losing any time to build a new mock-up. By the time the first physical model is crafted, the helicopter design has already been fine-tuned for a better user experience.
The Latest in a Long Line of Bell Firsts
Bell has been a leader in the aircraft industry for 80 years. They built the first helicopter certified for civilian use, the first American jet fighter, and the first aircraft to break the sound barrier. The brilliant incorporation of VR into their design process is just one more way that Bell is thinking above and beyond.
Will Your Next Helicopter Be Designed in VR?
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