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Center Innovation Fund: GSFC CIF

Engineering Concept Design & Assembly in VR Program

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This multi-year IRAD proposal, in a strategic partnership with University of Maryland (UMD) and Bowie State University (BSU), creates a collaborative virtual reality (VR) tool for concept design and assembly in VR from a database of pre-defined "parts", enabling engineers and scientists to work in a shared VR environment, as part of a concept design or pre-phase A proposal process.  The proposal will define a domain agnostic database for specifying a set of physical, off-the-shelf, plug and play parts with reduced detail shape/CAD files and migrate existing domain-specific GSFC database(s) to this format, to quickly realize a collaborative, model-based VR engineering environment for prototyping, assembly mockup, and visualizations for pre-phase A work.

This proposal will create a collaborative VR environment for early stage design and assembly of hardware projects from pre-defined, off-the-shelf parts as part of a concept design or pre-phase A proposal process.  The project will:

  • Create a database of metadata about parts
  • Create a collaborative VR environment where users
    • Visualize a complete project design composed of off-the-shelf parts at real-world scales (or user-selected scales) and at any orientation
    • View and select off the shelf parts, and drag-and-drop them into a design
    • Layout and orient parts including alignment and mounting holes
    • Use virtual tools to determine tool paths and whether the model can be assembled in the real world without expensive manufacturing, physical prototypes or 3D printing
  • Export projects as documents with assembly information and pictures at a level appropriate for pre-phase A proposals

The VR environment can also help the downstream process with communication and planning between scientists and engineers in the Mission Design Lab (MDL) or for educational outreach.  The first year will culminate in an alpha app for mechanical engineers for concept design and assembly mockups.

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