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Sikorsky's CH-53K Beta Tested in Virtual Reality

The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation has been manufacturing helicopters ever since Igor Sikorsky mass-produced the R-4 back in 1940.  So if anyone understands the difficulties in making one from scratch, it'd be the company that good old Igor left behind. That's why they've developed a Virtual Reality Center to help their designers build better choppers, specifically, the CH53K heavy lifter.

This virtual environment built using data from a 12-camera setup to determine a user's position. A heads-up display, sensor gloves and a force-feedback tool lets the user interact with the virtual helicopter. Crafting this 3-D environment needs a lot of computing power: hence, they share all that processor load among three computers.

So far, the virtual walkthrough has already helped engineers identify some fuel lines that need to be modified. This alone has helped the company save about $18 million, which is what it would've cost them to find the problem, and correct it, in real life.

[source: Sikorsky via Gizmag]