ST Engineering Antycip has upgraded the visual display systems of Charlie and Oscar, the 360-degree view ship bridge simulators at HR Wallingford’s UK Ship Simulation Center in Oxfordshire.
HR Wallingford designs smart, resilient solutions across the natural and built environments to help everyone live and work more sustainably with water. Its UK base is home to physical modelling laboratories (which house, among other facilities, wave basins, a river floodplain modelling area and a tsunami simulation facility) and the UK Ship Simulation Centre. In addition to the two ship bridge simulators, this also features two 360-degree view tug bridge simulators (Victor and Romeo), two portable tug stations (Mike and Lima), and a VTS (vessel traffic services) simulator. Both of the ship bridge simulators comprise a fully functioning bridge surrounded by a 360-degree simulated field of view.
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John Mould, commercial development manager for ST Engineering Antycip, explained that HR Wallingford needed a higher resolution display to improve the image quality and object recognition of Charlie and Oscar’s display systems, particularly in the context of a new visual application being developed in house. “They also wished to ensure longevity of the hardware, which made solid-state projection technologies desirable to replace the lamp-based units that were currently deployed, and to avoid consumables in the future,” he added.
Tasked with identifying 4K-resolution laser projectors that would allow 360° projection covering the full height of the ship bridge simulator screens, ST Engineering Antycip was “able to identify projectors and screen calibration systems to give a high-quality, seamless image with simple integration with HR Wallingford’s existing visualization software," explained Dr. James Clarke, technical director in the Ships and Dredging Group for HR Wallingford. The companies have worked together previously, with ST Engineering Antycip having supplied display solutions, COTS software tools and software engineering services to HR Wallingford in the past.
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Dr. Clarke explained that ship simulators are used to evaluate the layout of new port and terminal developments, to investigate the impact of new ships in existing ports or terminals, and for the continuous professional development of marine pilots and tug masters, as well as to recreate and scrutinize near misses and incidents in ports. Therefore, “it is essential that pilots and tug masters are able to utilize realistic, high-quality models of their actual port," he added.
To meet the brief given to them by HR Wallingford, Mould and the ST Engineering Antycip team specified two projector arrays each comprising seven Barco F90 4K projectors and an automatic calibration system by VIOSO, which digitally corrected the light paths to create a continuous 360-degree image and improved the uniformity of the display images.
The Barco projection hardware was equipped with “90-degree elbow lens optics,” explained Mould, “that could address the requisite image size operating beneath the elevated bridge platform structure” of the ship simulators. “This model of projector also enabled a perceived 4K pixel resolution thanks to the high-bandwidth electronics, courtesy of the Barco pulse architecture onboard.”
“The selection of VIOSO was easy,” he added. "Its VR and simulation software has been successfully implemented on many of our demanding simulator projects to date and we knew that its calibration data could be directly applied to the user’s run-time rendering application to correct and modify the visual outputs from each of the GPUs.”
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Following the installation, said Clarke, HR Wallingford’s ship simulators benefit from brighter and higher-resolution images that “make the experience feel even more realistic for users. In particular, the identification and contrast of visual aids to navigation are significantly improved.”
“We are really pleased with the improved image quality, and customers have commented on the significant improvements for both day and night-time simulations, along with the increased field of view provided by the Barco projector systems,” he concluded.
“The team at ST Engineering Antycip were all delighted to engage with HR Wallingford and to find a solution that was ideal for their particular needs,” added Mould. “It was also a pleasure to work with a client so close to our UK offices and to see how their business has grown to enable such investment despite the challenges of the pandemic.”