Augment reality (AR) blurs the line between what's real and what's computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell. We often hear about this technology being used within video games or virtual dressing rooms. However, as this technology advances, we are starting to understand how it can be used to revolutionize the way we work.
Lockheed Martin Space have recently announced that they have began to incorporate augment reality tools within their spacecraft manufacturing process. Traditionally, manufacturers have relied upon paper manuals (sometimes thousands of pages in length) to determine the instructions of the manufacturing process. Recently, companies like Boeing and Airbus have began to experiment with using augmented reality to guide their workers with instructions. Until recently this approach has remained within the testing phase.
In a recent interview with Spacecraft technicians building a NASA Space Launch System, they spoke about putting on AR headsets at the beginning of each day to get a clear understanding of the project in front of them. In the headset, the workers can see holograms displaying models that are created through engineering design software from Scope AR. Models of parts and labels are overlaid on already assembled pieces of spacecraft. Information like torquing instructions—how to twist things—can be displayed right on top of the holes to which they are relevant, and workers can see what the finished product will look like.
The results of the AR have been dramatic - with technicians needing far less time to familiarize themselves with new tasks and perform processes. This has prompted the organization to expand the use of he headsets - with ambitions of having astronauts using AR to maintain spacecrafts within space. According Lockheed Martin's head of emerging technology, Shelley Peterson, “What we want astronauts to be able to do is have maintenance capability that’s much more intuitive than going through text or drawing content".
Reading about Lockheed's recent movements has opened my eyes to the unprecedented potential of augmented reality to revolutionize manufacturing operations. I'm certainly engaged to see where this can take us!
“If you were to look five years down the road, I don’t think you will find an efficient manufacturing operation that doesn’t have this type of augmented reality to assist the operators,”