Customer Engagement Centre

CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment: bringing defence technology to life

Raytheon Australia’s next generation Customer Engagement Centre (CEC), based at its corporate headquarters in Canberra, features a CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment which uses virtual reality techniques within a structure consisting of 72 large video screens positioned in a 320 degree arrangement. The CAVE utilises stereoscopic projection and 3D computer graphics and will be linked to similar CAVE facilities in the United States allowing real time collaboration between US and Australian teams.

The facility will be used for a range of defence related engineering tasks.  For example, CAVE technology can utilise a 3D scan of a warship’s command centre lay out and allow for the optimal placement of equipment and cabling without the need to build expensive mock ups to demonstrate concepts. This will allow Defence officials to walk through a 3D virtual mock-up of a layout prior to procuring any physical equipment, therefore limiting any risk of expensive rework and design change. This technology also extends to modelling manufacturing facilities to improve quality and manufacturing speed by focusing on building layout, material flow and automation.

Three-dimensional visualisation “levels the playing field” by eliminating the need for all participants to understand two-dimensional (2D) technical drawings and other specifications to the same technical depth. Using the CAVE, cross-functional teams communicate using the common language of visualization, giving each participant the ability to contribute to reviews equally. From design and systems engineers, to customers and suppliers, this added comprehension enables increased team participation and communication, better team alignment, and more informed decisions.

At Raytheon facilities in Boston, Massachusetts and Tucson, Arizona similar versions of the CAVE are used for a range of purposes. For example, in a process referred to as Design for Manufacture and Assembly, the CAVE is utilised as a virtual prototyping tool to provide for improvements in production design and upgrades for products such as the company’s extensive portfolio of guided missiles. In this context, engineers use the facility to visualise and interact with life sized representations of their product designs before actual production activities commence. Design teams can explore their conceptual designs at a much lower cost than building physical prototypes. This process has allowed for the identification of defects in the design phase of military programs, saving substantial amounts in subsequent rework. This capability extends to modelling the manufacturing facilities where the technology is used to improve quality and manufacturing speed by focusing on building layout, material flow and automation.

In addition to the Raytheon Australia CAVE facility in its Canberra headquarters a smaller, portable version of this capability will allow interaction between Raytheon and its small business suppliers.

The CEC was officially opened by the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry in August 2017 at a ceremony attended by Dr Thomas A. Kennedy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Raytheon Company.