Scotland’s Fife College has opened an Immersive Hybrid Reality lab which provides ultra-realistic training environments for offshore wind turbine technicians.
The enhanced virtual reality system, installed at Fife College’s Rosyth Campus to enhance the training and development of the next generation of offshore wind turbine technicians, allows students to conduct detailed fault-finding inspections of the top of a virtual 7 megawatt offshore wind turbine, based on ORE Catapult’s Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine.
The hybrid element combines the real and virtual worlds, allowing users to see their own hands and feet, real tools or manuals, whilst seemingly at the top of the turbine, over 110m above the waves. Combined with the sounds of the wind and changing weather conditions, it provides one of the most realistic training environments anywhere in the world.
“Working at an extreme height is a very unique experience – using Immersive Hybrid Reality (iHR) means we can combine real and virtual worlds to offer training that is second to none in a safe environment. Our new lab will benefit both wind turbine and our other engineering students, over 200 in total per year with scope to capture additional commercial clients,” Nicky Inglis, Head of Department for Engineering and Technologies at Fife College, said.
The iHR system has been developed by the Energy Skills Partnership, Heriot-Watt University and Middlesbrough-based visualisation specialists, Animmersion UK, in partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.
The first phase has created a top-of-turbine inspection, with phase two to develop an inspection of the inside working of the turbine now well underway.
The iHR lab was unveiled by Scottish Government Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP.
“I am delighted to announce £50,000 of funding to the Energy Skills Partnership to continue and expand their excellent work,” Minister Somerville said.
“It is important that we continue to develop a workforce that is properly skilled and one that is familiar with new technologies and innovative practices that lead the way. It will no doubt be the skills and confidence of our workforce that help us build a stronger economy going forward and it is therefore right that we continue to invest in projects like this.”