January 27, 2020

VTT develops AR tool for astronauts

VTT's solution allows for supervised and solo training on the ground and in space.
Pixabay

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has delivered an augmented reality learning and operations tool for the European Space Agency (ESA) to provide astronauts the advantages of human-machine collaboration.

Supporting astronauts in training and working as an in-flight safety system, the solution has proved its usefulness in ESA’s testing phase. Used with Microsoft’s HoloLens-AR head-mounted display, it offers an alternative to contact with mission control when performing repair tasks during space missions and improves astronaut training on the ground.

“The tool we have developed reduces the risk of human error and significantly speeds up the work performance,” explained Kaj Helin, principal scientist at VTT.

“The tool uses augmented reality in a new way that is of great help in demanding maintenance and installation tasks of critical importance with a view to security or financial costs in other sectors as well, such as mines, paper mills and nuclear power plants.”

The device can also be used for in-flight training during lengthy future missions, such as the six-month outward journey to Mars.

“There is a strong interest in the AR field from ESA and the way VTT works with challenges of interest to ESA,” said Mikael Wolff, technical officer at ESA. “So VTT is on a path that we ESA see as very fruitful – both for spacecraft testing and human space flight applications.”

ESA has incorporated the AR tool into a development project which began in late 2019, continuing its over a decade-long fruitful relationship with VTT.

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