The Challenge

As leaders of innovation in aeronautics, Airbus were looking for a new and innovative way to demonstrate products at events celebrating products that exist today as well as the Airbus products of tomorrow. Render’s challenge was to devise a solution that could do this in a visually exciting and engaging way, while also being informative.

The Challenge

 

Celebrating today’s capabilities

Airbus wanted to bring a range of existing products to life, including the A400M, H175, A330 Neo and the ISS. Render’s solution needed to demonstrate each products capabilities in a variety of ways, including a simulated extraction mission in a hostile environment; a ‘search and rescue’ at sea mission; and a customer experience simulation in the A330 Neo jet airliner.

Showcasing tomorrow’s vision

When it came to showcasing Airbus’ products of tomorrow – the ISS, Space Tug, MRTT and City Airbus – Render’s challenge was to show these future products in a number of real-life scenarios. The ISS of tomorrow needed to show how the world could be connected in the air; Space Tug needed to demonstrate its performance in the refuel and maintenance of satellites; MRTT needed to show vehicle communications connectivity in a mission scenario; and City Airbus needed to showcase an autonomous, airborne vehicle that could transport passengers high above the congested roads below. Not an easy task when the not all of products physically exist yet.

Our Response

Creating unique experiences

Airbus’ challenging brief was the ideal proposition for a virtual reality (VR) solution. Working closely with the team at Airbus, we determined how best to demonstrate each product’s capability. Combining this insight with our VR expertise, we created eight unique VR experiences, viewable using the latest HTC Vive headset. Each VR experience brought Airbus’ vision to life, instantly putting the user at the heart of each scenario, allowing them to experience the products for themselves in complete context, and at scale – something that would be impossible in reality.

 

 

Making the virtual real

To also ensure each VR experience was captivating and memorable, we made them as close to reality as possible while delivering a cinematic feel. For example, in the H175 helicopter scenario, we put the user at the centre of a high pressure search and rescue mission to save a fisherman stranded at sea. This required experimentation with both user interactions and the water to recreate the uneasy feeling of being submerged.

Imagine being able to see a cityscape being transformed into a highway in the sky. This was our challenge in creating the City Airbus experience. Because no photography or imagery of the actual vehicle existed, we used CAD data and concept drawings to recreate it. This wasn’t the only challenge, we also had to create an environment that was representative of the infrastructure of flying vehicles. We created a landing pad within an airport scene as well as a lane system when it came to the vehicle flying in the air.

 

 

The Results

Since launch, the VR experiences have attracted huge numbers to Airbus’ exhibition stands – The experiences were used as part of Airbus’ first fully digital event at the Paris Air Show – one of the largest air shows in the world. Our experiences have also helped to continue to raise awareness of Airbus as innovators within aeronautics.

Create once, use forever

To create the VR experiences we used a combination of Airbus’ existing real-time assets; 3D data that we transformed into real-time assets; as well as 3D modelling from scratch to make real-time ready. Now the 3D artwork has been completed, Airbus has access to a real-time asset library that can be reused and repurposed across the business – helping to support Airbus’ ever expanding digital asset base.  In fact, some of the assets we created were also repurposed and used in the HoloLens application that was also at the Paris Air Show.

VR allows Airbus to more easily communicate to our customers our range of products and services and allows people to not just see and hear about the company’s products but to be placed at the heart of the Airbus experience.

Dirk Erat, Head of Digital, Airbus DS

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