Undersea Warfare Center - Virtual Presence

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport will become the first Department of the Navy command with a virtual world presence when it launches Virtual NUWC on Linden Labs’s 3D online world Second Life at the Undersea Defense Technology (UDT) Pacific Conference in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday, November 5. (http://slurl.com/secondlife/USS%20Nautilus/125/80/26/)

A virtual research and development facility covering 128 virtual acres representing the NUWC Newport campus dotted with recognizable Newport landmarks, Virtual NUWC is capable of supporting more than 500 avatars at any one time.  The campus features replicas of many NUWC laboratories actually located on the NUWC campus, as well as additional facilities, including a visitors’ center, movie theaters, submarine replicas, an electronic library, and underwater exhibits.

Because the technology is immersive, first-time visitors will be required to create a free account and in the process, an avatar, which represents a 3-D depiction of their online physical presence in the virtual world.  Visitors will control their avatars through their keyboards and have the ability to travel throughout the campus while they interact with other avatars they encounter.

First-time visitors will arrive at the public access teleport site, beside a three story visitors’ center that includes basic information about NUWC Newport, such as its support of various undersea warfare mission areas as well as personnel and payroll data and information about various technical departments.  Just outside of the visitors’ center is a series of orientation trails that are intended to familiarize first-time visitors with how to make their avatars interact in Second Life.  Below the visitors’ center is a Navy pier where a full-scale replica of the submarine USS Virginia will be docked.  For the UDT-Pacific

Conference, the HMAS Collins will be visiting the docks with a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) representative available to discuss US-RAN collaboration efforts.  A nearby “activities field” will support temporary events such as job fairs and guest speakers. 

Scattered throughout the campus are unique Newport landmarks that link the virtual campus to the actual Newport community, including the Claiborne Pell Bridge (the largest bridge in Second Life), Cliff Walk, the Rose Island Lighthouse, and Fort Adams.

Along the waterfront on the bottom portion of the campus is a 12-story electronic library tower, set on an island in the middle of “Newport harbor,” which features underwater exhibits designed to educate the general public about NUWC Newport’s support of Navy missions.  The library also faces a 120 foot tall outdoor movie screen for mass viewing of educational media while the screen is built into a virtual Convention Center used to showcase the many Navy programs that NUWC supports.

Other parts of the campus are devoted to collaboration and research and development objectives.  Eventually, remote users, such as Navy sailors assessing the potential applicability of a system, will be able to use their avatars to control actual tactical hardware/software via video networking capabilities while immersed in the virtual space. 

A 60-meter sonar acoustic tank will provide visualization of complex sonar problems such as environmental modeling, array characteristics, and sound propagation, while a multi-story sonar lab will also support acoustic experimentation. A nearby vehicle hanger will house autonomous and unmanned vehicles that will be available for viewing and demonstration via simulation connectivity. 

The south-western corner of the campus is a collaborative theatre visualization range that will provide immersed scaled visualization.  These 16 acres of water can be scaled to show a torpedo shot as well as live theater-level Navy exercises, where ships are reduced scale. 

(Source: Naval Undersea Warfare Center)

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