This paper was produced for the 2019 NAFEMS World Congress in Quebec Canada
Up until now, collaboration in the CAE space has been mostly carried out by enhancing CAE workflows with traditional tools such as web meetings, chat, document commenting /annotating, document repositories, screen sharing, etc... In fact, better options than these simple workarounds cannot be expected in the absence of built-in 3D model-sharing capabilities in standard CAE software tools. Of course, the lack of such features has a reason: working together and at the same time on today's large 3D models is not as simple as sharing views and edits on say, a Word document or an Excel table on Dropbox or Google Drive.
However, new remote visualization technologies have slowly surfaced in recent years, opening the way to true web-based collaboration, with or without a shared immersive user-experience such as VR. The angular stone of the system is an advanced client/server-based architecture using client-side 3D graphics rendering which provides desktop-like performance and user experiences even when collaborating on large 3D models [NWC17-747: 3D visualization of large-scale CAE models in the Cloud, the technology, benchmarks, and industrial applications].
This paper will explore the use of cloud / web and virtual reality (VR) as enabling technologies for true collaborative CAE. We will focus on two specific different types of design reviews as use cases: i) asynchronous cloud-based sharing and collaboration of 3D CAE models across organizational boundaries; and ii) immersive synchronous multi-avatar collaboration in large 3D ship models. Both use cases have strict requirements to planning / preparation, review conduct, hot spot / issue analysis, documentation, and simply generic IT capabilities like multi-site, interaction performance, communication channels (incl. voice), and security. We will furthermore present computer / software architectures, including collaboration feature sets, for the two use cases. We will finally identify the benefits and limitations in using CAE-specific collaboration technology and venturing beyond traditional collaboration tools.
Methodologically, our results are based on interim results from our participation in an R&D project on VR for ship design reviews that we are currently undertaking together with DNV GL, leading provider of ship classification services.
This paper may help organizations with collaborative CAE workflows and an intent of increasing effectiveness, efficiency and output quality for such workflows, achieve their goals. It may also provide inspiration for CAE software providers that are currently considering extending their software tools with CAE-specific collaboration tools.