Recently, a project team set out to virtualize the USS Iowa, a retired Navy battleship berthed at the Port of Los Angeles. Our goal was to collect data that could be used for any number of purposes. At the very least, we knew it would help improve design, operations and maintenance, training and more.
Turns out, it will also be used to support education efforts. After completing the data-collection process, we created a virtual turret experience for the USS Iowa Museum. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how it came together.
Step 1: Capturing the Exterior and Interior
The first stage of the USS Iowa project was to ‘capture’ the exterior and interior of the ship. No digital data previously existed, so we had to create it. Using scanners and drones, the team captured the entire exterior of the ship and all levels of Turret 1.
The interior spaces of the USS Iowa are complex to say the least. The spaces inside the turret are particularly fascinating. Some spacious, some extremely confined. All of them covered in 70+ years of hydraulic oil and cosmoline. Due to the hydraulic oil containing PCBs and California law regarding PCBs, we suited up in Tyvek and observed strict decontamination protocols upon entering and exiting the turret.
The result of the capture phase was a fully registered point cloud from the terrestrial laser scanning and from the sUAS-based LiDAR and a sUAS-based photogrammetry mesh.
The project team on top of Turret 1, USS Iowa
Calibrating the compass on a drone before the LiDAR flight.
Scanning a gun pit. The closed breech is at the top of the frame. The gun captain’s platform is in the lower right corner of the frame. Note the red stripe painted on the left wall. This indicates the distance the breech recoils when fired at various elevations.
Step 2: Model the Data
In the second phase of the project, we converted the data into solid models. From there, we created the virtual turret experience for the USS Iowa Museum. This involved translating the solid model into virtual reality using NVIDIA Holodeck technology.
NVIDIA’s Holodeck Technology helps create the USS Iowa virtual reality experience.
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Acknowledgements: Special thanks to the project team members and supporters: Gregg Lagnese and Dave Tyner from Autodesk; Andy Holroyd and Russell White from HTS Advanced Solutions; Doug Wiedman from Sierra Skyworks; and Dave Weinstein and Greg Jones from NVIDIA.