Because VR-training of future employees of key industry enterprises for our country is a future that has already come.
Hi, I’m director of business development at iVariant, a VR / AR development company for b2b projects for training technological, medical and engineering personnel. In addition to personalized training programs, we are developing the Varwin platform – something like Bitrix or WordPress, but for VR projects. The platform helps to independently create and edit scenarios of the learning process in virtual reality, even without programming skills.
Last year, we started cooperation with Gazprom Neft in the framework of research and development and together with the company we created a pilot personalized VR training, with which we tested the alpha version of the Varwin platform. We tell how it was.
We began to discuss the idea of working with the platform in 2017, before the launch of Varwin. The guys from Gazprom Neft shared their concept and internal requirements: thanks to these discussions, we were able to launch the platform and eventually create a VR course.
VR for Gazprom Neft is not a new story: the company has long been doing virtual tours for engineers on remote production facilities under construction.
In addition, in 2017, pilot courses were developed for training oil and gas production operators and training employees in working with lifting mechanisms.
Oil production is a complex production, where it is important to observe safety precautions and to operate equipment efficiently. In this case, the training of new employees is quite conservative.
We offered the best option for pilot training: an employee must perform a technological operation in VR, which includes several tasks, and earn the required number of points. He gets points when he performs a specific task: for example, he relieves pressure in a well or even signs in a safety logbook. At the same time, a person is in a virtual location, which repeats the real one, in which he will have to work in the future.
In general, the essence of VR-trainings for companies in safe education: in virtual reality, in contrast to real production, you can make mistakes.
The training is called the type of operation: “Replacing the valve”, and begins with a signature in the magazine on safety. Further along the course of the action, the algorithm takes into account everything – down to the direction in which the virtual wind is blowing.
As part of our pilot, after completing all the actions, the system automatically credits the user with the total points on which the trainer can assess how well the course has been mastered. By these points you can judge the person’s readiness to enter real work.
Work on the pilot began in October 2018 and in fact continues to this day. In the process there were sprints and an assessment of intermediate results (we launched new models, changed the logic of equipment operation, and so on). The team on our side is 8 people: a project manager, programmers (they write algorithms and place objects inside locations) and 3D modellers. The customer side also actively worked on the pilot: from the oil industry were the head and project administrator, a business representative (a functional customer who translated the requirements) and a technical expert from oil production (to consult us on technology issues).
We work on agile, so we made intermediate shows so that the customer could make adjustments on time. At the expense of working on our own platform, this is quite easy: we could immediately show the location, and then get rid of the training piece together with the company’s experts. The platform makes life easier for both customers and developers.
If we omit the standard stages for any projects, the work on VR training is structured as follows:
- First, we understand what our VR course will teach. Together with the customer, we choose the location, and then we discuss possible scenarios and work schedules that we want to transfer to VR.
- Reference from the customer: photos and videos for the start of work on the modeling of locations and objects. Gazprom Neft was important to make the virtual location as technically correct as possible.
- Decomposition of regulations and drafts of scenarios. We make the final versions of the scripts for development, we determine the necessary logic of the objects, the degree of their interactivity, and what logical blocks they should have in our script editor.
- Development of 3D-models and locations.
- Implementing object logic and loading them into the platform. At this stage, we develop the logic of objects and place them on a location.
- Development of script logic in the platform editor. We choose the order of actions that an employee must perform in VR. Well, and then – testing and adjustments
It is important to understand that we do not invent a new technology for each new training: it already exists on the basis of the Varwin platform. With its help, technically we can reproduce any object and any script. The main thing in working on a VR project is an algorithm that determines what a person should do in virtual reality. Such an algorithm is almost equal to the scenario for the film: let’s say, in one scene the participant must take a wrench and unscrew the valve, in the second – to report on the work on the radio.
Together with experts from Gazprom Neft, we did training for one participant. The multiplayer mode (in VR – usually up to 4 people) of the company is also interesting, but has not yet been implemented in the pilot project.
VR training takes place in a special training location: this is 25 square meters of free space – the average size of the part of the equipment that needs to be repaired in case of a breakdown. The student works in VR-glasses.
Important: in addition to the automatic evaluation system, the trainer can follow the process. He observes the picture from the player’s face on his 2D screen and sees the student’s individual problems. We all perceive and reproduce information in different ways: due to the fact that Varwin allows you to change the algorithms, the trainer can rearrange the emphasis in the tutorial program as needed by a specific employee. For example, several times to train the same skill until a person remembers the correct sequence of actions. To do this, do not have to completely restart the program.
The price for the project is calculated based on the objectives of the course and the amount of algorithmic work. The cost is influenced by the interactivity of the training: for example, a conditional apartment with furniture in a VR environment you can walk on will be very cheap. And if in such an apartment you can cook, move chairs and tables, turn the TV on and off, which will show something, this is a completely different money.
We were lucky to become participants in Gazprom Neft’s R & D and test the development together with real industry experts: it is important for Russian startups to find common ground with large industrial companies and learn from each other’s experience. In the future, the Varwin platform will allow you to create many VR-trainings in various areas: industrial safety, oil production, and so on.
Anton Beshodarny, Gazprom Neft Technology Strategy Program Manager:
“Virtual reality is in the list of priority digital technologies for us. Using VR, we can significantly improve the efficiency of training processes for production personnel. It is important to be able to scale the VR learning system at different production sites of the company. For this, the company implements both pilot projects for the development of simulators in VR, and projects for creating corporate tools for managing VR content. ”
Material prepared exclusively for VRcue by iVariant.