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A walk-through of a soon-to-be plant. (Computing).

Shell Oil Co. is using virtual reality software originally developed to help explore Mars to assist in the planning of the company's new industrial process plant in Geismar, La.

The Mars Map virtual reality software guided NASA scientists through the 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission by allowing scientists and operations personnel to control remote robotic spacecraft within a virtual environment. The 3-D imaging software was developed at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

"The Mars Pathfinder mission was the first test of this new class of photorealistic virtual reality systems," said Michael Sims of Ames, who managed the Mars Map development team. "Mars Map made a big difference in our understanding of Mars during Pathfinder, and made us realize that this technology could be an extremely powerful tool for the renderers of the world."

Reality Capture Technologies Inc. of San Jose, Calif., was granted a license for further development of the platform. Ted Blackmon, who helped develop the software at NASA, is the company's founder.

The software is being used on the Shell process plant now under construction. The software lets engineers simulate a plant and create operating procedures for it, and train engineers who will be working there. It provides access to construction sites and lets users manage, assess, control, and respond to changes in the plant's construction.

"It's almost like a video game where you hold a joystick and walk around, making sure that everything is working right, only in this case you walk around a not-yet-built Shell plant," Blackmon said.

The software will help Shell build the processing plant more quickly and then continue to maintain the plant, according to Blackmon.

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Title Annotation:Shell Oil Co. uses NASA software
Comment:A walk-through of a soon-to-be plant. (Computing).(Shell Oil Co. uses NASA software)
Author:Thilmany, Jean
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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