Operators' Accessibility Studies using Virtual Reality

  • Louison Céphise R
  • Ferlay Fabien R
  • Keller Delphine R
  • Mestre Daniel R

  • Virtual Reality
  • WEST project
  • Accessibility study
  • Avatar
  • Vibrotactile


The development of fusion plants is more and more challenging. Compared to previous fusion experimental devices, integration constraints, maintenance and safety requirements are key parameters in the ITER project. Components are designed in parallel and we must consider integration, assembly and maintenance issues, which might have a huge impact on the overall design. That also implies to consider the operator's feedback to assess the feasibility of accessibility or maintenance processes. Virtual reality (VR) provides tools to optimize such integration. In 2010, the CEA IRFM decided to upgrade its design tools, by using VR during the life cycle (from design to operation) of a fusion component. The VR platform is intensively used in the design and assembly studies of WEST components. In particular, feasibility of the assembly scenario is assessed by the operators involving in the real assembly work. To study this aspect, the use of static manikins is quite frequent in the industry. However, more complex studies, like the feasibility of assembly and maintenance tasks in complex and very confined environments, require enhanced features such as dynamic and biomechanically realistic virtual humans. We also study the contribution of tactile feedback to improve physical presence and interaction in the virtual environment (VE), which is very important for the validation of a given task's feasibility and the ergonomic evaluation of the posture and gesture of the operator. In particular, we show that adapted behavior in respect to physical elements of the VE can be obtained using a dynamic co-localized representation of the subject's body and a pseudo-haptic tactile feedback. In this paper, we present integration studies involving operators and recent advances in the assessment of maintenance feasibility.