The augmented reality framework : an approach to the rapid creation of mixed reality environments and testing scenarios
Davis, Benjamin Charles
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Debugging errors during real-world testing of remote platforms can be time consuming and expensive when the remote environment is inaccessible and hazardous such as deep-sea. Pre-real world testing facilities, such as Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL), are often not available due to the time and expense necessary to create them. Testing facilities tend to be monolithic in structure and thus inflexible making complete redesign necessary for slightly different uses. Redesign is simpler in the short term than creating the required architecture for a generic facility. This leads to expensive facilities, due to reinvention of the wheel, or worse, no testing facilities. Without adequate pre-real world testing, integration errors can go undetected until real world testing where they are more costly to diagnose and rectify, e.g. especially when developing Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs). This thesis introduces a novel framework, the Augmented Reality Framework (ARF), for rapid construction of virtual environments for Augmented Reality tasks such as Pure Simulation, HIL, Hybrid Simulation and real world testing. ARF’s architecture is based on JavaBeans and is therefore inherently generic, flexible and extendable. The aim is to increase the performance of constructing, reconfiguring and extending virtual environments, and consequently enable more mature and stable systems to be developed in less time due to previously undetectable faults being diagnosed earlier in the pre-real-world testing phase. This is only achievable if test harnesses can be created quickly and easily, which in turn allows the developer to visualise more system feedback making faults easier to spot. Early fault detection and less wasted real world testing leads to a more mature, stable and less expensive system. ARF provides guidance on how to connect and configure user made components, allowing for rapid prototyping and complex virtual environments to be created quickly and easily. In essence, ARF tries to provide intuitive construction guidance which is similar in nature to LEGOR pieces which can be so easily connected to form useful configurations. ARF is demonstrated through case studies which show the flexibility and applicability of ARF to testing techniques such as HIL for UUVs. In addition, an informal study was carried out to asses the performance increases attributable to ARF’s core concepts. In comparison to classical programming methods ARF’s average performance increase was close to 200%. The study showed that ARF was incredibly intuitive since the test subjects were novices in ARF but experts in programming. ARF provides key contributions in the field of HIL testing of remote systems by providing more accessible facilities that allow new or modified testing scenarios to be created where it might not have been feasible to do so before. In turn this leads to early detection of faults which in some cases would not have ever been detected before.