The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Portsmouth has been awarded a grant to use virtual reality to improve teaching and understanding of onshore and offshore natural hazards.
The three year Erasmus+ Key Action 2 project will be led by University of Portsmouth and bring together a number of industry partners and other universities around Europe.
According to University of Portsmouth course leader geological hazards Malcolm Whitworth the funding will result in a number of benefits for the engineering geology profession. “The use of virtual reality will aid site and route visualisation and will improve teaching of applied geology and natural hazards,” he said.
According to Erasmus, the project will focus on the use and integration of terrestrial remotely piloted airborne systems (drone) imagery and submarine remotely operated vehicle data for the combined study of geohazards in terrestrial and marine environments, through a programme of data sharing, scientific and technical collaboration and ultimately curriculum development at postgraduate level to help students develop advanced skills in these areas.
“The aim of the project is to develop a series of very high resolution 3D virtual reality models of geohazards observed in the onshore and offshore environment using data acquired from airborne drone and submersible platforms that can be used in classrooms to teach about onshore and offshore environments as a continuum,” said a spokesman for Erasmus. “To facilitate this, the project aims to develop a series of toolkits to allow students to navigate these environments using virtual reality headsets, map and measure features on the ground surface and seabed to simulate real field mapping activities; and then export features they have identified for further analysis in other software such as geographical information systems (GIS).”
The project will create a digital platform where terrestrial and seafloor data and virtual reality visualisation tools will be openly distributed to allow for the processing and visualisation of terrestrial and seafloor environment focused on natural hazards. The project will deliver teaching toolkits to partner the data, to develop firstly, observational and mapping skills (in the terrestrial and submarine environments) and secondly, a critical understanding of differences between geohazards in terrestrial and seafloor environments.