Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171

Advanced VR Research Centre

Established in 1995, the AVRRC research involves transforming the development and application of advanced modelling, simulation and visualization techniques. The emergence of increasingly complex interconnected systems has significantly raised the importance the role humans play in the design, development and use of these systems. Our overriding goal is to fully understand highly complex system behaviour (involving people, processes and technology) in a way that allows us to predict and control system performance whilst managing undesirable emergent properties.  

Tackling these challenges has required a paradigm shift from traditional engineering approaches. Almost a decade ago we moved away from a single model/simulation environment to one where a model based engineering environment, involving a heterogeneous mix of closely coupled models and simulations is employed (often across global and institutional boundaries) to allow specific domain experts to collaborate (who are themselves often geographically dispersed) in order to deal with multi-disciplinary design problems. Our resulting, underpinning model based systems engineering research has led to us winning major research grants and involving international partners.  

Consequently, the AVRRC has built up an extensive, and sophisticated virtual engineering facility to support the development and use of virtual and immersive visual computing (AR and VR) environments, where real-world problems can be modelled and simulated to a very high degree of fidelity. In essence this is a powerful collaborative problem solving environment for tackling complex systems issues.

Footnote: We are surprised with recent claims in the popular press that VR is new and the next big thing. We (and a great deal of many others) have been working with a wide range of VR systems (displays, interface devices and computing platforms, human factors of VR and much much more) for over 30 years!

We are extremely proud to be selected as one of Airbus' Framework Research and Technology Universities

Take a look at our history section below.



AVRRC Vision

Transforming the development and application of advanced modelling, simulation and visualization techniques in order to:

  • Research next generation end - end digitailisation for Industry 4.0 and beyond
  • Advance decision making for next generation engineering and manufacturing
  • Further develop the field of virtual engineering
  • Develop highly intuitive immersive technologies to aid human understanding of complex heterogeniuos data
  • Fully understand highly complex system behaviour (involving people, processes and technology) to predict performance and control emergent properties in manufactured systems
  • Apply innovative systems thinking and human factors knowledge to provide effective solutions to extremely difficult and intractable system problems
  • Develop innovative solutions for model based engineering
  • Create highly reliable and verifiable models of systems and their sensors
  • Provide effective visualizations in order to improve understanding
  • Develop optimal solutions to extremely complicated and often regarded intractable problems through a process of advanced visual analytics
  • Enhancing the user's experience in distributed collaborative environments.

AVRRC Mission

To find solutions to very challenging research questions of national/international significance.

To seek out opportunities where our research can have a beneficial impact on societal development

To ensure the research pipeline delivers research high impact results.

To provide an exciting environment in which our staff, researchers, postgraduate students and undergraduate students get the best possible experience of undertaking relevant research.

AVRRC Values

We are committed to scholarship that delivers impact through research on real problems that will require a paradigm shift in thinking and application.

We are convinced that many of the world's intractable problems will require a multi-disciplinary approach to the understanding and application of fundamental principles in order to arrive at a sustainable solution.

We develop appropriate modelling, simulation and interactive visualization environments and their enabling tools to understand the ever increasingly complex world that we live in today.

Underpinning our exciting research is recognition of the importance of human interaction with future systems and so our research addresses human factors issues such interaction, performance and cognition. Human in the loop evaluations feature in almost all our research projects.

Also, we have  developed various prototype systems resulted from our research that have been deployed in various companies and organisation. These have involved wearable computers, handheld medical imaging systems, systems for use in aircraft cockpits, performance assessment tools for athletes and MBSE transformation tools for engineerng, etc.

Systems engineering approaches have played a huge part in formulating and framing our research activities. Our funding track record has impacted and benefitted the following aerospace/defence, automotive, construction, energy, healthcare, medical technologies, sport, transport and the utility sectors.

AVRRC History and Opening

VR Research/Development Lab - by Roy Kalawsky - this was built from various VPL Research VR peripherals, Silicon Graphics Workstations, Mac Computer, Convolvotron (3D Audio Spaitalizer), Data Glove, various VPL Head mounted Display (HRX shown), Audio mixers and lots of software including Swivel, Body Electric etc. This facility supported a wide range of research projects from fundamental human factors to technology demonstrators where VR was exploited.


During the 1990s the resolution of head mounted displays was extremeley poor. To get round this Kalawsky's team developed a unique see through head mounted display that used high resolution coherent fibre optic bundles to transfer high resolution images from large graphics screens to the head mounted display. A special optical combiner for each eye enabled the computer graphics image to be overlaid onto the real world in stereo mode. A Polhemus electro-magnetic tracker allowed head line of sight to be computed in order that a full colour high resolution image coiupled system to be built. This was used for many reseach investigations and even allowed simulation of future head mounted display systems for military applications. Graphics where provided by a suite of Silicon Graphics platforms.