Virtual reality radar visualisations

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Ross Brown
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Simon Denman
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Selen Turkay
Lecturer in Computer Human Interaction
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Submariners face heavy cognitive loads when traversing through complex seabed environments. Unintuitive 2D sensor displays are used to manoeuvre the vessel under stress. These challenges are compounded when operating Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) due to a greater disconnect between the submariner and the vessel. However, with the emergence of UUVs, we argue that the use of an immersive interface will assist situational awareness.

This project aims to generate a visually-believable 3D seafloor that can be viewed within an immersive and collaborative environment.

This is expected to improve navigation and problem solving capabilities as a decision support system. Drawing on embodied cognition theory, we utilise the human ability to process a space being traversed using the physical body as the reference point.

In comparison to 2D desktop displays, virtual reality (VR) interfaces have been shown to aid understanding of spatial and temporal data, lowering the cognitive load on each user. A VR interface will, in addition, facilitate collaborative remote teamwork in the space, integrating valuable remote expertise in military and civilian scenarios that is difficult to organise due to logistical constraints.

We will extend existing methods that synthesise 2D images to generate a 360 degree 3D surface, capturing a plausible rendering of the scene with the surface updating as new sensor information is acquired.

Research activities

As part of the research project, you will be involved in:

  • training the Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) to turn radar test data (supplied) into terrain surfaces
  • visualising the terrain within a virtual reality environment for unmanned submarine control
  • analysing the user data generated by terrain traversal for piloting performance metrics.


Submarines are high stress environments that present unique decision making challenges. This project aims to assist commanders and educators of submariners by developing new approaches to reduce cognitive burdens during operational tasks.

These consist of two innovations:

  1. development of an immersive VR submarine command centre providing a realistic and easily usable environment for remote collaborative command
  2. wide scale simulation of behaviour and scenarios in a highly realistic, immersive VR environment in which submariners actions can be monitored and analysed to understand how decisions are reached.

Skills and experience

We will be looking for students with a strong computer science background. In particular:

  1. strong programming skills are required
  2. machine learning skills are a plus, but a good student can pick up these skills if required
  3. Unity and VR programming skills are beneficial, but not necessary.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.