An Interactive, Virtual Wind Tunnel using Virtual Reality and Unreal Engine 4



This article presents an integrated, interactive modelling and simulation tool for aerodynamic design and analysis. The development and coupling of a GPU-accelerated Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) library, a 3D scanning library and a virtual-reality-powered video game are presented and the resulting virtual wind tunnel described. Users of the tunnel may interact with both geometry and solver from within the virtual environment providing a truly unique tool for performing high-level aerodynamic analysis around imported and scanned objects. Here we introduce the relevant technologies and approaches used to build the components and discuss the technical challenges of integrating them. The flow solver is validated against experimental data for a representative turbulent flow and demonstrates excellent agreement with available data. We also present the peak performance of the solver on current hardware. Limitations and potential expansions for this proof of concept are discussed as well as applications in a range of other scientific fields.
Date made available22 Jun 2021
PublisherUniversity of Manchester Figshare


  • Virtual Engineering (VE)
  • CFD solver
  • Game Engine
  • Virtual Reality, Embodiment, Agency, Reach, Distortion
  • Software engineering
  • Engineering design methods
  • Automotive Engineering not elsewhere classified
  • Aerospace Engineering not elsewhere classified
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Engineering Design Knowledge

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