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This Virtual Reality Experience Lets You Ride A GE Locomotive Across Colorado Prairie

GE invited a team from Reel FX to turn the locomotive tests into a virtual reality experience.

How do you test a brand new locomotive? You take it to a custom track hooping over hundreds of high-altitude acres of a remote Colorado prairie, and push it hard to prove its mettle.

The tests typically include grueling series of tasks simulating high speed, heavy haul and other extreme conditions in one of America’s starkest and most beautiful landscapes.

GE engineers recently rode their newest Evolution Series locomotive that meets the EPA’s strict Tier 4 emission standards to the test track, which is located in Pueblo, Colo. But unless you are one of them, there’s no easy way for ordinary mortals to see what actually happens there.

Until now.

That’s because GE invited a team from the visual effects and animation company Reel FX to turn the tests into a virtual reality experience.

The team mounted a special rig using several GoPro cameras inside the engine’s cab and in a helicopter hovering above the locomotive while it’s in motion. They made two videos capturing 360-degree footage: one from the locomotive’s cab and the other from the chopper during the flyover.

Reel FX also visited Greenville, S.C., where GE is testing Harriet, the world’s largest and most efficient gas turbine, so powerful it could inflate the Good Year blimp in less than 10 seconds.

VR videos from that unique $185-million test rig and from Pueblo are available on Samsung’s Milk VR, Oculus Share, and YouTube 360 platforms.

But the partners aren’t finished. Next up is “a portal into the human brain” that will allow visitors to explore neural circuits of the musician and photographer Reuben Wu, and observe how music affects his brain. Stay tuned.