HP enlists creative and scientific community to help imagine life on Mars

An ambitious year-long programme, HP Mars Home Planet will use virtual reality to simulate what a human population of one million could look like on Mars

HP Mars Home Planet is, say HP, “a global project to unite engineers, architects, designers, artists, and students to design an urban area for 1 million people on Mars and bring it to life through VR.”

The project builds on work initially done for Mars 2030, a virtual reality experience created by Fusion with NASA which built 40 square km of terrain on the red planet’s Mars Valley area. Working with NVIDIA and partners  AutodeskFusionLaunch ForthTechnicolorUnreal Engine and VIVE HP Mars Home Planet is inviting participants to imagine, design and experience how we might live on Mars through VR.

The first stage of the project, which is live now and runs until March 2018, is the Mars Urbanization Challenge. Initially, participants are invited to submit ideas for “a product, vehicle, building, or ecosystem that will form the living and working ecosystem for 1 million humans”. In the subsequent Modeling phase, participants will be given access to Autodesk software to build 3D models of their buildings, cities, vehicles and infrastructure for Mars. In the third and final phase of the Urbanization Challenge, those ideas will be translated into still, animated or VR renders ready for the next stage – the Mars VR Experience. Various prizes will be awarded at each phase.

“Your mission is to imagine, design, and visualize the cities, homes, buildings, shelters, school buses, bicycles, cars, shopping malls, electrical, water, infrastructure, amusement parks, and ski resorts that will exist in Mars Valley to support the 1 million humans living there,” HP say. The first 10,000 participants to sign up will receive a download code for the Fusion Mars 2030 game.

For the Mars VR Experience, a steering committee will select models to be brought to life, with the creative and technical guidance of Technicolor, to create a virtual reality simulation of what life on Mars could be like, to be released in August 2018.

Why is HP doing all this?  In 2016, its HP ZBook Workstations were used on the International Space Station, so there is a natural link to build on there, but the bigger picture is around VR. On August 1, HP announced a portfolio of VR services and products aimed at positioning it as “the partner of choice for immersive customer experiences” for brands. HP Mars Home Planet is part of that strategy.

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