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Lost on the Queen Elizabeth? There's an app for that

IT is one of the most labyrinthine workplace environments in the world, and it is expected that people will get lost.

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Even defence ministry officials has called the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier, the 183ft tall HMS Queen Elizabeth - which is now structurally complete -"the most complex warship ever built in the UK".

But now engineers have come up with a solution to help construction workers get around more easily, in the form of a mobile phone app.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and a second carrier, the Prince of Wales, being built on the Clyde, has been one of the biggest defence projects ever undertaken in the UK and will be the Royal Navy's largest ever warships upon completion.

Each of the carriers has more than 3000 compartments spread across 12 decks and even the most routine of journeys can take up to 20 minutes. New visitors to the ships while under construction always require a guide.

Creating the app was not straightforward, as conventional satellite navigation cannot penetrate the ships' grey metallic structure.

As a result, engineers have created Platform Navigation, making use of 3600 Quick Response Codes, which are fixed at all compartment entrances.

Using the app, employees can type in their destination and with the help of the machine-readable barcodes, it will display the best route.

BAE Systems Naval Ships, a member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance which is building the ships, says Platform Navigation is expected to become an invaluable part of engineers' toolkits on both carriers because it can find the fastest safest route through complex indoor environments.

A BAE spokesman said: "Although getting lost at work isn't an issue for most people, experts at BAE Systems working on the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers have created the system to assist them in navigating the unprecedented scale and complexity of the ships, increasing efficiency and safety on board.

"The system is primarily designed for new starters and infrequent visitors to the ship who would otherwise need a guide, but even an experienced employee would be challenged when a regular route is blocked or when they need to locate a less frequently visited compartment."

Mick Ord, managing director at BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: "These are the largest and most powerful warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy so we need to keep finding smarter, safer and more efficient ways of working.

"Platform Navigation is a truly innovative device as it provides greater visibility within complex environments, so that employees can concentrate on the task in hand, which for us means delivering the nation's flagships."

In July, the dock at Rosyth will be flooded to allow HMS Queen Elizabeth to float for the first time. Sea trials will then begin in 2017, with flight trials of Lightning II aircraft starting the following year.

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