Cultivating BioPod’s Design

3DEXPERIENCE's cloud platform and virtual twin capabilities are helping to accelerate the development of BioPod, a closed-loop sustainable environment for growing crops in extreme climates.

3DEXPERIENCE’s cloud platform and virtual twin capabilities are helping to accelerate the development of BioPod, a closed-loop sustainable environment for growing crops in extreme climates.

Interstellar’s “BioPod” is a environment-controlled pod for crop cultivation on earth and in space. Image Courtesy of Interstellar Labs


As billionaires set off into space and kickoff a race to Mars and other planetary travel, Interstellar Labs is building systems that allow for sustainable life on Earth and other planets, including one of the first modules in its vision—the BioPod aimed at transforming food production.

Combining advanced technology with predictive maintenance, the BioPod is designed to promote high-precision agriculture, reducing the amount of land and water required to produce food on earth by more 99%, according to officials. As envisioned, the BioPod is an integrated, closed-loop sustainable environment that starts with food production and continues through water and waste treatment systems; it will eventually be incorporated into Interstellar space-ready stations that can sustain human life on Earth or on other planets.

Central to the BioPod prototype effort is a collaboration with Dassault Systèmes through which Interstellar is using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to design and build the first prototype of its aeroponics greenhouse, which is able to grow over 300 different species of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and plants.

As a cloud-based platform, 3DEXPERIENCE allows Interstellar’s dispersed team to work on the BioPad project on a 24/7 development schedule, providing team members with anywhere, any time access to critical design and simulation data and helping to keep the project moving forward, officials say. The BioPod modules are designed using CATIA on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform along with SIMULIA to optimize installation, including exploration into whether the domes perform as expected in extreme conditions. “We need to simulate real-life accuracy—for example, testing the strength of the entire structure, including the flexible membrane, and maintaining the inside airflow to get the exact air pressure,” said Jim Rhoné, Interstellar’s chief product officer, in a write-up on the Dassault web site.

A virtual twin developed using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform will be essential for large-scale deployment of the BioPods, especially for planning operations and maintenance as well as to gather data about food production, officials said. When the time comes for manufacturing, the BioPod digital twin will evolve to integrate parts-specific data from suppliers, helping to ensure quality and set the stage for delivery of predictive maintenance services. Augmented reality and photorealistic rendering capabilities will also be essential for Interstellar to communicate BioPod progress as its vision becomes a reality.

“The 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables us to have the most efficient working processes and avoid reworking designs from scratch,” said Barbara Belvisi, founder and CEO of Instellar Labs in a press release. “As we progress to the next stage, the platform’s program and project management capabilities will be invaluable to us for storing and retrieving design knowledge and managing the product lifecycle effectively.”

The BioPod inflatable dome, which measures six meters wide (19.7 feet) by 10 meters long (32.8 feet) and 4.5 meters high (14.8 feet), uses composites for the solid technical base and soft-plastic membranes for the shells.

To learn more about Instellar’s vision and the BioPod prototype, check out this video.

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Beth Stackpole's avatar
Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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