Virtual reality systems have been developed over the last few years to provide real time, immersive, three dimensional rendering. There have been efforts to utilize virtual reality and other similar approaches for design (Jones, 1996); however, limited information has been placed in the open literature describing the development of systems used specifically for the design of complex products, like naval vessels. As added motivation, features have been widely accepted as a useful paradigm for design purposes, but experience with feature based design in a virtual reality environment has also been limited. With these issues in mind, this paper was written to describe an ongoing research project that focuses on the demonstration of feature based design in a virtual reality environment for submarine design. To support this development, progress to date using the GROTTO, a CAVE like system, at the Naval Research Laboratory is reported. A “spin-off” of the research to web based collaboration is reported, an outline of projected system architecture is provided, and conclusions are drawn regarding the development of the virtual system.

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