Telechiric, semi-autonomous and autonomous heavy plant is finding an increasing role in applications such as construction, sub-sea work and decommissioning. There is a need for improved operator interfaces for such plant, and hence for rapid-prototyping tools which link the development of the operator interface with control and operational strategies and with machine geometries. The paper sets out a strategy by which different operator interfaces can be readily evaluated while at the same time generating the requisite information structure for the control of real items of plant. The proposed system is based on the use of interconnected PCs, one to simulate the operator interface and another to provide a kinematic representation of the machine using an appropriate “desk-top reality” environment. This system offers a safe, practical, rapid and cost-effective means of assessing proposed operator interfaces, as well as facilitating the development of machine kinematic structures and the associated operational and control strategies.