Back in the 1990s, the gaming world predicted that virtual reality would be mainstream by 1994. While that prediction may have been slightly premature, the last few years have truly brought a shift in the ubiquity of this new technology. Primarily associated with products in the market today, virtual reality (VR) has applications in major military projects and programs, including the Battle Management System (BMS) of the Dahlgren Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC). ).
“BMS is constantly trying to innovate and figure out what kinds of technologies they can bring into the mainline portfolio,” explained Mike Weisman, BMS’s Metrology and Augmented Reality/VR Project Manager. The rapid arrival of commercially available headsets in the recent mainstream market has created a broader pathway for maturation, stability, and predictability. “Typically when we use virtual reality, we look at it in three different types of applications: engineering, training, and tactical purposes.”
In the virtual reality engineering application, Weisman and his team travel to different locations, analyze the environments, and use the data to create a digital twin or virtual recreation of the area. The result is a shortened lead time between the original idea and the delivered product.
“Using virtual reality, people can put on a headset, walk through the design and see how it would actually fit into the space, creating an immersive 3D representation. It improves our designer’s speed and accuracy when creating things,” Weisman said.
As the team began integrating the program, the program sponsor saw a unique opportunity to implement the operator training program. Weisman and his team created and delivered the Virtual 30 Millimeter Pistol Trainer, which allows operators to rehearse on the system that was not as readily available in the past.
“Now an operator can affordably access it and have full individual scaling. They can walk around a full pallet. If they need to look under something, they have to their bodies learn that muscle memory of where everything is,” Weisman explained. “That repetition makes [the system] second nature to them as real material. By doing repetition, it takes root.
Emphasis is placed on the fact that the virtual trainer is not designed to replace training, but rather to help someone who needs more time on the system. The third application of the system is in the tactical domain. Instead of creating a 3D model from sand, the team created a virtual sand table that allows for easier post-mission analysis.
“The virtual sand table makes it very easy for someone to understand what happened in a digestible way,” Weisman said. To show how the system would work in operation, the team tied the virtual sand table to sea and air traffic over and across the Potomac River test range at Dahlgren, as well as the camera system of base. “We have aggregated data sources from different places to display visually, but we also have a framework on the backend where we can pull all that data and just display it together.”
The development aspect of BMS plays an important role when it comes to post-mission analysis. Since the data is timestamped, it can be merged with the corresponding time, allowing for flexibility and insight after a mission.
“BMS contains a lot of data, whether it’s from test events, patterns, or semantics,” said Brandon Gipson, Dahlgren’s division computer scientist who specializes in the application’s backend development. “Putting it in virtual reality extracts it in a way where it’s not just ones and zeros, but you can actually see a flight path of an airplane or a drone during an event of test.”
With access to BMS’s wide range of input data, the team is also able to view everything they have gathered information about during a scenario, including the status of sensors on the platform, measured wind direction, wind temperature and visual tracks.
During a recent visit to the NSWC Dahlgren Division, the Navy’s Assistant Undersecretary for Test and Evaluation for Research, Development, and Acquisition Rick Quade experienced first-hand the table tactical sand. Although mainly in development, applications for virtual reality in BMS are growing exponentially.
“The tactical app gives us a good workspace to try a lot of things and figure out what works or doesn’t work,” Weisman said.
|Date posted:||23.11.2022 08:39|
|Location:||DAHLGREN, Virginia, USA|
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