Consumer virtual reality (VR) technology may only be a few years old but various militaries have been using the technology for decades as a means of training. This week, Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim), a developer of military simulation and training software announced that the British Army has awarded the company a £1 million GBP contract to conduct a pilot programme aimed at showcasing VR’s training potential.
Awarded through the £800m Defence Innovation Fund, the contract is part of the VR In-Land Training (VRLT) Pilot Programme, a British Army Collective Training Transformation Programme (CTTP) initiative which wants to examine how VR can be used for land warfare training alongside other simulations.
BISim will showcase VR’s potential through a series of events using its in-house Virtual Battlespace 3 (VCS3) software, VBS Blue IG, the company’s whole-earth image generation software, and VBS STE, a prototype whole-earth desktop trainer.
“With BISim‘s strengths in virtual simulation, image generation, and VR, its knowledge of the British Army and defence domain, and its key role in the U.S. Army’s STE (Synthetic Training Environment) programme, we are very well placed to work with the British Army to deliver VRLT and ensure that, should the technology show promise, it can be introduced coherently with other training and simulation systems,” said Rusty Orwin, BISim’s UK Head of Sales in a statement. “We’re also pleased to work together with Cervus, a company that has considerable experience in data analysis and training event design and assessment through their national and international work, including the Army and Niteworks.”
The pilot will test specific VR applications including:
- High Resolution VR Headsets to improve environmental immersion.
- Mixed Reality which will allow soldiers to see and interact with physical objects.
- Avatar customisation replicating realistic facial features and body shapes allowing users to recognise their fellow soldiers.
- After-Action Review Enhancement which provides data capture and analysis so that soldiers can better understand their own performance.
“The Army has a reputation for world class training which prepares our people for demanding and complex operations. Our training continually develops and so we constantly look for the best technology to make it as effective as possible,” said Army Head of Training Capability, Brigadier Bobby Walton-Knight CBE. “Innovations such as Virtual Reality offer immersive and flexible training, and this pilot is pushing the boundaries to explore how we might make best use of it.”
It’s not just the British and US military employing VR, last year VRFocus reported on China developing its own system called Intelligent Commando VR Training System. As further military use cases for VR are revealed, VRFocus will keep you updated.
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Author: Peter Graham