Training and Simulation

Army builds an immersive simulator for armored vehicles – and builds it fast

Army TRICT MRAP simulator

Army software engineers have created an immersive simulator that lets soldiers train on heavy-duty armored vehicles for worst-case scenarios. And they did it in 18 months.

The Transportable, Reconfigurable, Integrated, Crew Trainer, or TRICT, lets soldiers train individually or as a crew on mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, creating a realistic environment that includes motion, imagery and full operation of the vehicle’s controls.

"We were able to develop this product in the amount of time that it would normally take to do the request for proposal," said Dr. Bill Craig, director of the Software Engineering Directorate at the Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center. "The development of the TRICT Simulator is an excellent example of a product that is centered on the needs of soldiers and was developed inexpensively and rapidly."

The simulator grew out of a visit to the center in the fall of 2012 by representatives of Special Operations Command, who watched a Humvee simulator and asked if one could be made for MRAPs, the Army said.

The result is the TRICT, which has a pitch-and-roll assembly that provides a full range of motions and allows for egress training after rollovers. The Unreal 3.0 gaming engine creates an immersive computer-generated environment that is projected onto LCD displays on all of the training vehicle’s doors and windows. And the vehicle controls—from steering and foot pedals to instrument panels and transmission control—are all operational.

"While inside the simulator, soldiers experience realistic motions and sounds, coupled with state-of-the-art graphics to ensure an immersive training environment," said Scott Johnston, lead systems engineer for the project. "In short, it is a very realistic trainer."

The research center, located at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., has three simulators at the moment, with plans to add more. In addition the RG-33 and MATV MRAPs, the simulators’ design can accommodate training on joint tactical wheeled vehicles such as the Humvee, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and RG31 MRAP, the Army said.

The Army acquired about 25,000 MRAPs during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a protection against roadside bombs. And with the presence in western Asia winding down, the Army has decided to sell or scrap many of them. But more than 8,000 of the vehicles will be retained and upgraded, to await a future conflict. Should that time come, soldiers will be better trained in using them.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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