Photo: Army Research Lab

Emerging Tech

Army explores synthetic squad-training environment

As the U.S. Army tries to speed training time and cut costs while keeping troops safe, the service has experimented with virtual, or what it calls synthetic, environments for readying soldiers for the field.

Besides helping individual soldiers improve their skills with specific weapons or systems, the Army has experimented with virtual squad training using collective realistic simulations so small units could improve their responses to various situations and repeat exercises more quickly than they could with live scenarios.  

The first fully immersive virtual simulation training system for soldiers was fielded at Fort Bragg in 2012, but it failed to address training requirements and was shut down in 2015.  

Now, the Training and Doctrine Command is looking for a readily available, commercial solution for squad-based readiness training that operates in virtual-, augmented- and mixed-reality environments. 

Hardware and software interfaces for the Squad immersive Virtual Trainer must be able to observe, assess and react to situations that are based on realistic operational environments, allowing soldiers to use their assigned weapons and equipment. Software also must be engine agnostic so it can work with future environments and training devices.

The SiVT must be able to provide realistic training for shooting, movement, communications, care of wounded and defensive capabilities in a variety of realistic terrains.  It should not be complex to operate or maintain, and it must be capable of tracking each soldier’s progress so leaders can conduct after-action reviews and design training scenarios to help improve performance.

The system also must fit into classrooms, be modular and capable of training 1-15 soldiers with the potential to link multiple squad systems.

The Army intends to use Other Transactional Authorities and DevOps methodology to enable rapid creation of SiVT prototypes, real-time user feedback, and rapid and frequent delivery of capabilities to the warfighter. A technical demonstration of prototypes is expected no later than August of 2018.

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