Simulators Exaggerate Situations To Prepare for Real Life

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Christie Digital Systems USA Inc.’s Matrix StIM WQ
While simulation technology has advanced enough so that it is being used in all types of training, users want to know if simulators actually improve performance, an expert on artificial intelligence and human-robot interactions told Government Video.

The answer to that question can be found using long-term evaluations of simulation participants, sometimes for several years, said Dr. Randall Shumaker, executive director of the Institute for Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida. Founded in 1982, the IST isa research organization focused on advancing human-centered modeling and simulation technology, and increasing understanding of the role simulators can play in training and education.

To achieve those goals the IST develops its own training simulations and evaluates others, Shumaker said. It focuses on simulation that is “human-centric,” and to achieve that, IST creates human avatars that are convincing enough to be used within a training system, he said.

For example, the institute has been working on a classroom simulator using avatars that is currently going from prototype to commercialization, Shumaker said. The avatars display the types of behaviors that might occasionally be encountered in the real world, thereby providing participants with classroom management experience based on situations that might not be encountered in ordinary student teaching, “or even over years,” he said. There are “situations you don’t want to do in real life, but that you need to be ready for,” which is what simulation training is about, he added.

In addition, the IST evaluates simulations for the U.S. Army, focusing on whether soldiers develop the skills and knowledge promised from simulator training, Shumaker said. Some squads are exposed to the simulators before receiving conventional training, while other squads receive only conventional training, and their performance is compared, he said. “We find out if using this game [simulator] actually improves performance both short-term and long-term,” Schumaker said. Even if a simulator does not directly improve performance, it could speed the learning process, or produce the same results as conventional training but at less cost, he added. "You have to look at the individual cases."

Not only is each simulator its own individual case, so are a simulator’s components. Among those are:

CHRISTIE DIGITAL SYSTEMS

A primary component of a simulator is the projector, and among the latest is Christie Digital Systems USA Inc.’s Matrix StIM WQ, which has been selected for the U.S. Air National Guard’s Advanced Joint Terminal Attack Controller Training System Development Program.

At least 10 Matrix StIM WQ solid-state, LED-based projectors will power tan Immersive Display Solutions semi-portable simulator dome, that offers a field view of 240 by 90 degrees, as part of the JTACTS. In addition, Battlespace Simulations Inc. will supply Model Air Combat Environment software used for scenario/entity generation, and MetaVR will provide its Virtual Reality Scene Generator, Christie said.

The Christie Matrix StIM WQ is an integrated scalable environment projection system with the capability to display independent RGB and infrared channels through Christie’s InfraScene technology at WQXGA (2560 x 1600) resolution. The projector produces 800 ANSI lumens, has a ruggedized chassis, and features Christie proprietary technology such as ArrayLOC, which allows a uniform performance across a projection array.

There are “a class of problems that are very common to simulators with display systems that require scalability and multiple projectors,” said Dave Kanahele, Christie’s director of simulation. Christie addresses those problems with the AutoCal and the ArrayLOC systems, he said. The AutoCal enables users, once they set up an array of projectors, to press a button and align the system so the image blending is correct, while the ArrayLOC continually monitors the status of all the projectors in a system, he said.

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Cubic Defense Applications’ Joint Fires Integrated Training Environment

CUBIC DEFENSE APPLICATIONS

Cubic Defense Applications offers its Joint Fires Integrated Training Environment, a dome simulator providing a 360-degree training environment, said Robert Hoppenfeld, the company’s senior software engineer, simulation systems division.

The JFITE is a rigid truss system that does not require special tools to assemble, according to Cubic. It uses five projectors and has an automatic, camera-based calibration system. The dome “is image generator-agnostic,” any image generator can be plugged into the system, he said.

The dome provides an immersive training system requiring the trainee to be aware of the tactical situation that might be occurring from behind, Hoppenfeld said. “Imparting that situational awareness is part of the benefits of the JFITE.”

In addition to being surrounded, trainees are isolated in the dome. “Unlike other systems where an instructor babysits the trainees and can provide hints and signals about what is being done right and wrong, in the dome the trainees are isolated,” and must act on their own, he said. Eliminating prompts that a instructor may provide is important in order to run an untainted training, he said.

The scenarios the dome runs vary widely, Hoppenfeld said. They include tactical, driving, flight and marksmanship simulations. Some of those simulations can reduce training costs. An example of how the system can cut costs can be found with the flight simulations. In the flight simulations, pilots learn the basic skills thereby saving the costs of actually learning those skills in the air. When they do move onto the airplane they can be trained in more advanced flying techniques, he said.

Dynamic Animation Systems’ Virtual Interactive Combat Environment
DYNAMIC ANIMATIONS SYSTEMS

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Dynamic Animation Systems offers its Virtual Interactive Combat Environment system, a scalable, commercial off-the-shelf simulator designed to provide the skills needed by military, homeland security and law enforcement personnel in confronting and resolving potential an actual conflict within urban, suburban and rural environments, according to the company.

VICE provides realistic training in immersive virtual environments, in which untethered weapons are used as wireless controllers for training at the small unit level, from buddy team to platoon training, DAS said. For platoon training, VICE system can be networked and team communications devices used to enhance collective experiences focusing on warrior tasks and battle drills, the company said.

DAS conducts “the entire gamut of training, from basic rifle marksmanship, to advanced tactical marksmanship and primary/secondary weapons systems,” said Jesse Beaudin, DAS’ training manager. “We have 360-degree environments, 180-degree shootouts, we even bring our own vehicles in so the trainees can shoot out of, or jump off the vehicle and conduct MOUTs (military operations on urban terrain),” he said. “We do all of those wireless and untethered.”

In addition, DAS offers portable training environments that can be set up in a space as small as a classroom, Beaudin said.

Opticomm/EMCORE’s VX-1DVI
OPTICOMM/EMCORE

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Of course, for a simulator to be effective, images have to be sent to the projectors from a source, and Opticomm/EMCORE’s VX-1DVI optical extender is a single-fiber DVI extender that can send one channel of DVI video up to 6.2 miles.

“The image quality [the VX-1DVI provides] over distance is the main benefit of the product,” said Todd Kellison, Opticomm-EMCORE’s regional sales manager.

The extender is a low-profile unit that transports over standard multimode or singlemode fiber using LC-type optical connectors for a secure cable connection, according to Kellison.

With the VX-1DVI, graphic resolutions up to 1920 x1200 and video resolutions up to 1080p 60 Hz are possible over a single fiber. DVI video can be extended more than six miles without the need for distribution amplifiers, cable equalization or inline repeaters that are normally associated with copper cable extension. It makes it possible to control simulator displays from a long distance, so the instructor does not have to be exactly where the simulator is located while trainees are using the equipment, Kellison said.

RGB SPECTRUM

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RGB Spectrum’s Cyber Command and Control Simulation Center
While most of the simulations mentioned in this article have been focused on conducting individual tasks in the field, RGB Spectrum and its partner Rsignia offer a simulation of a command and control environment that can train decision makers on how to act during an emergency or mission situation.

The Cyber Command and Control Simulation Center’s demonstrator is at Rsignia’s headquarters in Columbia, Md. It simulates a real-world command and control environment providing a simulation room of a network operation center, military command and control center or tactical operations center, said Mitch Klein, RGB Spectrum’s mid-Atlantic regional manager.

The focus of the center is RGB Spectrum’s MediaWall 4200, which drives a wall—two screens high by three screens wide—of Samsung monitors that provide images 1366 x 768 each, Klein said.

In addition, the demonstration center features RGB Spectrum’s new MultiPoint Control Room Management System, a collaborative system designed to address, display and control shared computer and visual resources in a control-room environment, according to Klein. The management system determines which operators have access to data and provides a hierarchy among operators for controlling resources, according to Klein. The result is a control-room display system that makes available such systems as transfers of control, backups and overrides, all designed for emergency response.

“This simulation helps users understand these new technologies, and can help them manage and correlate information from different sources in a meaningful fashion for their operations,” he said.

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