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Israeli Soldiers Train Using Virtual Reality

Virtual reality or VR is a fascinating technology that has much to offer. It, along with augmented reality or AR, is considered cutting edge technology today and forms extended reality or XR. From video games to medicine, virtual reality technology is reaching new heights every day. Recently, Israel adopted VR to train soldiers belonging to its Yahalom or Diamond special operation’s unit of the army.

Preparing for real-life threats

The unnamed soldier who underwent the training claims that as he moves through a virtual dark tunnel, he can see everything clearly, even the drops of water. With the headset on, the commando looks from side to side and probes objects, invisible to onlookers. He explains that the technology is so advanced that he almost feels as if he is present there, including the stifling nature of such tunnels and the ever-present humidity.

Israel government discovered several attack tunnels underneath the country, leading to the need for special training for soldiers to navigate the difficult terrain. The VR headset displays a reconstructed version of one of these tunnels that the army managed to uncover.

Being underground, navigating these tunnels is quite different when compared to operations over ground. Some of these spaces are around 180 feet deep. The current training is a way of preparing soldiers to discover and destroy these tunnels.

Why technology is important for defense

The commanding officer of the training centre believes that technology is an integral part of the fight. The soldiers who have not been inside one of these tunnels can understand what they look-like. They can also acknowledge the challenges of such a journey underground. The officer feels that the expenses, in this case, is justified and can make a great difference in the field. Since the programme’s inception 3 years ago, almost 100 soldiers have undergone VR training. Apart from navigating the tunnels, soldiers also learn how to avoid obstacles, such as holes, explosive devices or cables. Also, the simulated-environment teaches them the exact hand movements they need to defuse the explosives.

However, VR can only recreate the visual aspect of the tunnel environment. It cannot, for instance, simulate the temperature and humidity. The commander claims it is still better than nothing. With the training simulation, soldiers can familiarise themselves with the tunnels. The electronic training, he feels, has made him and other soldiers more ready to enter tunnels in real life. Besides its current application, the technology can be adapted to simulate any environment from real-life data. Therefore, future versions can train soldiers to navigate snow-laden areas or dense jungles. The possibilities of VR tech for the military are truly endless.

Besides virtual reality’s use in military training and operation, augmented reality may soon find favour in this field as well. AR, too, aids in providing a multi-sensory experience, with the addition of virtual elements in the real world. The armed forces of other countries, such as the US and Britain, already have VR training programmes. Integrating state-of-the-art technology into defence has become vital for maintaining supremacy and VR is no different.

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