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Latest virtual reality training offering tested by the British Army

The British Army has recently offered a contract of £1m to a software development firm for research regarding the implementation of VR for training soldiers.

Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BiSim), a worldwide developer of military training and simulation software offerings, has developed The Virtual Reality in Land Training (VRLT) pilot for British military training.

The Defence Innovation Fund, a body responsible for assisting in the development of technological innovations for military applications, contributed £800m of the contract fund. The latest VRLT pilot falls under the Defence Innovation Initiative and is among one of the Army’s successful bids from the Defence Innovation Fund.

Screenshot of the simulated environment in the VR training. BiSim copyright.

The VRLT pilot will be used for a range of highly-specific VR applications, including the implementation of mixed reality for helping soldiers observe and interact with physical elements and the testing of high-res virtual headsets for enhancing environment-based immersion. The testing will also encompass the customisation of avatars for realistic physical feature replication, to aid soldiers in recognising their peers. Another aspect of the testing will involve After-Action Review Enhancement to facilitate data capturing and analysis for self-gauging of soldier performance.

Gavin Williamson, Defence Secretary, remarked regarding the testing initiative. According to him, the British Armed Forces are known for welcoming technological developments and leading-edge technical innovation. He stated that the Armed Forces were looking forward to utilising the £800m funding from the Defence Innovation Fund for virtual reality implementation.

Screenshot of the simulated environment in the VR training. BiSim copyright.

Brigadier Bobby Walton-Knight CBE, the Army Head of Training Capability, explained that the British Army is known for pushing innovative barriers to train staff for sophisticated and intensive operations. He elaborated, stating that training procedures of the Army are always evolving, with considerable technological improvements.

Virtual reality can be utilised to provide dynamic and immersive training for soldiers, and that the new VRLT pilot is a promising prospect for even further innovations. – Bobby Walton-knight

The VRLT programme enables the training of soldiers in a vast variety of challenging as well as dangerous simulated scenes, which are quite difficult to create on the Army training grounds. Using this state-of-the-art system, users can add troops to chaotic crowded, urban warfare and enemy-infested scenarios.

Virtual reality enables the fast set up of intense and realistic training scenarios, which can be re-run and dissected to formulate advanced methods for facing real battlefield challenges with greater confidence. The VRLT pilot will look into the possible advantages and impact of VR on the British Army. As the programme concludes, suggestions and inputs will be exhibited regarding how to make the best of this technology for training soldiers.

This VR development is not the first case of the UK Armed Forces using immersive technology for training purposes. The Army also uses simulation-based technology for facilitating the training of its professionals. During the tail end of last year, the £53m Chinook simulators were launched by RAF Odiham for simulating realistic battle scenarios. The Royal Navy is also gearing up to take advantage of its Bridge Simulators, for generating realistic immersive encounters for its officers.

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