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USAF and King Crow Studios to Facilitate VR Training for Student Pilots

The US Air Force (USAF) has released information regarding a new virtual reality (VR) trainer that can bring about considerable change in how B-52 Stratofortress pilots undergo combat training. According to the USAF, the new training system, named Virtual Reality Procedures Trainer (VRPT), can completely revolutionise how the Air Force bomber community carries out training. It was released during a July 7 milestone demonstration exhibiting its capabilities at StrikeWerx.

The VRPT is the creation of Major Mark Budgeon from the Air Force Global Strike Command, Major Justin Stephenson, the chief of innovations and chief pilot of the 11th Bomb Squadron, and Major Brandon Wolf of the 307th Operations Support Squadron. Major Budgeon talked about the concept of the new development. He said that since the country’s opponents are getting more advanced, there is a requirement for reinventing the full scope of training to ensure that the graduates learn better.

The USAF personnel partnered with VR training solutions provider King Crow Studios and the company behind the Hive Slayer VR game. Both sides worked towards the development of a more expansive VR-incorporated learning management system, complete with an embedded instructor for training and evaluating the students.

King Crow Studios have put in efforts to develop a 360-degree digital version of the B-52 aircraft’s cockpit. The student pilots can also practice exploring the ground procedures checklist fully, before taking off in a virtual reality setting.

US Air Force virtual reality training. Image source: usaf

VRPT is beneficial in many ways, as it helps to minimise any kind of human bias, enhance training accessibility for students and offers instant feedback to them. These ensure that the student-pilots do not pick up any unwanted habits as they are just getting into training.

Major Wolf explained that the existing student pilot training technology is limiting in terms of offering hands-on training to the student pilots. He elaborated further, stating that logistical barriers also restrict round-the-clock access to tools and instructors. VRPT can solve this issue as it uses a setup comprising a computer, and a virtual reality headset with a two-controller configuration. Student pilots can take advantage of six degrees of freedom (6DoF) during training. Using the system enables them to access and train in a B-52 virtual cockpit, from anywhere.

According to Major Wolf, the VR-based training system can be accessed by anyone at their home whenever they need to practice. He said that as students start becoming familiar with the new system, they will be less taken aback when they step into a B-52 simulator.

The training programme can also fetch student performance data, including timestamps exhibiting speed, and any error being made. The collected data can be utilised by instructors to instantly send feedback to the students. Major Wolf said that the VR system helps to detect errors that can be mistakenly skipped by humans. This enables instructors to develop processes for correcting errors. Major Budgeon remarked that the system is easy to use and convenient for training the students.

The King Crow Studios website has more information about the company’s VR offerings.

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