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VR and Unreal Engine 4 Gives Armed Forces a Fortnite-like Training Opportunity

The Ministry of Defence is set to test out a virtual reality (VR) platform to transform military personnel training into a more immersive, hyper-realistic and instinctive experience.

SimCentric, a software company, has received an award of £300,000 from the Defence and Security Accelerator (Dasa) for developing and trying out the simulator after triumphant trials on the Parachute Regiment and Armed Forces officers at the Catterick Infantry Training Centre. Additional tests with the Army, the Royal Marines, and the Royal Air Force are set to take place this year, as segments of the more expansive Armed Forces’ training initiative. This will assist and improve training experiences in real life.

The virtual reality simulator, christened as Saf-Tac, is powered by the Unreal Engine 4. It is the same engine utilised for the widely-popular Fortnite video game. Upwards of 30 personnel can use the simulator simultaneously. It employs the “intuitive gesture control” approach to emulate actions that take place in real-life battlefields. Based on a statement, the training scenarios are enlivened through life-like graphics and HD surround sound.

The simulation experience involves a more interesting alternative to just placing timely mouse clicks whilst seated at a desk. Soldiers are in for a more engaging and closer-to-life simulated training experience, whilst holding a virtual gun. They are also free to perform physical actions like crawling and crouching when required, in similar manners to real-life training exercises. Soldiers taking part in the virtual reality-based training exercise can practice at will, before making their way onto real fields. In effect, they become better prepared for operational deployments.

Tom Constable, Director of Innovation, SimCentric, and a former Army Air Corps Officer, expressed his pride in helping to train future armed force personnel. Constable revealed that he joined the Army in the year 2006 and went onto serve in Afghanistan. He expressed how his stint in the Army raised his passion for developing technology to mitigate the risks faced by the armed forces’ personnel. According to him, the technology can also enhance training quality, to help save more lives.

A set of trials will take place through the remainder of 2020 in association with the Army, Royal Air Force, and Royal Marines. They are focussed on three key areas, including Saf-Tac solution assessment, use-case-based collective training trials at the platoon level, and Saf-Tac immersive concept validation, and comparisons with present solutions.

Constable expressed excitement about the chance of collaborating with the MoD. He revealed that the Dasa contract enables the Armed Forces to perform assessment, trial, and validation of the immersive Saf-Tac platform, along with unrivalled access over three services. Professor Dame Angela McLean, chief scientific adviser at the Ministry of Defence, expressed MoD’s commitment to creating a thorough and inventive approach for armed forces to fight challenges, and give soldiers the ability to fight future threats.

Constable remarked that the new simulator is one of the ways in which training is being facilitated for later generations. The objective is being achieved by utilising technology from the world of gaming.

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