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Virtual reality uses
in the Military

Robots May Fight Future Wars: British Expert

SHEFFIELD, England (Reuters) - Future wars could be fought by robots commanded by humans, a specialist in robotics told Britain's leading science conference Thursday.
Within five years, ``we could withdraw from war completely and let robots shoot it out,'' said John Pretlove, a lecturer at the University of Surrey. In addition to waging war, a system of integrating virtual reality and the real world could be the key to creating robots that could carry out other hazardous tasks such as mine clearance, undersea exploration and work in radioactive environments, Pretlove said. ``The key to this work is that we are not trying to replace the man mentally but physically. We are trying to use the human for what humans do best,'' said Pretlove, who is also a specialist in robotics for electrical engineering group ABB.
The system of integrating the real and virtual worlds -- augmented reality -- was similar to that used in films such as ''Jurassic Park,'' Pretlove said. It could give humans a better picture of events and would allow them to control robots more effectively from a safe distance. Remote-control robots using traditional technology such as video cameras have already been developed. For example, a NASA robot called Dante transmitted messages from inside an Alaskan volcano in 1994.
Augmented reality was a step forward after largely unsuccessful efforts to create robots that were intelligent, Pretlove said at the annual British Association Festival of Science. ``In this approach (augmented reality) one doesn't try to replace the human mind with a computer but rather to have the computer and the operator cooperate to achieve what neither could alone,'' Pretlove said.
Computerized teams of robots from five universities played in a volleyball tournament at the science festival Monday, but Pretlove noted the robots tended to pick each other up rather than the ball -- a problem that would not occur if the robots were operated remotely by humans. ``Relations between man and machines will become much more peer to peer. We will come to rely on machines in a different way to how we do now,'' Pretlove said, but ``we will always be able to pull the plug.''


Air Force 2025

In December 1994, the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force (CSAF) tasked Air University to conduct a study to identify the concepts, capabilities,and technologies the United States will require to remain the dominant air and space force in the first quarter of the 21st century.
The study was called Air Force 2025. What follows are the unclassified final results of that study. They offer a rich glimpse into the future- suggesting the clear imperatives and the important risks and opportunities the United States Air Force might face at the start of the new century.
Here is an excerpt from the study…

Advanced Training Techniques
The technological advancements requiring development include distance learning, distributed education, and virtual simulation. Education will continue to evolve to the point that students learn through "experience" more than through conventional study. Formal training and advanced degrees will be obtained via distributed virtual-reality (VR) discs and/or via the next generation internet as a form of distance learning. Enhancing professional military education is an additional application area for distributed training and virtual-reality technologies. This capability for easily accessible and just in time learning is critical to the success of the redefined operational readiness.
The air and space forces of 2025 will conduct training via virtual-reality computers to rehearse movements to high threat locations. The idea behind VR is to deliver a sense of "being there" by giving at least the eye what it would have received if it were there and, more importantly, to have the image change instantly as "experiences" change their point of view. A readily deployable virtual-reality environment is the key developing technology for the training requirements demanded by JRAPIDS.
Training enhancements made possible through technological strides in VR will have broad applications, from combat-environment simulation to emergency room training; the limits appear bounded only by lack of imaginative application.


Army Testers Developing the Combat Synthetic Test and Training Assessment Range (STTAR)

Using the technology demonstrated in the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Synthetic Experiment, Army testers are developing the Synthetic Test and Training Assessment Range (STTAR) to intelligently employ modeling & simulation tools to support the warfighting team. The warfighter will benefit from the STTAR both directly during training and indirectly from a streamlined acquisition process which provides better equipment quicker. The Combat STTAR project, practicing rapid prototyping principles, applies the STTAR capabilities in a series of exercises supporting the testing and training communities.

The first exercise of Combat STTAR addressed the shortfall of realistic, real-time intelligence data being provided at the Combat Training Centers.

These visualization systems, established at NTC, White Sands Missile Range, and Fort Hood, provided the commanders and their staffs, the ability to conduct real-time after-action reviews. By having an after-action review, the commander could better assure effective operations were being conducted during the exercise.

Follow-on missions of Combat STTAR will go beyond improving intelligence capabilities at Combat Training Centers to further exercise functional areas such as fire support, aviation, air defense, and logistics. Future missions will bring in development and operational tests being conducted at DoD Test Ranges, giving the test community a realistic test environment. For example, a training exercise could provide a target-rich environment to stress the weapon systems and sensors undergoing development and operational testing.

In addition, by linking the test ranges with the training centers, the data collected from a system under development could be injected into a training exercise through virtual reality, to investigate early in the acquisition cycle the system's performance requirements and effectiveness without interfering with the on-going training. This advanced interoperability will give Army decision makers better insight for acquisition decisions, and system developers a better measure of true system effectiveness in an operational environment. This improved information during the development process will be more cost effective and assist the direction of the Army's limited budget while streamlining system acquisition. Final application of the STTAR will include joint testing and training assuring the Army's role and readiness as part of the warfighting team.


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