Albuquerque, N.M. — MUSE Virtual Presence, a subsidiary of MUSE Technologies, has won a major defense competition to deliver new close-range gunnery simulators to the Naval Recruitment and Training Agency (NRTA) for the Royal Navy. The simulators, based on mature Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, will “immerse” trainee operators within synthetic ship-based environments where they will be trained in the procedures for engaging a wide range of dynamic air, sea and coastal targets.
Images of the weaponry involved in the project can be viewed at: http://www.musetech.com/html/press/gunnery.html
The contract fulfills part of a program to reorganize the Royal Navy’s training infrastructure. One element of the program involves the transfer of existing 20mm, 30mm and 4.5-inch gunnery facilities at the coastal base of HMS Cambridge near Plymouth to HMS Collingwood near Portsmouth where they will be ready for courses to commence in April 2001.
MUSE Virtual Presence will work closely with NRTA specialists and Royal Navy users to ensure the close integration of a networked VR system with actual 20mm and 30mm guns. As a result, the simulator will deliver realistic visual images and sound effects while preserving the “touch and feel” of the hardware for the weapon operators and tracking the movement capabilities of the gun barrels and mountings.
The MUSE VP solution equips weapon aimers, weapon directors and course instructors with a careful blend of head-mounted and screen-based displays, together with virtual binoculars and tracking sensors, to create and interact with a range of target engagement scenarios as if operating from a ship-based environment. Sea state and own-ship pitch and roll will also be featured.
“The Royal Navy’s invitation to tender presented a challenge to competing bid teams to propose an innovative and cost-effective solution to integrate established simulation technologies with existing gunnery hardware,” said Prof. Bob Stone, Scientific Director and Human Factors Consultant for MUSE Virtual Presence. “We took up this challenge by proposing an immersive VR system that would avoid the optical and resolution shortcomings inherent in a typical image projection-based simulator when trying to display virtual targets at simulated ranges of 6000 yards or greater.
“We plan to provide the trainees with a range of realistic targets and special effects, from simple sailboats, naval vessels, remotely piloted vehicles and aircraft to sea-skimming missiles,” Stone continued. “Engagement routines and target behaviors have to be realistic and will take place in a variety of environments, from low-light conditions to full precipitation or mist, and from calm to high sea states.”
Following the successful completion of MUSE VP’s avionics training simulator to support avionics training for the Royal Air Force’s Tornado aircraft, the gunnery system will consist totally of off-the-shelf computer and VR equipment and will reflect an open hardware/software standards design philosophy. The system will operate as a network of Windows NT workstations, each providing real-time graphics and multi-processing capabilities. The training program will be based on a consistent virtual environment shared between workstations, but hosted and controlled by the main instructor consoles in a standard client-server mode.
In addition to the 20mm and 30mm guns, the contract calls for a distinctly separate simulator, based on the Royal Navy’s 4.5-inch Mk8 gun. The equipment will be designed to simulate naval gunfire support by training personnel in the detection of shell impact (known as “splash spotting”), thereby promoting the timely relay of targeting information to the gun’s fire control systems. Identical sea and coastal scenarios are to be used as for the 20/30mm guns.
MUSE Virtual Presence Limited provides interactive 3D computer-based business solutions to European defense, medical and manufacturing industries and is an established supplier of training, evaluation, diagnostic and simulation hardware and software to hospitals and medical research groups in the UK and other countries. For more information on MUSE Technologies, visit the company’s Web site at http://www.musevp.com .