Flight simulators are one of the oldest and most familiar forms of virtual reality (VR) to most people, having been around in various forms for decades. Simulation firm Bohemia Interactive Simulations, or BISim, have been selected by the U.S. Navy to develop new air crew technology that incorporates VR and augmented reality (AR).
The software firm will be working on both AR head-mounted displays and VR ‘part-task trainers’, which are also referred to VR-PTTs. The purpose of the new equipment is to provide more streamlined and cost-effective pilot training.
The systems will be designed towards training pilots to fly the fleet of McDonnell Douglas T-45 trainer aircraft. Part of this process will involve using the Part-Task trainers, which allows students to focus on specific tasks or skills.
One of the things that BISim is working on is software to ‘trick’ the user into believing they have completed a physical action while engaged with an AR simulation. John Burwell, vice president of business development commented: “When you reach out in the proper way and your fingers get to the proper positions to where they should be to touch these virtual surfaces, we make them change color and we play an audible click,” he said. “It kind of fools your head into thinking you’re touching something when you’re not.”
Aiding n the development of the VR-PTTs is SASimulation’s FLEX-air, which is providing data about aerodynamic properties which will affect how the simulated aircraft will move. BISim expects that the VR-PTTs will be ready in four to six months, with the AR head-mounted displays completed by Q1 of 2019.
Various branches of the military have been using flight simulators for over 40 years. They have become more realistic over time, but also more expensive. BISim expects that if the technology is successful, it could cut training costs considerably.
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