VR-based Gunship Crew Trainer
Vertex Solutions and U.S. Air Force
Vertex Solutions, using Virtual Battlespace (VBS) technology from Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim), has developed a high-fidelity, mission qualification trainer for crew of the AC-130U that uses the latest in commercial Virtual Reality technology.
This is a revolutionary approach to training that leverages the affordability and portability of the latest commercial Virtual Reality hardware.
The AC-130U “Spooky” gunship’s chief roles for the Air Force include close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. With 40mm, 105mm cannons and 25mm Gatling gun and thousands of rounds, a “Spooky” flying overhead means a very bad day for enemy forces below.
The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) needed an immersive training capability for the AC-130U to offload checklist training from expensive full-mission simulators. Vertex Solutions leveraged the latest commercial-off-the-shelf VR hardware and video game-based virtual environment technology from BISim to provide trainees with a high-fidelity, cost-efficient solution for cockpit familiarization and checklist training. The system includes an intelligent tutor that provides automated instruction and real-time assessment. Designed for AC-130U platform, the system is flexible and can be adapted for other air-frames.
The system displays a highly detailed 3D virtual crewstation and enables trainees to practice checklists using natural hand movements as they would in the real world. Tracking hand movements and interactions with the virtual crewstation, the trainer shows representative results as would be seen in a real aircraft. The virtual crewstation includes pilot and copilot seats and all dials, gauges, displays, yokes, throttles, dashboard instruments, and controls around and above the seats. Since all controls are modeled properly in 3D, trainees can develop muscle memory as they would in a physical cockpit.
Vertex Solutions integrated an intelligent tutor to provide automated instruction, track real-time performance, and measure progress — eliminating the need and cost of an instructor. The architecture is extendable to support future training uses, such as exterior aircraft pre-flight, loadmaster roles, and other crew positions, all with the same hardware and software components.
Based on a similar concept developed for F/A-18 pilot training by BISim for the U.S. Navy, users will view the VBS-based, 3D whole-earth virtual environment with a Oculus Rift CV1 headset and Leap Motion will provide users with the ability to interact with the cockpit.
“The AC-130 mission qualifications trainer is designed to help increase readiness for pilots and crew,” said John Burwell, business development director for Bohemia Interactive Simulations. “This is a revolutionary approach to training that leverages the affordability and portability of the latest commercial Virtual Reality hardware.”