Over the past year, BISim has developed a partnership with simulation innovators CM Labs Simulations to bring a high-physical-fidelity driver and vehicle crew training solution to defense and military customers. This plugin for VBS3 and future VBS versions, Vortex Studio for VBS, is a groundbreaking development in military training simulations that offers an enhanced simulated-vehicle training experience.
Recently, BISim spoke with CM Labs’ Chief Commercial Officer Arnold Free about this new tool, CM Labs’ simulation technology and how the two software suites enhance each other.
BISim: Describe what CM Labs does and how it fits into defense simulation?
Arnold: In the context of the defense market, we focus on real-time physics simulation and visualization of vehicles and mechanical equipment—Vortex® Studio is there anywhere there’s a mechanical component to be simulated. This includes heavy equipment, lifting, mining, robotics, anything that operates on the ground. We also do work in offshore and naval applications to do with lifting, anchor handling, towing and launch and recovery systems.
One of the primary purposes of our Vortex Studio products is for the development of simulation-based training applications, which is why it’s relevant to VBS. As well, Vortex Studio is also used in engineering applications, including virtual prototyping and across the product design workflow.
BISim: Why did you partner with BISim?
Arnold: The way I see it, BISim—and VBS—offers a great deal of breadth in terms of simulation-based training from the crew to the battalion level; strategy minded training. On the other hand, Vortex Studio-powered simulations offer depth in terms of crew training, particularly around transferable, tactical vehicle operation skills. We provide a high-fidelity application for simulating physical components of vehicles, whether it’s a tank, armored personnel carrier or uncrewed ground vehicle. That is one of the main areas where real-time, high-fidelity operations add value when you are training to be a driver or gunner.
Vortex Studio for VBS defines a straightforward workflow to build simulations for vehicles in Vortex Studio and transfer that model into a simulation or scenario that is made in VBS3, creating an extremely well-rounded training experience.
BISim: Where is Vortex Studio for VBS being used?
Arnold: Several of BISim’s resellers are already adding value by using Vortex Studio for VBS to develop new projects. For example, one is building a simulation to train military engineers on how to build temporary bridges. The client needed to simulate cranes and forklifts, and with Vortex Studio’s robust cable library, we’ve expedited their work and helped them get their project off the ground quicker. Similarly, at ITEC 2019, another partner demonstrated a project using Vortex Studio for VBS for distinct driver training solutions across several military vehicles.
BISim: Tell me about Vortex Studio and its use on Bluedrop Training & Simulation’s helicopter hoist simulator (which also uses VBS3).
Arnold: That was a project that took place before the Vortex Studio for VBS plugin was developed. It’s difficult for game engines to simulate large mass ratios like a thin line picking up something substantial. If the simulation isn’t accurate for lifting operations, you risk negative training and create safety issues.
In addition to simulating multi-dynamic vehicle systems like chassis and turrets, we simulate cables. Bluedrop used Vortex Studio to simulate the physics of cables, hoists and rigging from a helicopter to attach a load for rescue.
BISim: How do you validate the physics you use in Vortex Studio?
Arnold: Many times, simulation projects come down to the opinion of a subject matter expert. You could have ten different views on the behavior of a vehicle, and there are often behavior differences among the same model of vehicles within a fleet. If you are a system integrator delivering a project that can be risky, we help system integrators create a set of acceptance criteria for contract delivery and can help match those against data from the end-user client.
BISim: Any final takeaways for BISim customers?
Arnold: In the end, the marriage of Vortex Studio with VBS3 brings together two killer applications for equipment training in general. If you are building a driver simulator for tanks or wheeled vehicles, I can’t imagine a more effective solution.