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Bohemia Interactive Simulations has been awarded a £1 million contract through the UK’s Defence Innovation Fund to create a pilot Virtual Reality in Land Training (VRLT) programme. The objective is to explore how future army training can be enhanced by exploiting the benefits of VR.

According to a Ministry of Defence (MoD) statement on 4 February, the pilot will test specific VR applications, including:

• High-resolution VR headsets to improve environmental immersion;

• Mixed Reality (MR), which will allow soldiers to see and interact with physical objects;

• Avatar customisation, replicating realistic facial features and body shapes, allowing users to recognise their fellow soldiers;

• After-Action Review (AAR) enhancement, which provides data capture and analysis so that soldiers can better understand their own performance.

VRLT will allow soldiers to train in a wide range of complex and hostile simulated scenarios that are difficult to recreate on a training ground. The system will be able to place troops in the middle of an urban firefight, an intense crowd control situation or within a building filled with enemy soldiers.

Virtual reality allows training situations to be quickly set up, re-run and analysed, to demonstrate the most effective approaches to real-life challenges on the battlefield. The pilot will explore the potential benefits and effectiveness of virtual reality for the British Army. At the end of the programme, recommendations will be put forward on how to best exploit this new technology for soldier training.

“The Army has a reputation for world-class training, which prepares our people for demanding and complex operations. Our training continually develops and so we constantly look for the best technology to make it as effective as possible. Innovations such as Virtual Reality offer immersive and flexible training, and this pilot is pushing the boundaries to explore how we might make best use of it,” commented Army Head of Training Capability, Brigadier Bobby Walton-Knight, CBE.

The British armed forces already use a range of simulation solutions to hone personnel skills. In late 2018, RAF Odiham unveiled its £53 million CHINOOK simulation facility, which replicates real-life operations. The Royal Navy also benefits from bridge simulators, which create an immersive experience that allows officers to take charge of a vessel in a range of weather and emergency conditions.

Virtual Reality in Land Training Pilot

A screenshot from the VRLT pilot synthetic environment. (Image: Bohemia Interactive)

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