Building on the momentum established by a series of contract awards and partnership agreements during the year, Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) announced on 16 October that it will launch its next generation of desktop training and image generator (IG) simulation host software – VBS4 – at I/ITSEC in Orlando in December.
“We are further accelerating the capabilities of our product line by introducing VBS4,” commented CEO Arthur Alexion. “VBS4 brings whole-earth capabilities to desktop military simulation and training. Whilst VBS3 is PC-based and has size limitations for terrain areas, VBS4 offers a massive step change in modularity, openness and ease-of-use, as well as the performance and terrain enhancing capability of BISim’s new engine, VBS Blue. And, importantly, [this] is our first step towards a full cloud-enabled desktop training product.”
With the entire planet rendered in VBS4 using a curated global dataset, a massive library of vegetation and clutter models and advanced procedural enhancement, armed forces can dramatically reduce the cost and time of building new detailed virtual terrains. Terrains can be edited in VBS4 collaboratively for the first time with the new easy-to-use, WYSIWYG VBS Geo tool. Other key advantages of VBS4 are significant view distance improvements over VBS3 and further optimised virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) visualisation as well as tighter integration with VBS Blue IG and enhanced capabilities to act as a host for third-party IGs.
The new contract awards and partnership agreements achieved this year represent a combination of new customers and expansion of existing relationships. BISim also hired over 40 new staff globally over the past 12 months in software development, quality assurance and other key departments to meet continuing demand for its training solutions from military organisations and system integrators.
“The key to BISim’s momentum is expansion in our product range, together with top-class service — from our flagship products VBS3 and VBS Blue IG to state-of-the-art technologies in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), terrain data prep, terrain serving, software development kits and VR/AR/MR, we provide a complete platform for system integrators and military organisations to meet the latest training requirements,” Alexion added. Some of the successes include:
● Seven separate awards from the US Marine Corps and US Army for BISim licenses, maintenance and/or development services. Totaling $8.1 million and including improvements to VBS3, VBS Tactics and VWS (BISim’s newly developed terrain server), they follow funding received under the Army’s Synthetic Training Environment (STE) initiative, awarded in the first half of the year;
● Kongsberg Norway’s signed a framework agreement to jointly work on developing simulation solutions for the Kongsberg PROTECTOR family of Remote Weapons Stations (RWS) and Medium Calibre Turrets (MCT);
● The Dutch armed forces renewed and extended their enterprise licenses for VBS3 and other BISim products. They also acquired BISim’s new AI behaviors through the VBS Behavior Pack 1, allowing for expanded use of computer-generated AI forces in training, reducing the need for human players and enabling more civilian ‘pattern of life’ in simulation scenarios. BISim also created VBS Chalkboard Pro, an interface for drawing (military) overlays in VBS3, providing collaborative planning, overlay export and printing capabilities;
● The Australian Defence Force enterprise license support was renewed for another 12 months and new contracts awarded for content in VBS3;
● The winner of one of the largest Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training programmes in the world awarded BISim a subcontract to provide hundreds of VBS Blue IG licenses to eighteen major training sites for a variety of configurations -- from mobile systems to large dome displays;
● A large European nation is renewing its enterprise license of VBS3 and additionally acquiring thousands of licenses of VBS Blue IG.
VBS4 provides a robust virtual desktop training capability including all VBS3 features and new baseline capabilities. Developments within the product that are further fueling BISim’s growth include:
• VBS Plan - a time-saving mission planning capability allowing instructors and administrators to draw static plans on 2D and 3D maps using standard military symbols and leverage AI forces to execute those plans in the virtual environment;
• VBS Geo – an easy-to-use collaborative terrain editing application that does not require geospatial data expertise;
• VBS World Server - a terrain server streaming whole-earth terrain layers from the cloud or a local computer or network to VBS4, reducing hardware and terrain development costs.
By mid-2020, VBS4 will be feature-complete, with additional enhancements including animation and physics upgrade, backwards compatibility with VBS3 missions and terrains and a new workflow for easier creation and configuration of 3D models. VBS4 will also be easily customizable and extendable using BISim’s VBS Simulation SDK.
“BISim expects year-on-year growth in all of its product lines, desktop training, image generation, terrain generation,” Alexion said. “This will allow us to continue to self-invest alongside our customers in building best-of-breed products and supplying top-class service to all our military and industry customers around the world. We look forward to 2020 with great enthusiasm and are excited to continue to expand the product portfolio and our customer reach in the coming year.”