If you haven't been paying attention, virtual reality (VR) is now real (pun intended). No longer an overhyped curio of the commercial gaming world, VR—along with augmented reality and other immersive technologies collectively known as extended reality (XR)—is advancing across the military community.
The Army and the Marine Corps are investing in a new battlefield head-up display, called the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), that combines synthetic training environments with real-world data to boost the readiness and effectiveness of their infantry. The Navy and Air Force have been using similar XR technologies to train their fighter pilots.
Defense Department organizations already envision the boundless promise that XR advances holds for dramatically improved training, situational awareness, logistics support, combat readiness and even medical training and procedures.
The sheer breadth of increasingly common uses of XR are highlighted in a new report from my company, Accenture. It notes that industry spending on XR is set to overtake consumer demand during 2019 and will grow to triple the size of the consumer market by 2023. Remote brain surgery is just one seemingly futuristic application that is increasingly performed today. In March, Ling Zhipei performed China's first remote, 5G-supported surgery on the human brain, and it was on a patient more than 1,800 miles from his location.
XR tools are also gaining ground in mental health therapy, including treatment of trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, where virtual reality exposure therapy reportedly is reducing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in veterans and active-duty military personnel.
By superimposing virtual data over a view of the real world, military personnel can use XR technologies to navigate more easily across any terrain in the world; know the location of friendly troops or reported threats; train and rehearse for anticipated battle scenarios; and even overlay virtual enemies and obstacles as needed for better preparation. They can also train and practice for medical, maintenance or other specialized procedures. The training applications of XR are particularly compelling because these technologies can help prepare military personnel for experiences that otherwise would be too expensive or logistically challenging.
For example, just this summer, the Defence Threat Reduction Agency solicited information on how XR can help troops better prepare for scenarios involving radiological threats.
Moreover, as 5G networks roll out, with their speed, capacity and data response coupled with the processing capacity of cloud technologies, XR is set to become extraordinarily accessible. Because people can train anywhere, anytime, they can refresh their training more frequently, if needed, so their learned skills stick with them for improved readiness.
Finally, XR can deliver training far faster and at less cost than traditional training in many cases. By employing virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI) and biometric tracking, the Air Force has reduced pilot training from 12 months to four.
But while there are many opportunities for XR, there are also considerable risks and dangers. The data underlying XR is vulnerable to bias, misuse and cyber attacks. Both virtual and augmented reality can be manipulated for adverse purposes that could threaten our individual, mental and societal well-being.
Immersive technologies track some of our most intimate data: our feelings, judgments, reactions and broader sets of traits that make us who we are. Imagine what could happen when that information falls into the wrong hands.
Concern over fake news could turn to fake experiences. Consider a news source taking us to a controversial war zone through a virtual experience. How certain will we be that the experience has not been falsified or embellished to influence our opinion?
In applying today's XR Technologies toward military use cases, Defense Department leaders will need to articulate clear rules and protocols for ensuring ethical, responsible behaviour and uses, as they have already started to do with AI.
Also, defence organizations will need to extend risk assessments to look further into the future and to consider a broader range of direct and secondary impacts. Drawing on diverse experts, from neuroscientists to behavioural theorists, will help to create immersive systems and ways of operating that protect military personnel while mitigating technical risks.
With recent data-based innovations, we have had to scramble to get on top of the unintended consequences. If the Defence Department acts now, it has the time to seize the opportunities of XR and build in resilience that will be needed once XR becomes commonplace.
You may be aware that the military uses "war games" to train its soldiers, but what exactly is military training simulation software? Broadly speaking, military simulations can refer to a wide range of training methods. Militaries have used everything from mathematical models to comprehensive rehearsals of strategies and weapons in a non-combative environment to prepare service members. In particular, military training software is a frequently used type of military simulation, because it is often the best way to mimic real-life combat situations while keeping both injury risks and operational overhead low.
Military training simulation software can become even more beneficial by incorporating artificial intelligence. Keep reading to learn how our military can use AI in simulations to its advantage and how Entrust Solutions is developing innovative new software to leverage this opportunity.
The Role of Virtual Military Training Software
Until recently, realistic training settings were one demand that even virtual reality technology struggled to fulfill. While settings could be made to look naturalistic, it was difficult to make the virtual world actually mimic a real-life place rather than, for instance, generic Middle Eastern mountain ranges.
However, a new military training simulation software program can recreate real cities in virtual environments. Now, instead of only having broad knowledge of what forests in Asia might look like, soldiers will have already trained in these exact environments before they ever set foot in the real locations. Such highly specific knowledge will enable soldiers to move more quickly through the real environment, be more accurate with their logistical planning, and prepare themselves better ahead of time.
This virtual reality program is able to generate these Synthetic Training Environments (STEs) quickly and accurately with the help of AI. Locations halfway around the globe can be created within a matter of minutes by gathering information such as satellite imagery, street-view data, and even 3-D images taken by drones. The AI software can gather this data and use it to recreate the details of the landscape. What's more, this technology has the ability to update training environments with new data. Let's say that a particular city within the AI program expands in real life. The system can be easily updated with the help of AI to incorporate this new information. This allows soldiers to experience the terrain as it exists now, as opposed to several months or even years ago.
AI military training simulation software saves time and money
People often think that artificial intelligence has a high operational cost, simply because it is cutting-edge technology. However, AI actually tends to save organizations money in the long run, as has been the case for both UPS and IBM, among many others.
While start up costs of implementing AI technology are often higher at first, artificial intelligence is more efficient at certain tasks than humans are. AI, for instance, can synthesize large amounts of data and perform warehouse tasks faster than us.
When it comes to our armed forces, planning and executing full rehearsals of military exercises typically requires more financial resources than military training software. Even classroom training can be costlier, in terms of both time and money. Its higher expense comes from the need for a large number of physical assets in a single place at the same time. With cost evaluations, it's important to look not just at the sticker price, but also at the operational costs. In the case of our Air Force, training pilots on AI flight simulations actually helps them move onto their training within real aircrafts faster. These simulations offer pilots more intimate knowledge of combat flying than if they had only taken notes, enabling them to get the training they need swiftly and safely.
Artificial intelligence can best replicate the many variables of combat.
Modern warfare has become increasingly complex over the last few decades, and not just when it comes to high-tech traditional weaponry. Megacities and other complicated environments, as well as electronic warfare and cyberwarfare, create new challenges for our troops. As warfare has become more complicated, so too has the need for military training that is more multidimensional.
Hybrid threats, such as economic attacks and data harvesting, combine conventional warfare with cyberwarfare and other nontraditional strategies. Soldiers must be trained to fight in a wide variety of landscapes, using a range of equipment and strategies, in order to be prepared for hybrid warfare.
Additionally, military personnel need to understand the socio-political climate of the location where they're based. This knowledge can better prepare them to interact effectively with the local population, as well as strategize regarding their specific enemy in the region.
So how do these factors relate to artificial intelligence and military training simulation software? AI programs with the ability to create a multitude of intelligent, autonomous agents can better replicate future interactions with allies, enemies, and local civilians.
These agents can be used to create immersive, realistic simulations that span a variety of hybrid warfare tactics along numerous socio-political spectrums. Since AI gives the agents autonomy, they will not behave in predictable patterns that soldiers could potentially detect after multiple training sessions. Rather, each simulation will reset that particular agent's behaviour pattern.
AI technology is especially valuable for its ability to incorporate an element of unpredictability into military training simulation software. A crucial part of excelling in warfare is being able to think fast on one's feet, be that with a gun in hand or during a simple exchange with a local civilian. Having armed service members already trained in this skill prior to actually stepping into combat allows them to be more effective once they actually deploy. For more tech updates follow deeptechknowledge.com.