The US Army is asking the defense industry to design and produce virtual reality (VR) technologies to support next-generation infantry simulations and mission rehearsals.
According to the request for information (RFI) posted on the System for Award Management website, these new enabling technologies could help Army infantry warfighters fulfill their missions more effectively.
The US Army explained that traditional mission rehearsals often require a physical range to mimic different mission areas, weather and lighting, and relevant terrain and temperatures.
With VR technologies, the service can avoid additional spending on constructing roads and buildings to simulate targets.
“Range safety, availability, and location can present additional challenges (for traditional mission rehearsals). Cost to transport troops, provision ranges, and collect data can also be significant,” the RFI states. “[Extended reality technologies] may mitigate many of the traditional challenges.”
It explained that synthetic or virtual environments that simulate a real-world location would be helpful for mission planning and training.
Interested companies must ensure that their VR technologies can represent various training and mission rehearsal elements, including combat environments, chemical and biological detectors, and reconnaissance.
The tech must also be capable of representing image and data fusion, deployment options, warfighters operating on foot or in vehicles, uncrewed vehicles, and other perspectives.
The US Army added that VR technologies for simulation and mission rehearsals must also be able to quickly generate custom environments and create objects like military vehicles, desks, chairs, and storage containers.
Further, the army is asking defense firms if they have other technologies that can enable participants from different physical locations to participate in extended reality training in real-time.
Potential contractors should provide additional details regarding the tech’s communications methods for classified and unclassified environments. They must also provide alternatives to prevent the need to transmit classified information.
Investments in Hi-Tech Facility, Equipment
Last year, the US Army launched a VR simulation facility for air defense soldier training.
The facility reportedly provides a “360-degree VR battlefield environment,” including ground vehicles and visual aircraft recognition.
Last month, the service’s 3rd Infantry Division also demonstrated the use of augmented reality for training, diagnosing, and troubleshooting military equipment.
The cutting-edge headset displayed a user’s manual and instructional videos, familiarizing operators with military vehicles to be maintained.
“Augmented reality allows you to actually see the real piece of equipment you’re working on and it overlays on top of an image to help you fix those things faster,” US Army Lt. Col. Michael Hefti said in a press release.