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British Army tests cutting edge virtual reality technology

A software developer has been given a £1million contract to explore how virtual reality can be integrated into the British soldier training.

British Army tests cutting edge virtual reality technology
Oshkosh Defense JLTV as appearing in the simulator (Picture source: British MoD)

The Virtual Reality in Land Training pilot has been created by Bohemia Interactive Simulations, a global developer of military and training software. The aim is to enable troops to experience a wide range of hostile simulated scenarios that aren’t easy to recreate on a training ground. Alongside high-resolution virtual reality headsets, mixed reality will allow soldiers to interact with objects and avatar customisation, which can replicate faces and body shapes so users can recognise fellow soldiers.

The contract was awarded through the £800million Defence Innovation Fund, which is aimed at helping develop cutting-edge ideas to benefit frontline services. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Our Armed Forces have always embraced innovation and continue to push the boundaries of technological advancement."

The system will be able to place troops in the middle of an urban firefight, intense crowd control situation or within a building filled with enemy soldiers.They will also have the chance to re-run, analyse and demonstrate the most effective approaches to real-life challenges.

Army Head of Training Capability, Brigadier Bobby Walton-Knight said: "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 the best use of it." At the end of the programme, recommendations will be put forward on how to best exploit the new technology for soldier training.

The Armed Forces already utilise simulation to hone the skills of their service personnel. Last year, RAF Odiham unveiled their £53million Chinook simulators - which replicate real-life operations. The Royal Navy also use Bridge Simulators which allow officers to take charge of a vessel in a range of weather and emergency conditions.


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