Populating the Virtual Worlds


Rapid re-construction of complex urban environments presents a challenge, already addressed by an automated, urban scene-generating process, performed by specialized systems developers such as TerraSim, Inc. The company demonstrated its TerraTools terrain generation and visualization software at I/ITSEC, highlighting new capabilities made available through their new Core 3.5 release.

Operating within the simulator’s synthetic environment are computer-generated Semi-Automatic forces (SAF), drawing their behavior characteristics and modes of operations from computerized libraries, such as SAIC’s OneSAF – a simulation development environment enabling users to develop training scenarios simulating combat; combat support; combat service support and C4ISR applications. Utilizing this tool kit, users can compose new entities, units, groups, behaviors and scenarios with little to no pre-programming. The system builds on SAIC’s Synthetic Environment Core (SE Core) – as a set of virtual components, common to multiple simulation systems, helping services to reduce redundancy, increase realism and interoperability, while lowering development costs, operation and support. Among the features provided by these components, are common services such as after-action reviews, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities; scenario generation; and exercise management tools. The system also integrates with the U.S. Army’s OneSAF environment, providing enhancements, such as ultra-high-resolution buildings.

Presagis AI.Implants artificial intelligence driven objects are populating the  virtual worlds simulating realistic urban environments. Image: Presagis

These virtual landscapes can be ‘populated’ with objects such as vehicles and warfighters, partly controlled by the trainees and others, controlled by computer generated forces. These models must also be maintained as realistic and as close as possible to ‘real world’ systems. Most recently, an example is the introduction of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, planned to replace many missions currently carried out by HMMWVs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mission simulators, such as urban warfare trainers, convoy trainers must be modified to include the new vehicle, its typical performance and associated operational procedures. While the vehicle manufacturers are constructing the new vehicles, simulators are being updated with new 3D vehicle libraries created by MetaVR. These models depict the primary MRAP vehicles that have been committed to production as 3D entities for simulating counter IED activities, or route-clearance operations by Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams. The new vehicles are represented with their distinctive V-shaped hull, assisting deflection of mine or IED blast away from the vehicle’s interior. With their appropriate markings, accurate geometry, and damage states, the new models can be used in counter-IED training scenarios.

Specializing in the development and presentation of adversary entities, SAIC’s RealTime Adversarial Intelligence and Decision Making (RAID) anticipates and represents enemy actions in tactical ground operations. The RAID program has developed key technologies and tools capable of producing in-execution running estimates and analysis of an enemy’s probable activity. A primary focus is on tactical urban operations against irregular combatants. RAID leverages novel, approximate game theoretic and deception-sensitive algorithms, to predict enemy actions, detect likely deceptions and provide tactical commanders with real-time enemy estimates. RAID also produces improvised explosive device (IED) threat regions and complex ambush estimates.

Further increasing realism are virtual ‘entities’, employing complex behavior characteristics. Designers can create more realistic and compelling simulations in urban settings. AI.implant is advancing the state of visual simulation. AI.implant from Presagis provides visual authoring tools for the creation of computer-controlled characters, including humans and vehicles, These Artificial Intelligence (AI) based characters are used to ‘populate’ virtual environments in video games, simulations, and training applications. AI.implant enables these simulated characters to create sophisticated context specific decisions, to move in realistic fashion within their environment. The system enables users to designate the rules for motion and decision-making logic of the characters. It also creates an ‘AI world’ used for the character’s perception and path planning. The system is available as a plug-ins for Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, as well as a stand alone application called the Artificial Intelligence Development Environment (AI.DE) for authoring and debugging for Windows, Linux, Xbox 360, and Playstation3 applications. These characters can represent civilians, friendly or hostile elements as well as complex and illusive ‘terrorist’ characters, which can assume ‘innocent’ or ‘hostile’ characteristics in complex asymmetric warfare scenarios.

Elbit Systems unveiled artificial-intelligence controlled 'smart-entities' representing terrorist  teams. Image: Elbit Systems
Characteristic of such new trends is Elbit Systems’ Smart Entities artificial intelligence-driven presentation of terrorist elements, unveiled at I/ITSEC 2007. These interactive, Terrorist Computer Generated Forces (TCGF) embedded into computer models implements decades of operational experience and research, conducted with Israel Ministry of Defense. “Smart Entities” incorporate a broad range of terror and urban warfare scenarios, providing Israel’s Defense Forces with a level of high fidelity training, presented as real as it gets. These models are based on Israel Defense Forces validated operational experience in counter-terror and insurgency warfare, as well as in-depth research, conducted with Israel’s Ministry of Defense on terrorist behavior, under low intensity conflict (LIC) and homeland security (HLS) scenarios. It is also an outcome of collaboration with professionals in cognitive Human Behavior Research & Modeling using unique AI technologies.

Interacting with such ‘smart entities’, warfighters can utilize immersive displays, applying the new ExpeditionDI Un-Tethered, Man-Wearable Immersive Training (MWIT) Platform currently available from Quantum3D. This battery-powered, wearable simulation suite is equipped with multiple positional trackers and is powered by Quantum3D Thermite man-wearable Tactical Visual Computer, providing high-fidelity real-time graphics to eMagin’s Z800 3Divison. ExpeditionDI allows researchers and training system providers to integrate solutions with a wide variety of software, synthetic environments and toolsets, in order to evaluate new training technologies and deploy training systems for dismounted infantry and first responders.

Fighting smart entities in an immersive virtual reality battlezone? Can it be more realistic than that? Strategic Operations, Inc. (St/Ops) is offering hyper-realistic training environments for military, law enforcement and other organizations responsible for homeland security, using state-of-the-art movie industry special effects, role players, techniques, training scenarios, facilities, mobile structures, sets, props, and equipment. St/Ops is part of Stu Segall Productions, a large independent TV/movie studio. Since most combat casualties are suffered by few, but highly critical errors, frequently caused already early in combat engagements, by less experienced personnel, new training systems are becoming imperative in preventing the notorious fratricide scourge, which haunts every combat commander. Strategic Operations, Inc. (St/Ops) is promoting its “hyper-realistic” training and rehearsing environment to practice combat before it actually happens. St/Ops realistically simulate the look, feel, smell, sounds, and effects of the battlefield in a high degree of fidelity in a training environment that participants willing suspend disbelief so as to emotionally (and physiologically measurably) become totally immersed and eventually stress inoculated.

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