UK Armed Forces to test new virtual reality training platform

The British Armed Forces is set to start testing a virtual reality (VR) training platform, which will feature gaming technology.

The UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) VR simulator platform has been built on the Fortnite gaming engine and will become part of a wider training programme for the armed forces.

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Intended to help reduce costs, the new simulator features HD surround sound, realistic visuals and intuitive gesture control.

It will be used to provide realistic, intuitive and immersive training for more than 30 personnel simultaneously.

In addition, the platform will allow personnel to train any number of times as required prior to their deployment.

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UK Ministry of Defence chief scientific advisor professor Dame Angela McLean said: “The MoD is committed to developing radical and innovative ways to combat the challenges our armed forces face today, and equip them for the threats of tomorrow.

“This new simulator is just one way we are bringing training into the next generation, using technology drawn from the world of gaming to support our troops in training.”

The UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) awarded £300,000 to software company SimCentric for the development of the system.

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Parachute Regiment and officers at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, have already completed initial trials with the simulator.

The British Army, British Royal Air Force and British Royal Marines will conduct additional trials with the new system later this year.

SimCentric Innovation director and former British Army Air Corps officer Tom Constable said: “As a veteran and current reservist, I’m proud to help train the armed forces of the future.

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“I joined the British Army in 2006 and later served in Afghanistan. This gave me a passion for building technology that will reduce the risk to our armed forces and improve the quality of training, with the ultimate aim of saving lives.”

The US Army’s medical personnel have commenced testing a potential vaccine against the coronavirus Covid-19, which has claimed 12 lives in the US.

A ‘whole of government’ approach is being taken by army researchers with other agencies in the US and overseas, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, industry, and academia, to identify, prevent and treat Covid-19.

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The collaborative effort seeks to ensure that there is no duplication. It is expected to take a year to 18 months to have a fully effective Covid-19 vaccine.

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research director of Emerging Infectious Diseases Kayvon Modjarrad said: “The first phase of testing has already started: testing potential vaccines in mice to see what their response is and making sure it’s safe.”

The second phase would focus on testing in larger animals that are more similar to humans, including monkeys.

Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick in Maryland commander Michael J Talley said: “There’s a good possibility that the outbreak could slow down over the warmer months and then start again later in the year when it gets colder if it follows the pattern of some past coronaviruses.”

Michael said a risk / benefit analysis would be carried out to ensure the benefits far outweigh risks.

In another development, the number of US Forces Korea (USFK)-related coronavirus infections has increased to six.

Two USFK dependents stationed in Daegu have tested positive for the virus. A dependent of a USFK active duty service member has been in self-quarantine since February 26 and is not in contact with any other USFK affiliated personnel.

A dependent of a DoD civilian employee has been in self-quarantine since February 28 with no contact to any other USFK affiliated person.

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