BAE Systems is preparing to bring VR tech to the battlefield
BAE Systems is aiming to bring augmented reality to the battlefield, as it develops anew system that would overlay virtual information onthe real world. The company believes that in a timeframe of 20 yearswe could see the system condensed into a contact lens. Working inconjunction with the University of Birmingham, BAE is confident thatthe new tech could be applied to provide an edge in battle, or savelives in an emergency situation.
Currently, the onlyoffering comes in the form of a demonstration system, using an OculusRift headset as the visual interface, allowing the operator to seethe real world alongside a host of virtual information includingphotos and video streams. However the company and its partners areworking on two analogues of the VR tech – a Portable Command Centreand a Wearable Cockpit.
The Portable CommandCentre would be contained in a briefcase-sized container, utilizing aheadset and a specialized pair of gloves to interact with the VRdisplay. Once set up, it would allow for unprecedented co-ordinationof military assets. The virtual command post could be used to monitorlive UAV streams and direct troops anywhere in the world, tappinginto news and possibly social media content to gain a feeling of asituation on the ground without the need to actually be there. BAEalso envisions the system playing host to virtual avatars that giveadvice when asked – so basically, it would be like Jarvis from Marvel's Iron Manfranchise.
Imagine a cockpit thatnever required a hardware upgrade, and can be constantly reconfiguredto the pilot's personal preference. That's what BAE is hoping toachieve with its Wearable Cockpit, pictured above. Any updates could simply beinstalled on the virtual interface, which could result in savingsrunning into the millions.
BAE concedes thatpilots will always have to wear protective helmets, and has hintedthat it will attempt to integrate the Oculus Rift-esqe visualelement into the helmet itself, possibly using the visor to overlaythe virtual information.
The possibleapplications of the technology are boundless. It could be used tostreamline disaster relief operations by allowing for anunprecedented in situ understanding of resource allocation. Of coursethe most obvious application is in the military sphere. A high-techVR system would not only allow for incredible real-time battlefieldmanagement by military commanders, but would also represent animmersive training solution.
In the long term, thesystem could be contained in a pair of shades, and from therecondensed into a contact lens. BAE states that the next step in theprogram will be to incorporate the core technologies into a number ofmore specialized demonstration programs.
Source: BAE Systems