TRAINING AND SIMULATION
IT2EC NEWS: British Company Building Big Tent for Simulated Training Environment
BAE Systems photo
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — When it comes to building a single, synthetic training environment, U.K.-based BAE Systems is shunning exclusivity and getting in bed with a range of vendors who provide niche capabilities.
BAE’s Project OdeSSEy, which the company is self-funding, is entering its second phase with the addition of PLEXSYS Interface Products to the team working to build a scalable, single, synthetic environment, company officials said at IT2EC, one of Europe's biggest training and simulation conferences.
“We've worked with … eight different companies that have been working alongside us to create this entire demonstration and build the foundations of the core product that we want to do,” Lucy Walton, head of training for BAE’s air sector, told reporters.
“And we're now at the point of entering into phase two, we're starting to increase what the capabilities are, increase things like the artificial intelligence, and also starting to have a look at how we bring in more complexity,” she said.
The first phase was proof of concept to show that the core abstract software was working and that everyone in a simulation had a common operating environment, she said.
“We proved that you can inter-opt old systems with new, and everyone was seeing the same operating picture and training to a set of training objectives for an air-land integration activity,” she continued.
Phase two will add other domains and distributed capabilities, she said. “And it's very focused on multi-domain training. So, this is this is really trying to break down those barriers of having those individual areas — air, sea and land, and obviously cyber and space coming in more — how do we actually collectively train for those areas?” she said.
Several vendors have partnered on the effort so far. Pitch Technologies provides interoperability through architectures that talk to each other and real time communications. UCrowds handles coding for human behaviors and pattern of life, she said. “We wanted to make sure we complicated the scenario with people — people are generally the hardest thing to model.”
Bohemia Interactive’s VBS4 is the core simulation engine. Hadean is partnered to provide the cloud integration layer that allows participants to train in a single environment while geographically separated, said Mimi Keshani, co-founder and COO of Hadean.
“And then within that adding tons of complexity via 60,000 AI entities running around and causing chaos and tweeting and the trainees having to adapt to the emerging situation is another part of the solution that we provide,” she said.
“It's really, how do you make a meaningful training experience, but also something that you can't learn the steps — it's not going to happen in the same way, every time,” she said.
PLEXSYS Interface Products is now bringing its technology into the mix to fill a gap identified by BAE, said Sanjay Khetia, director of PLEXSYS.
“What we're trying to do is to augment what OdySSEy already have, by giving a piece of capability that allows you to replicate threats, replicate weapons, stimulate operational systems that essentially deliver those effects that are required for the warfighter,” he said.
And they are working across the planning, briefing execution and debriefing cycle, he added.
“It's not just purely execution, it is all about how do you ensure that all the warfighters are using what technologies are available out there to actually plan and brief before you go out and execute,” he said. “And how do you take the data … gathering data is one thing, but it's actually analyzing the data and knowing why you're capturing it, and what you're trying to capture from it, and then trying to decipher that as well.”
Data management is an increasing problem for militaries today with the proliferation of sensors and technology that generate reams of data. Making sense of training data generated by synthetic environments requires, artificial intelligence, Walton said.
“We've used AI and machine learning to really start to understand how it can impact training for the individual and making sure that they're staying in that optimum learning curve,” Walton said. “We can see when somebody is really quite stressed out and therefore, they're probably not learning to the best. We could also see when someone has kind of sat back having a cup of tea and … we need to make the scenario harder.”
AI can enable exercise directors to make real-time adjustments to training scenarios, she said. The other side of that is ensuring that there are data and benchmarks to assess students against.
“We use machine learning to put a number of experts through a number of serials, and that will help us to set the bar of what ‘good’ should look like,” she said.
Project OdySSEy launched in April 2022 and to this point, BAE has paid for the project, including funding some of the partners. That approach will continue in phase two, and the goal is to have customers fund and provide requirements for phase three, which should begin around March 2024, Walton said.
While BAE is continuing to bring in partners, it’s an open relationship. “We don't we don't mandate exclusivity — that would be an absolutely awful thing to do to a small-medium enterprise,” Walton said.
Keshani called that approach refreshing and said it is enabling Hadean to grow and run its business, which started in the gaming industry. “We're an enabling technology … we're bringing technology from another industry here to be used to create some cool things.”
Khetia added that the goal is not to create a monolithic system. “The whole point of this is it is an ecosystem, which has got the best in class in terms of providers. And the whole idea is that it keeps everyone continuously innovating and making sure that the companies like BAE actually make use of new technologies as and when they are available,” he said. “But the whole point is to make use of new capabilities and bring that into service to essentially benefit the warfighter more than anything else.”
While BAE and its partners are looking to address warfighter needs, they are also trying to address a call from government and military leaders who stressed during panel discussions at IT2EC that advancing synthetic training requires industry to collaborate, Walton said.
“This is one such collaboration that the defense sectors have been crying out for, you know, industry leaning in and actually saying, ‘This is what we can do for you,’” she said.
“It's our responsibility to help our customers by being as open as we can to integrate with each other,” she added. “Because if we don't integrate, our customers have got a bag of bits. It's not going to deliver anything.”
Topics: Training and Simulation