Lockheed Martin Simulator Prototype Gets Rid of Projectors

By Stew Magnuson

Lockheed Martin illustration

ORLANDO — Lockheed Martin is working on a radically new approach to immersive training systems that have previously relied on a series of projectors to create high-fidelity images.

AMAZE — the Amorphic Appearance Zero-Projector — is a visual display system that relies on today’s commercial LED panels and does away with the traditional dome-shaped simulators that have dominated the training market for decades.

“Projector-based dome systems have capably served the training environment for a long time,” said Erik Etz, director of business development at Lockheed Martin Training and Logistics Solutions. But new commercial LED panels are brighter with better contrast and becoming less expensive, he said while unveiling the prototype to a handful of reporters at the company’s Orlando facility.

Beaming images from projectors onto domed screens takes up space, uses a lot of energy and is high maintenance. Swapping out a bulb can take hours, he noted. “There are unique sustainment challenges associated with those projector-based dome systems that typically involve significant hardware structure outside the dome.”

LED panels, however, are not round but come in squares. The prototype shown to reporters was a series of rectangles and triangles patched together, but when standing in the correct position, the system provided a seamless view of a jet fighter swooping through a valley.

The screen has two layers: a fiber-optic light relay that projects the image onto the LED layer, said John Magda, visual display system engineer.

“We’re not asking any of our vendors to create specific shapes for the solution. And that’s how you can really keep the initial procurement costs down,” Magda said.

The image on the screen is two times brighter than traditional projected images and has three times better contrast, Etz said. But the biggest selling point is the reduced footprint of the simulator and lower sustainment costs, which the company projects as being 35 percent less than domed systems over a period of 10 years.

“And the price points for LEDs are continuing to plummet,” Etz added.

Lockheed Martin has developed the prototype with its internal research and development funding. It revealed the system to customers during the Interservice/Industry Training Simulation and Education Conference in November in Orlando, with an eye to marketing it for aviation simulators first, although it could potentially be used for any type of platform, he noted. ND

Topics: Training and Simulation

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