Real-time war games

Streamlining bureaucracy results in lower costs and increased productivity. Following last summer’s strategic defence review, and the realised need for two new aircraft carriers, an MOD rethink over the way military equipment is procured has had predictably impressive results. Visitors to the virtual reality engineering centre at SEA in Bristol saw aircraft `flown’ from simulators scattered across the country land on a virtual aircraft carrier operated from Bristol Business Park.

The use of engineering simulators is an established way of optimising designs at the early stages of a project. However, the MOD, the DERA and a number of industry partners have been looking at new ways of using this technology to test and evaluate warship designs.

Project Vitesse is an investigation into the integration of product modelling, design analysis, and distributed simulation. Until recently it was too expensive to support geographically separated, real-time simulations operating within a single environment. However, pilot tests carried out over the last four years have shown that low cost off-the-shelf software can support virtual prototyping of warship systems and processes.

Using software which includes Vega, ENVISION and dVISE, the carrier simulation allows the behaviour of designs to be accurately predicted under different conditions.

However, the exciting nature of this project lies in the distributed nature of the technology. Engineers at scattered locations can work simultaneously on the same project, and the enhanced realism of the simulation means that it can be used to test human reactions even more efficiently than was previously possible.