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Bohemia Interactive Simulations March Newsletter

In the Air. On the Water. Train Anywhere.

 
Some think of VBS as primarily a tool for infantry training. While it’s true that BISim has invested tremendous resources and time in building models, terrains, and other land-based content, we are continuously enhancing VBS for uses in aerial and maritime training.

This month we are highlighting engine optimizations that push VBS technology closer to the realm of fast-air training scenarios and position us to assist navies around the world with maritime training issues. VBS offers over dozens of aircraft and watercraft models, including unmanned vehicles. We’ve recently invested in improving the graphics of water features, including improved ship wakes, more realistic sea states, and water cutting. Our most recent work with The Royal Navy and efforts to improve our game engine for aerial simulation demonstrates that for VBS, nothing is impossible.

Regards,

Pete Morrison, Co-CEO, Bohemia Interactive Simulations

In this issue:

www.bisimulations.com

Building Bigger in VBS: the UK’s New Type 45 Destroyer Model

Bohemia Interactive Simulations recently delivered a functioning model of the Type 45 Destroyer to The Royal Navy.

"The Type 45 Destroyer VBS2 project has been a fantastic and challenging project to work on," said The Royal Navy's Lieutenant Commander Simon Coles, the Officer-in-Charge at the Future Training Unit. "The model produced now provides the Royal Navy with the opportunity to exploit the virtual ship not only for elements of individual training but also sub team and team training using the multi-player environment.  The ‘safe to fail’ and after action review benefits of the model provide the Royal Navy real value to what can be achieved in training prior to live operations."

The sheer size and complexity of this project is astounding. Our designers and artists have recreated this 300-compartment ship in extensive detail,” said Pete Morrison, co-CEO of Bohemia Interactive Simulations. “This effort represents a milestone in developing large, complex and enterable vehicles in VBS, and with it our developers and designers have expanded the capabilities of our game engine and opened the door to offer more maritime training options for our customers.

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence commissioned a new class of anti-air warfare destroyers, Type 45, to replace its Type 42 Destroyers, which had served the Royal Navy since 1978. The first Type 45 began sea trials in 2006 and began its first commission in 2009.

Because the Ministry of Defence already used VBS for other training activities, the Royal Navy Future Training Unit requested in 2012 that Bohemia Interactive Simulations build a model of the Type 45 that would not only allow sailors to walk around the ship and become familiar with the ship’s design, but also allow them to train on essential procedures inside the ship, such as ship’s protection, damage control and fire fighting, routine operation and maintenance checks. The Royal Navy needed a way to have sailors walk around the 500-foot-long ship to learn the layout and the locations of emergency equipment to ensure the crew’s safety before setting out to sea.

The Navy will train sailors on standard operating procedures (SOP) such as launching the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats. If deployed incorrectly, these highly valuable seaboats can be damaged. Training using the virtual simulation but following the same SOP reduces the risk of damage and improves safety. This interactive model allows trainees to practice the process of moving a Merlin helicopter out of the hangar and getting the fully flyable helicopter model off the ship. Training virtually allows sailors to practice communicating with the bridge and other parts of the ship during these exercises.

BISim created the model with functioning doors, lights, davits and guns, as well as some functioning equipment on the ship’s bridge. The model in VBS also allows aircraft to land and take off from the ship, and be maneuvered around the deck using the aircraft trolley. BISim also developed new technology for the ship’s plan view map system that allows a trainer or administrator to follow players’ avatars as they walk around the ship.

Since safety is always a top concern for naval operations, the creation of a virtual model of the Type 45 in VBS allows the Royal Navy to raise competence levels in a variety of challenging environmental and/or high risk conditions such as training in poor weather conditions or at night that would be risky in real-world practice, before operating live.

While the Type 45 was built specifically for the Royal Navy and will not be available in commercial builds, it demonstrates the flexibility of VBS for customers seeking to train on (and in) large vessels in VBS. These types of massive, complex platforms can operate with realistic physics in regular VBS scenarios.

 
Are you exhibiting VBS at ITEC in May? If so, let us know so that we can include you in our exhibition map and media kit, which will be available to customers and industry partners via our website and also distributed to all media outlets covering ITEC. Please contact Tess Butler at marketing@bisimulations.com.
The VBS2 User Group will reconvene at ITEC in Cologne, Germany on Wednesday, May 21st at 1400. The meeting room details will be announced nearer the time. If our military customers would like to attend the session, please follow this link for registration. As usual, we’ll be presenting our roadmap and discussing the future of the Virtual Battlespace. Thank you.

BISim Welcomes New Business Developer for Italy

Along with its entry into the Italian market and partnership with reseller STE, BISim has appointed Claudio Taraschi as its new business developer, based in Milan.

Taraschi will be responsible for all business development and sales efforts in Italy. He will work in partnership with STE to secure license sales of BISim’s products and other services. Taraschi, who was born in Rho, attended Universita degli studi di Milano and received his B.A. in computer science, with a specialization in 3D and computer graphics. Before joining BISim, he worked as a technical account manager for Tess-com Italia and has worked at other companies in customer support and as a software development project manager.

New VBS Capabilities Optimize Performance

Simulation designers face a common challenge: how to maintain runtime performance while supplying enough environmental fidelity. A simulation for the air domain typically represents terrain with minimal surface detail. A simulation for dismounted urban combat may not scale up beyond the size of a few city blocks. Attempting to do both at the same time poses a challenge. The simulation needs to provide enough urban detail to support realistic door-to-door operations at ground level and a vast and smooth view of the same terrain from the sky.

BISim is working on this challenge by completing a real-time object aggregation system that will bring more performance when viewing complex urban environments from the air. Most importantly, this improvement will not require users to recreate any terrain databases they already have -- the benefits will be available just by upgrading to the next VBS3 release. This object aggregation technology allows individual scenery models (trees and buildings) to be grouped together into an aggregated model in real time, which will require far fewer draw calls to the graphics card. This is already proving to be a huge leap forward for rendering performance, and it allows much greater view distances and higher density of scenery objects than previously possible.

This performance improvement is coupled with a smarter object fading technique for objects at the view distance threshold. Objects will now fade smoothly out of visibility, which results in a more believable visual experience when moving a camera quickly over the terrain database.

“Within VBS, you will be able to fly at high altitudes while maintaining good frame rates,” says Oliver Arup, BISim UK’s technical director. “Object aggregation offers VBS customers more options, making flight training in VBS more of a reality, and, ultimately, creating an even more comprehensive and flexible simulation solution.”

Another issue faced by VBS users when doing combined land and air training is the ability to maintain visual contact with aircraft out to realistic distances. This is a particular problem on the typical desktop and laptop hardware often used for VBS. At some distance from the viewer, an aircraft occupies less screen space than a single pixel, so it is culled from view and the users can no longer see it.

In order to solve this training problem, BISim has been working on a sub-pixel rendering technique that will still allow trainees to visually track an aircraft out to appropriate distances, even on low-resolution displays, by still representing the object even at sub-pixel sizes. By allowing the object to maintain at least a one-pixel size at a greater distance, aircraft can be guaranteed to remain visible within a fixed distance. This improvement will be particularly important for users interested in training Forward Air Controllers/Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and air traffic controllers.

Together, these new capabilities offer users more realistic training and make VBS3 more suitable for a wider range of training exercises.

A video highlighting these improvements is available here.

NATO Partners to Discuss VBS2/3 at International Workshop

NATO, NATO nations and partners will gather in Rome from April 8-10 to discuss their current and future plans for the use of VBS2 and VBS3 at the Smart Defence Immersive Training Environments Workshop. Representatives from Bohemia Interactive Simulations will be in attendance, both to discuss VBS and the potential for further multinational collaborative uses.

The meeting offers an opportunity for NATO, NATO nations and partner nations to not only discuss their independent simulation training activities, challenges and experiences, but also provides an opportunity to share and develop ideas on how to coordinate geographic distributed training on a NATO shared licence of VBS along with scenario and asset libraries. This concept, part of NATO’s Smart Defence multinational cooperation initiative, seeks to improve force readiness by using education and training technology prior to exercise or deployment.

BISim previously developed VBS2 NATO, a lightweight version of VBS2 that can be freely used by NATO member countries for individual or collective training. It includes many of the capabilities of full VBS2 including a mission editor and extensive 3D content (units, vehicles and terrains).

All nations who are linked to NATO (NATO and partners) and actively using or planning to use VBS are invited to attend. Email jadladmin@act.nato.int for further details.

SimCentric’s Fusion
Now Available for VBS3

SimCentric Technologies is proud to announce the launch of the Fusion API for VBS3. Fusion for VBS3 3.2 incorporates cosmetic changes to its structure in relation to its predecessors. SimCentric has taken note of the comments provided by our extensive user network and has revamped the structure of the API and related documentation accordingly to better suit user requirements. We are also glad to announce that we have resolved the namespace conflicts related to the use of the C++ standard (std) namespace.

All customers with active support for VBS2Fusion will receive a free upgrade to Fusion for VBS3. Similarly, Fusion for VBS3 will be available for all customers with an active VBSDNFusion or VBSDN Small Business subscription.

To download documentation on converting VBS2NG Fusion plugin to run in VBS3 3.2, click here.
To download documentation on converting VBS2VTK Fusion plugin to run in VBS3 3.2, click here.

BISim Academic Programme

If you are a regular reader of our newsletter you will know we have recently put more resources into our global Academic Liaison Programme. We are providing VBS licences for VBS-based academic research projects, a channel for internships and employment at BISim, and a dedicated Academic Liaison.

We have continued our series of visits to academic institutions. We learned that the Department of Computing at Imperial College London is making great strides in the machine analysis of human behaviour (http://ibug.doc.ic.ac.uk/home). We were generously given the opportunity to speak to students about simulation in general and careers at BISim at the University of Hull and we will shortly be proposing student projects there. The University of Portsmouth has been working successfully with VBS for many years, and at its School of Creative Technologies we saw the impressive new facilities there including motion capture and VR rooms. Again, we will be suggesting student projects there. We attended the Queen Mary, University of London Industrial Liaison Forum, which provided an opportunity to brief engineering students on VBS and career opportunities at BISim.

If you are in academia anywhere in the world, or would like to know more about this initiative, please contact our Academic Liaison, Andy Fawkes (andy.fawkes@bisimulations.com). Further information, as well as updates on the projects currently being undertaken, will be provided on our website and in future newsletters.

Join BISim UK
and Novatech for April Demo

Leading edge simulation systems demand the right hardware to deliver the rich, immersive training experience that military customers expect. BISim UK and Novatech have been working together to design solutions for VBS3.

Novatech have classroom and zero client systems to support local and remote use of VBS3 that remove the dependence on MOD-supplied hardware.

To engage with the UK military simulation industrial community we have set up a day at the Novatech head office and factory in Cosham to see the systems in action.

The day will cover:

  1. Novatech overview
  2. Novatech factory tour
  3. VBS3 update
  4. Novatech VBS3 hardware demo
  5. Open forum/discussions
  6. Lunch

The briefing will start at 1000 and finish at 1400.

If you would like to attend or be represented, please contact Our UK Office Head Jonathan Read at jonathan.read@bisimulations.com

VBS2/3 in the News

Polish media group Onet game mentioned VBS’s role in training the U.S. military in a story about how gaming is influencing technology development. To read more, click here.

In UK defence magazine Advance, Surrey-based simulation consultancy NSC announced that it had developed a functional model of the updated Lynx Mk9a for VBS2. While the model is not a flight simulator, it can be used “to allow a crew to get used to working together and communicating with each other.” Read more here.

Enhance Your VBS Training

Book training courses at BISim’s Orlando Training Facility during the months of April and May that fit your team’s schedule. Our training team has reserved time during these periods so that customers can arrange times that fit their schedules. BISim offers a wide range of training courses to help you get the most out of VBS. The following courses are available to book now via our website:
 
Administration Course: April 7-April 11, 2014 Orlando, FL, USA
Administration Course: April 28-May 2, 2014 Farnborough, UK
Scripting Course: May 5-May 9, 2014 Farnborough, UK
Administration Course: June 2-June 6, 2014 Farnborough, UK
Scripting Course: June 9-June 13, 2014 Farnborough, UK
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