The research supporting the Virtual Battlespace originated in 2000 when our team began work with the Air Force Research Lab’s Human Effectiveness Directorate and the Iowa National Guard’s 133rd Air Control Squadron. In 2000, the goal of the Virtual Battlespace was to develop an immersive VR system for distributed mission training and was demonstrated at I/ITSEC in 2002. Now, Virtual Battlespace integrates information about tracks, targets, sensors and threats into an interactive virtual reality environment that fuses available information into a coherent picture that can be viewed from multiple perspectives and scales. Visualizing engagements in this way is useful in a wide variety of contexts including historical mission review, mission planning, pre-briefing, post-briefing and live observation of distributed mission training scenarios.
Virtual Battlespace also serves as a platform for virtual teleoperation of UAVs, immersing users in a virtual environment that provides them with greater context and awareness of the units under their control as well as the overall mission. By integrating radar tracks and UAV video feeds, the virtual world can provide access to the latest real time battlefield information. The virtual world is constructed from a mix of a priori information and real time sensor feeds to act as an organizing context for the operator, resulting in a mixed reality system, in which real-world video and radar tracks augment a dynamic virtual world. Using real-world data to augment the virtual world is an inversion of the more typical paradigm of augmented and mixed reality where virtual information is used to enhance real world data and imagery.
To facilitate modular enhancement, Virtual Battlespace incorporates a command architecture that abstracts message passing among components as well as stream input so that any arbitrary input stream can be accommodated including terrain generators, path planners, and voice recognition input.