ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 1, 2015 — For the first time, U.S. Marine Corps officer candidates recently used augmented reality technology during live-fire training exercises.
The Augmented Immersive Team Trainer (AITT) systems comprise a laptop, software, battery and helmet-mounted display. Developed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), they are intended to support an array of live and virtual training scenarios by injecting virtual images, indirect fire effects, aircraft, vehicles, simulated people and more onto a real-world view of a soldier's surroundings.
A Marine is fitted with the Augmented Immersive Team Trainer system during testing last month in Quantico, Va. Courtesy of John F. Williams/U.S. Navy.
"This affordable, lightweight system can be taken anywhere — turning any environment into a training ground — and could be used to prepare Marines for real-world situations and environments they will face," said Brig. Gen. Julian Alford, vice chief of naval research and commanding general of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.
Marines taking part in the Infantry Officer Course used the AITTs on Aug. 5 and 6 at a base in Quantico, Va. The devices were used to simulate ground vehicles, aircraft and munitions.
Ordinarily, the field portion of the "call-for-fire" training included aircraft and munitions, which are costly and time-consuming to set up, staff and equip, but an important part of the training experience for the student officers. The wait time for a test range can be six to 12 months, rain can cancel the testing, and it can be difficult to maintain assets in place, since equipment can break down.
Augmented reality will enable student officers to use virtual assets to complement live training or to get additional practice repetitions without having to use live assets, said Dr. Peter Squire, a program officer with ONR's Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department and leader of the AITT effort.
"And instead of using your imagination, now you can see virtual effects from the blasts, like smoke," Squire said.
"The system makes the training easier and eliminates the maintenance issues or weather-related restrictions that can pare down or cancel training," said Maj. George Flynn, director of the Infantry Officer Course. "For instance, this system can use virtual air support, so even if it's raining, the students can still be training, getting confidence and learning the points of employing aviation assets."