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MetaVR Visuals in UAS Simulation

In the first half of 2013, 205 new VRSG licenses were sold to various programs for UAS training.

MetaVR™ is one of the largest suppliers of unmanned aerial system (UAS) commercial licensed 3D visualization software for the US military with well over 1,000 active VRSG licenses in the field. Much of this installed base is through the Multiple Unified Simulation Environment / Air Force Synthetic Environment for Reconnaissance and Surveillance (MUSE/AFSERS) simulation system, which is used at the UAV training center at Fort Huachuca and other training sites. VRSG drives the visuals for MUSE/AFSERS, which is the primary UAS training and simulation system used in the Department of Defense for command- and staff-level joint services training.

Real-time MetaVR VRSG screen capture of a simulated Gray Eagle UAS over MetaVR's 3D terrain of Kismaayo, Somalia. Inset image is VRSG's simulated UAV camera view. Click to see an enlarged view.
Real-time VRSG screen capture of a simulated Gray Eagle UAS in flight over MetaVR's 3D terrain of Kismayo, Somalia. Inset image is of VRSG's simulated UAV camera view. Click the image to see an enlarged view.

MetaVR visual systems are used in multiple UAS programs, including the embedded Shadow Crew Trainer Universal Ground Control Station (and older One System Ground Control Station) which is used for training Shadow TUAS, Hunter, Aerosonde, and Gray Eagle unmanned aerial systems. Insitu, Inc. uses 34 MetaVR VRSG licenses for simulation training of one of its Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Aurora Flight Sciences uses VRSG to simulate its Orion UAS and Chandler May uses VRSG to simulate ISR functions of its Fury 1500. At its Prescott, AZ, campus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) uses VRSG in its UAS simulation and training lab, which opened in autumn 2012.

MetaVR VRSG real-time view of simulated Aerosonde UAV in flight over MetaVR's virtual terrain of Afghanistan. Click to see an enlarged view.   MetaVR VRSG real-time view of a simulated Maveric UAV in flight over MetaVR's virtual terrain of Afghanistan. Click to see an enlarged view.
  VRSG real-time views of an Aerosonde SUAS and a Maveric micro-UAV in flight over MetaVR's virtual terrain of Afghanistan.

VRSG can be configured to simulate a UAS in a variety of ways. These configurations range from using VRSG's internal camera payload model in which the telemetry of the simulated UAV is provided by a DIS or HLA entity, to fully integrated applications such as the MUSE UAV tactical trainer.

UAS simulations based on MetaVR VRSG use MetaVR's Metadesic terrain database technology. Metadesic terrain is a true geocentric, round-earth representation that is free of error-prone projections used by most commercial image generators. Geocentric terrain is necessary to capture earth curvature and for accurate measurement of target positions. Metadesic terrain scales well to even global coverage datasets. With MetaVR's Metadesic geometry and compressed texture paging technologies, the terrain database extent is limited only by disk storage capacity.

Real-time MetaVR VRSG scenes featuring a Shadow UAV entity flying over MetaVR's virtual Afghanistan, the Shadow's simulated camera view of an insurgent compound below it, JTAC and coalition soldier characters, and the JTAC's simulated designator view of the target scene. Click to see an enlarged view.
Real-time MetaVR VRSG scenes featuring a Shadow IE UAV entity flying over MetaVR's virtual Afghanistan, the Shadow’s simulated camera view of an insurgent compound below it, a JTAC character, and the JTAC's simulated designator view of the target scene. Click any of the images to see an enlarged view.

Since 2001, MetaVR VRSG has been the primary supplier of visual systems for the Joint Technology Center/Systems Integration Laboratory (JTC/SIL) MUSE/AFSERS simulation system, which is the largest UAS simulation program in the United States. The program provides the largest number of fielded simulation systems for training command and staff level training for UAS, which is used to support worldwide warfighter exercises and demonstrations.

The MUSE/AFSERS simulation is a general intelligence collection platform simulation for airborne collection systems with electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR), and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payloads. The MetaVR MUSE VRSG system provides the visualization system component for MUSE that generates synthetic payload scene video and/or imagery of the 3D battlefield with simulated target entities. This video and imagery is subsequently fed to a tactical or generic UAS/intelligence platform control station where operators perform air vehicle and payload control functions, and an air vehicle and datalink simulation.

GV3.0 output of decoded MetaVR VRSG's MPEG stream and embedded UAV metadata.
A screenshot of GV3.0 output of decoded VRSG's MPEG stream and embedded UAV metadata.

VRSG UAS simulation features include:

  • Capturing high-resolution virtual world screen images remotely. VRSG can instruct the UAV camera to capture the current image in its field of view from remote operators in the simulation environment, save the image to a file, and deliver the file for display on another computer. This feature simulates the Global Hawk large image sensor capability.

  • Using VRSG as a simulated, live, virtual video feed from a UAV that is used to classify ground information from a Geographical Situational Display. Airborne or space-borne collection systems that use Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) and target identification devices create symbolic representations of moving entities over large geographic areas. VRSG enables the operator to refine target identification and classification.

  • Streaming real-time UAV KLV metadata multiplexed into an MPEG-2 or H.264 (MPEG-4) transport stream. Tactical exploitation systems can use VRSG's streaming MPEG feed to visualize sensor payload imagery in real time and extract the UAV metadata. VRSG supports the KLV encoding of UAV telemetry in a compliant subset of NATO standard STANAG 4096 to include EG 0601 KLV metadata, and MISB security metadata standard 0102.7. The metadata editor GV 3.0 is an example of a system that can decode VRSG's MPEG stream and embedded UAV metadata. (A screenshot of GV output with metadata is shown above. ) The MPEG stream can be transmitted live over UDP to a ROVER device (or any device that can play back video from an ISR video feed), or streamed to a file for later playback. The MPEG encoding and metadata multiplexing runs as a plugin for VRSG on the same computer. The plugin requires no extra hardware, software, or cost beyond a VRSG 5.7 license.

  • Coupling VRSG with remotely operated video-enhanced receiver (ROVER) devices, which are often used by JTACs in close air support (CAS) missions. VRSG generates the simulated 3D scene and the range and coordinates of a designated target on the ROVER's monitor. One aspect of training UAS operators entails interacting with JTACs in joint mission training. Training together in a networked synthetic environment, the UAS operator and the JTAC on the ground work together to identify the same target in a scene.

Real-time VRSG screen capture of an MQ-1 Predator entity in flight over a modeled village on MetaVR's 3D terrain of Afghanistan. To the right is the simulated Predator camera view. Click to see an enlarged view.
Real-time VRSG screen capture of an MQ-1 Predator entity in flight over a modeled village on MetaVR's 3D terrain of Afghanistan. To the right is the simulated Predator camera view. Click the image to see an enlarged view.

In autumn 2010, VRSG provided the visuals through AFSERS in the live, virtual and constructive (LVC) Green Flag East 11-1 exercise held at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, LA. During the exercise of combined distributed models and simulations, JTACs received an encrypted LVC video broadcast to ROVERs of simulated UAV camera view streamed from VRSG.

VRSG provides realistic simulation capability for UAS training packaged in a ruggedized deployable container for the MUSE and AFSERS programs. The image below shows a ruggedized container-based system that is designed such that it can be palletized and airlifted to training exercises in the field on short notice and can survive the journey and the training scenario under harsh environmental conditions. MUSE unmanned training systems are deployed for overseas training exercises.

Ruggedized container-based MetaVR visual system.
MetaVR VRSG ruggedized rackmount system.

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