About Us      Recent News
How To Buy    |    Products    |    Technology    |    Case Studies
Case Studies
Case Studies Home
Fixed Wing Simulation
Mission Training
UAS Simulation
UAS Simulation
Embry-Riddle UAS Lab
Insitu UAS
Mohawk Community College UAS Lab
UAS Performance Assessment Tool
Ground Vehicle Simulation
Commercial Visual Simulations
Rotary Wing Simulation
 

MetaVR Visuals in UAS Simulation

For well over a decade MetaVR™ visuals have been used in the US Army’s unmanned aerial system (UAS) training simulators, primarily through the Multiple Unified Simulation Environment / Air Force Synthetic Environment for Reconnaissance and Surveillance (MUSE/AFSERS) simulation system, where Virtual Reality Scene Generator™ (VRSG™) provides simulated video feeds for various intelligence gathering platforms.

Real-time VRSG screen capture of a simulated MQ-9 Reaper ER UAS and AH-1Z Viper helicopter in flight over the port area of MetaVR's 3D terrain of Kismayo, Somalia. Inset image is of VRSG's simulated UAV camera view.
Real-time MetaVR VRSG screen capture of a simulated MQ-9 Reaper ERUAS and AH-1Z helicopter in flight over MetaVR's 3D terrain of Kismayo, Somalia. Inset image is of VRSG's simulated UAV camera view.

Developed by the Joint Technology Center/Systems Integration Laboratory (JSIL), MUSE/AFSERS is the primary UAS training and simulation system used in the Department of Defense for command- and staff-level joint services training and provides the largest number of fielded simulation systems in the US.

As result, MetaVR has become one of the largest suppliers of commercial licensed 3D visualization software for UAS simulation training in the US military, with nearly 2,000 active VRSG licenses in the field.

The Army uses VRSG in its Shadow Crew Trainer, and in Grey Eagle, Aerosonde, and Hunter trainers in portable, classroom, and embedded configurations. VRSG embedded in the Army’s Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS) Embedded Trainer for training operators of the Shadow, Grey Eagle, and Hunter UASs. VRSG is also used in high-fidelity classroom Universal Mission Simulators (UMS) and portable Institutional Mission Simulators. In addition to a portable classroom, each simulation setup replicates a full GCS shelter with one-seat, two-seat, and three-seat configurations.

Students from the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Academy train in the Universal Mission Simulator. Photo Credit: U.S. Army.
Students from the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Academy train in the Universal Mission Simulator (UMS). Photo: U.S. Army.

A key feature of VRSG is the ability to stream real-time HD-quality simulated video with KLV metadata using the H.264 protocol, which is indiscernible in composition from actual UAV video feed. This means that in the UGCS when UAS operators/trainees are not flying an actual UAS, they can fly a simulated UAS using the same hardware they use to operate the real system, using the JTC/SIL MUSE air vehicle and data link simulation software and VRSG. 

Real-time VRSG scene with an Aerosonde entity and sea vessel entity from MetaVR's 3D content libraries.
Real-time VRSG scene with an Aerosonde entity and sea vessel entity from MetaVR's 3D content libraries.

With MetaVR visuals used for simulated UAV camera payload video in ground control stations and in manned aircraft simulators, UAV operators, pilots, and JTAC trainees can achieve fully correlated HD H.264 simulated sensor video with accurate KLV metadata that replicates the actual sensor payload imagery of ISR assets during manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) and other distributed training exercises.

AFSOC MQ-9 Reaper Simulator

A new development effort at JSIL that involves the use of VRSG is the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Reaper Extended Range (ER) Simulator. The simulator (also known as the MALET-JSIL Aircrew Trainer) is a plug-and-play training capability that converts a current tactical MQ-9 Reaper ER ground control station (GCS) into a training simulator. The trainer provides UAS operators the ability to conduct simulation training as part of their qualification and follow-on continuation training to maintain proficiency and currency in all required operator tasks. Like other JSIL developed UAS trainers, the simulator uses the MUSE software to stimulate the tactical Vehicle Control software (VCS) to simulate GCS functions: air vehicle control, payload control, weapons control, communications, send and receive video data, and mission planning.

Again, a key feature of VRSG in this trainer is the ability to stream real-time HD-quality simulated video with KLV metadata using the H.264 protocol, which means that when operators are not flying an actual MQ-9 Reaper ER, they can train by flying the simulated UAS using the same hardware they use to operate the actual system, using the MUSE air vehicle and data link simulation software and VRSG.

The new ER variant of SOCOM’s MQ-9 Reaper is enhanced with a number of hardware and software upgrades to extend its special forces features. The AFSOC Reaper ER Simulator, which will soon be rolled out to sites across the US that house SOCOM’s MQ-9 Reaper ER aircraft, is designed to train operators to fly the new variant, which has a heavier maximum take-off weight, two external fuel tanks, a four-bladed propeller, alcohol-water injection, heavy-weight landing gear, HD full-motion video, and software enhancements that include communications and standardized location coordinates.

AFRL’s PRINCE MQ-1 / MQ-9 RPA simulator

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Warfighter Readiness Research Division 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright Patterson Air Force Base has long used VRSG in various training research simulators. For example, in 2007 AFRL was an early adopter of VRSG as the IG for a JTAC training dome (precursor to the current AAJTS and JTC-TRS dome systems). Close air support (CAS) training missions that are run in their three JTAC dome systems now include an AFRL-developed Predator training-research simulator, called the Predator Research Integrated Network Combat Environment (PRINCE). PRINCE is a high fidelity, networkable MQ-1 and MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) simulator, which was built four years ago, and serves as an R&D tactical simulator for Predator pilots and sensor operators. As part of AFRL’s research in human performance methods and technologies that provide the warfighter the necessary knowledge and skill to dominate their operational environment, the objective of the PRINCE research program is to meet known training gaps in UAV tactical operations such as JTAC integration.

VRSG is currently integrated as the simulator's IG for cross-training with the JTAC dome systems. PRINCE team members use VRSG Scenario Editor to populate the 3D terrain with culture (such as building up dense urban areas) and for creating pattern-of-life scenarios. As an example, the PRINCE can take part in a CAS training mission that includes a convoy overwatch with enemy targets in the area; VRSG generates the simulated MQ-1 camera feed that appears on both the ground control station monitor and a ROVER device used by the JTAC.

UAS classroom, portable, and embedded visual system trainers
As stated earlier, VRSG provides the desktop and embedded 3D synthetic payload visualization system for training UAS operators on ground control stations such as the US Army’s UGCS. The Army’s UAS Universal Mission Simulator (UMS) is a Training Aids, Devices, Simulators, and Simulations (TADSS desktop training suite) system that provides training for the operation of the Army’s UGCS for the MQ-5B Hunter, RQ-7 Shadow, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle platforms in a classroom or portable environment.


Simulation training in the classroom at the UASTB facility Fort Huachuca, AZ, on embedded trainers using VRSG.

The UMS enables UAS operators to conduct training as part of their qualification training and follow-on continuation training to maintain proficiency and currency in all required operator tasks. The system uses the MUSE system with VRSG to stimulate the tactical Vehicle Control software (VCS) to simulate the following UGCS functions: air vehicle control, payload control, weapons control, communications, send and receive video data, and mission planning. The simulator incorporates multifunctional software approaches to provide UAS operators with a high-fidelity training experience for individual, crew, and collective training. In a classroom setting such as at the Army’s UAS Training Center at Fort Huachuca, AZ, the simulators are full-size mockups of the actual ground control stations from which UAVs are operated in the field.

VRSG is embedded directly in the UGCS, which makes a smooth transition for training in a shelter in the field which soldiers can use to maintain flight time requirements and currency. The UGCS is a NATO STANAG 4586-compliant command-and-control platform that incorporates the Army’s Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) for robust bandwidth and data security, and is designed to command and control multiple joint services UASs simultaneously. The TCDL, which sends secure data and streaming video from reconnaissance airborne platforms to ground stations, transmits radar, imagery, video, and other sensor information.

Pennsylvania Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Robert Frey, unmanned aerial systems manager, pilots an RQ-7B Shadow 200 aircraft on the Shadow Crew Trainer at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA. Photo: U.S. Army, Staff Sgt. David Strayer.
Pennsylvania Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Robert Frey, unmanned aerial systems manager, pilots an RQ-7B Shadow 200 aircraft on the Shadow Crew Trainer at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA. Shadow crews use the SCT, which includes MetaVR visuals, to gain flight time and proficiency before utilizing actual aircraft in the field. Photo: U.S. Army, Staff Sgt. David Strayer.

Since 2002, the US Army National Guard has purchased VRSG licenses for ongoing fielding in its embedded Shadow Crew Trainer (SCT). These licenses support embedded trainers in Shadow TUAS, Aerosonde, Hunter, and Grey Eagle UASs, which are used by both Army and Army National Guard units. The SCT is a mission-level fully enclosed mobile classroom environment training device that enables users to train on their specific roles, as well as team-level communication and mission rehearsal. The SCT can train up to five students simultaneously in an integrated mode. Simple graphical user interfaces mimic the actual equipment. Trainees can log SCT hours as flight hours toward their overall requirements for Shadow UAS training. Each TUAS system is comprised of three air vehicles, two ground control stations, two ground data terminals, a launcher, a tactical automatic landing system, and an aerial vehicle transport. The GCS is a critical component of the TUAS system. In normal operation, the GCS is used to control the flight of the UAS and receive its telemetry. When the system operators are not flying the actual UAS, they can fly a simulated UAS using the same hardware using the JTC/SIL MUSE air vehicle and data link simulation software and MetaVR VRSG.


U.S. Army's Shadow Shadow Crew Trainer, part of U.S. Army TADSS desktop training suite with MetaVR visuals. Image courtesy of AAI/Textron.

Configuring VRSG to simulate a UAS/RPA

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

GV3.0 output of decoded MetaVR VRSG's MPEG stream and embedded UAV metadata.
A screenshot of GV3.0 output of decoded VRSG's H.264 simulated sensor video with accurate KLV metadata.

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 as a large-format NITF 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 HD 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 H.264 stream and embedded UAV metadata. (A screenshot of GV output with metadata is shown below. ) The H.264 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 H.264 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 license.

  • Coupling VRSG with remotely operated video-enhanced receiver (ROVER) devices, used by JTACs / FACs 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.
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.

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.

Long-haul networked environments that do not have the bandwidth to handle streaming digital video directly can set up a UAV regeneration station, which is a local VRSG computer configured to reproduce the UAV video of a remote VRSG computer.

 

  AAI's TUAV ground control system shell mounted on a humvee.   View inside AAI's TUAV GCS, showing MetaVR VRSG simulating the Shadow camera payload.
  The ground control station shell is mounted on a humvee, which tows the Shadow UAS behind it on a launcher trailer as shown in the last image below.    A view inside the control station, showing VRSG simulating the Shadow camera payload.


View from inside a GCS.

AAI Shadow TUAS supported by its launcher trailer.
The Shadow UAS is supported here by its launcher trailer. Notice the camera extending from the bottom of the aircraft, which supplies video feed to the ground control station shown in the images above. This is the camera view that VRSG simulates.

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.

    Contact Us     Site Map     Downloads    Privacy Policy    Copyright © 2016 MetaVR, Inc.