Virtual Afghanistan Village
To meet the needs of training NATO soldiers for coalition operations in Afghanistan, MetaVR™ has built 3D geospecific terrain of the entire country of Afghanistan, covering 647,500 sq. km, featuring a high-resolution virtual village with over 500 buildings in the Afghan province of Kabul. This virtual terrain is available in MetaVR's round-earth format for use with Virtual Reality Scene Generator™ (VRSG™) in simulation and training, with particular emphasis on identifying and defeating IEDs using resources from combined military branches and nations. The terrain is also delivered with correlated SAF databases in CTDB and OTF formats.
As a significant percentage of Afghanistan's population lives in mountainous terrain, training warfighters in a simulated environment that accurately represents mountainous regions with small population centers is critical. Unlike the simplified, flattened terrain used to simulate urban environments in most image generators and video games, MetaVR’s high-resolution Afghan village is set within mountains and complex terrain of varying elevation and cave networks, enabling realistic training scenarios for mission planning and rehearsal of operations in mountainous villages.
The virtual terrain of this area was built from geospecific high-resolution elevation and imagery source data; it was augmented with finer level terrain details derived from the imagery to add to the realism near ground level.
This Afghanistan virtual terrain provides the opportunity for users to conduct challenging exercises within its tunnel and cave network, as is demonstrated in the example insurgent stronghold. Accurately simulating typical below-ground entrances is another important part of preparing soldiers for Afghanistan and other mountainous regions.
The overall imagery resolution of the virtual terrain of the whole country is 2.5 meters. The terrain, built with MetaVR’s Terrain Tools for ESRI ArcGIS, includes an area of 1,120 sq. km of 60 cm Digital Globe commercial satellite source imagery and 90 meter elevation posts. Within this area is the highly detailed 2 sq. km terrain of a 3D geospecific Afghan village. This terrain was made entirely from commercial, non-export controlled source data.
The effective terrain elevation resolution is much higher in the village areas as the construction of inferred cultural features from the geospecific imagery such as courtyards, tree line, and crops further define the elevation relief. This terrain is built entirely from commercial, non-export controlled source data. Using MetaVR’s new terrain work flow process, additional terrain areas can be readily constructed.
Enhancing the overall SRTM3 elevation data are higher resolution areas of the village. These high-resolution areas define features such as berms, ditches, and a tunnel network, all of which were modeled in Autodesk 3ds Max. The village area has approximately 520 custom-built 3D structures that match the building footprints visible on the source imagery. All 3D content was created in Autodesk 3ds Max, and is referenced by the terrain’s cultural feature file at run time; the content is rendered by VRSG at run-time as part of the terrain. Many of the buildings are multi-level and contain modeled interiors. Open doorways, translucent windows, and stairways, contribute to making the structures within the virtual village suitable for tactical scenarios. The textures of many cultural features are derived from publicly available photographs found on the Internet. Geospecific agricultural fields are also modeled and can be tailored to represent various crop types over different seasons.
The modeled village is based on the small village of Khairabad in the southern part of the Kabul province. Khairabad, situated at an altitude of 1,843 meters, is located approximately 10-15 kilometers south of Kabul city center, next to Qalai Naeem in the Char Asiab district.
This virtual village and its surrounding mountainous terrain is optimized for conducting ground combat simulations, such as sniper, IED detection, and forward air controller or JTAC exercises such as those undertaken by A-10 missions, with a high degree of realism. For example, the high-resolution terrain and models appear accurately in simulated magnified view scopes and laser designators. A sniper scenario that is delivered with the terrain shows an overwatch position on a ridge approximately 200 meters from an insurgent stronghold. The 3D vehicle entities on the ridge behind the sniper and JTAC teams, such as the Fennek ISAF, are representative of the types of vehicles that are actually used to transport soldiers in these mountainous regions.
The sniper scenario is one of the several scenarios delivered with the terrain that feature a number of technical military vehicle models and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) models representative of combat vehicles used in the area. The vehicles, characters, and other models used in the scenarios are all from MetaVR’s 3D content libraries, which are bundled with MetaVR's image generator.
The images below show a Buffalo entity starting to extract an IED that has been buried in a hole in the road. A patched road is a tell-tale sign to UAV operators and Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams of a site where an IED has been planted. Notice in the image on the right that the patched area appears warmer in the UAV camera thermal mode.
The tunnel and cave complex in this virtual terrain has an entry point in one of the buildings that is linked to a cave and tunnel position in the courtyard, which could be used as a mortar position. The tunnel exits some distance away in a heavily wooded area behind the building complex and courtyard. The tunnel network is modeled with geometry and textures much like the above-ground terrain. It can support the underground traversal of small entities such as small unmanned ground vehicles (SUGVs) or characters.
MetaVR's Afghanistan 3D terrain, built in collaboration with Simthetiq, is available free of charge in MetaVR's terrain formats and SAF formats to MetaVR customers who are on active software maintenance and are US Government or NATO agencies or contractors (for official use only). The terrain requires a license of VRSG version 5.7 or higher.