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Virtual Baghdad Terrain

Virtual Baghdad Terrain


The Combat Studies Institute (CSI), an academic department within the Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, uses MetaVR's Virtual Reality Scene Generator (VRSG) and 3D terrain of areas in and around Baghdad, Iraq. The Baghdad databases, or "virtual views" as CSI refers to them, are used to create enhanced warfighter training experiences and opportunities prior to deployment.

  Note: The terrain described in this legacy case study was built in MetaVR's UTM flat-earth (MDX) format and illustrates the level of detail we model cultural features in some of our terrain databases. The images on this page are from what is currently available in MetaVR’s round-earth (MDS) format.

MetaVR developed the 270 km x 200 km 3D terrain from colorized 1 meter black and white imagery and 30 meter elevation data using our terrain creation software, both our commercial products and internal tools. Within the overall terrain databases, nine built up regions were developed, each with an average of approximately 885,000 polygons per scene, including six of areas in Baghdad, two of the town of An Nasiriyah, and one of Al Aziziyah, a town about 60 km east of Baghdad. Each 6 km x 6 km area consisted of built up microterrain with geospecific cultural content and colorized imagery.

About the delivery

The initial delivery contained high-resolution, geo-specific terrain and cultural content representing nine areas of interest in Iraq, including the cities of Baghdad, An Nasiriyah, and Al Aziziyah. These nine areas are located within an area of approximately 270 km x 200 km, ranging from 3431520N to 3698956N and from 427050E to 622213E. The Green Zone area was populated with models of monuments and other landmarks of the area, which were modeled and geolocated from photographs of the Green Zone.

CSI uses the 3D terrain to conduct virtual staff rides of selected Baghdad case studies as part of professional development training for U.S. Army officers.

About the models

To create realistic feature content, MetaVR’s modelers created photo-realistic models of several types of buildings and other cultural features, such as bridges, trees, sewer pipes, street lights, power lines, curbs, fences, culverts, and public monuments. Many of these features were built with photo-realistic textures based on public domain photographs of the Baghdad area. Content from MetaVR's 3D model libraries is also used in the databases. The 3D terrain also included models of complex multi-elevation structures such as cloverleaf overpasses, underpasses, and bridges.

MetaVR VRSG street scene showing some features modeled specifically for the Baghdad 3D terrain.

About the databases

MetaVR subsequently compiled two large terrain databases to combine all of the area and cultural content of the databases described above. One database is 207 km x 190 km and contains the greater Baghdad area, which MetaVR enhanced with geospecific imagery and photo-specific models of the Green Zone area. The other database covers an area of 117 km x 111 km and is centered on An Nasiryah.

Imagery coverage: 60cm color DigitalGlobe Citysphere imagery of Baghdad, 1 meter black and white imagery, color-fused by MetaVR using 15mpp Landsat-based color imagery

Elevation coverage: 30 meter data

Culture: Cultural elements include thousands of photo-realistic buildings (residential, office, and commercial buildings, and mosques) bridges, overpasses, signs, sewer pipes, power lines, street lights, curbs, concrete and wire fences, culverts, a control tower, monuments, runways, water towers and thousands of trees of varying types.

About the training environment

CSI’s training for military officers includes conducting virtual staff rides of selected Baghdad campaigns using MetaVR's terrain databases. The initial use of the databases is for training Command and General Staff College students. Instead of traveling to a site to execute a normal staff ride, students can use VRSG to visualize the terrain. They use the same procedures as in a normal staff ride except that they do not physically "walk" the terrain.