The Royal Australian Navy is teaming up with Invenio Engineering Solutions on a huge undertaking, to train sailors almost exclusively with video games of a sort.
While using video game technology to train is not a new concept, Invenio and the RAN are using their software to go more in-depth and interactive than previous software program have allowed. Invenio is also developing ways to make simulation training cheaper and more effective.
Invenio uses REFINE - Real-time Engineering Fleet training Interactive Naval Environment - to create the programs that the sailors are using. 3D information about the real-life ships is translated into the simulators, providing a realistic, detailed environment in which the sailors will train. The game engine used to create these simulators, called the 3DVIA Studio Pro, imports the 3D designs directly , while other game engines don't allow for automatic import of this information. The automatic import is less expensive and time-consuming, and allows for a more comprehensive simulated environment All these combine to make video game simulators a more attractive option for military training.
This video shows exactly how in-depth the interaction can get; because 3DVIA uses CAD to import schematics and engineering specifications, even minor parts of the ship can be inspected and repaired using complete technical read-outs. The program records the results of sailors' interactions for future reference.
Realism is essential when training- simulations are exceedingly more effective for teaching and learning both combat and survival methods than anything learned or taught in a classroom. According to an article in the Australian paper PACE "There's a saying in the navy: 'We need to train the way we fight, because we will fight the way we train,' and it is widely accepted that one of the most cost-effective methods of achieving this is through simulation."
Several real-life scenarios can be run in the current iteration of the simulations, some of which are also shown in the video above; sailors can fight a fire, respond to damage control, and respond to a call to action stations realistically using REFINE. Dassault Systèmes, the software company which developed 3DVIA, hopes to be able to publish the software onto multiple platforms in the future. The Australian managing director of Dassault, Gilles Cruanes, explains: "3DVIA Studio Pro provides the flexibility to deliver content to desktop computers, mobile laptops, VR multi-projectors, heads-up display goggles, complete virtual reality centres or handheld devices, including iPads, smart phones and tablets," This will make military training possible regardless of location, and will make it easier to adapt based on limited access to specific types of technology. Multi-platform software will also make simulation training an even more cost-effective option, as it will not always be necessary to purchase new hardware to run the simulations.