Defense

June 13, 2014

Sophisticated simulations help provide improved weapons faster, cheaper

Tags:
Ed Lopez and Cassandra Mainiero
Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

Five screens can display a 300-degree view of realistic scenarios, which can be customized to meet the specific needs of individual projects.

 
As engineers design new weapons or modify existing ones, reducing time and money on development can be critical in providing Soldiers with improved weapons without undue delay.

A new sight may be planned for the M4 rifle, but how well does a prototype design work, and where would be the best place to mount it for the best accuracy and ease of use? Or new, non-lethal weapons may be needed, but will they perform as expected at different ranges?

Using a combination of artificial intelligence, cameras and computers loaded with ballistics data, engineers at Picatinny Arsenal have developed a testing environment that can help to answer many critical questions about the performance of existing weapons and new ones planned.

“People are surprised how realistic our simulated environments look,” said Keith Koehler, a mechanical engineer at the Weapons Technology Branch, part of the Weapons Software Engineering Center. “We had a few friends, who were deployed Soldiers, walk into the scenarios and you could tell to a degree that they lost themselves in the environment.”

The Simulated Weapon Environment Testbed, called SWeET for short, can project custom interior and outdoor scenarios for weapons evaluation. It can also project any weather (rain, snow, sunny, foggy, etc.), location (indoor, outdoor, towns, cities, rooms, jungle, etc.) or time of day onto its five screens, allowing up to four users per screen.

While it can take a few weeks to program new environments into the software, gathering data is instantaneous and records details such as target response, user response, reaction time, and target distance during each simulation.

SWeET works with unmodified weapons – only bolts and magazines are swapped. Compressed air or CO2 is used to simulate recoil.

Weapons that can be currently tested in SWeET are the M4, M11, M9, M16, M249, M240 and weapon accessories. With five cameras and computers behind the screens that display simulated scenarios – and a sixth computer that controls them all – realistic projectile ballistics and travel/impact effects are captured.

Other cameras, placed above the five screens that project a 300-degree view, can monitor a Soldier’s movements and reactions during the various scenarios.

A major advantage of SWeET is that, because it can capture vast amounts of data with prototypes of new weapons, the costs related to manufacturing multiple weapons during the development phase can be greatly reduced.

“Users can come here and test a weapon or the new ammunition before it is even made,” said Clinton Fischer, a mechanical engineer, also with the Weapons Technology Branch. “In traditional development, they would have to first manufacture the weapon or the ammunition for it – and because there is no production line for it – it could be a thousand dollars a round,” Fischer added. “Here, we just make it, shoot, and get data.”

From left, Picatinny Arsenal engineers Keith Koehler, Clint Fischer and James Snover have worked on the Simulated Weapon Environment Testbed project, which uses a combination of artificial intelligence and sophisticated computer-data capture to reduce the time and cost associated with developing or modifying weapons systems.

However, because SWeET projects virtual environments onto two-dimensional screens, Fischer and Koehler also note that scope (or depth) can sometimes be difficult to mimic.

In addition, though testing the weapon’s recoil is safer with SWeET than other testing systems, the recoil simulation is only about 90 percent accurate. Still, overall feedback on SWeET, with its speedy data output and realism, remains positive.

“We had some soldiers come in and verify that our ranges were accurate,” said Koehler. “We would pull up a target at 348 meters and ask ‘How far away did this guy look to you?’ and they say ‘350 meters.’ So, even we didn’t expect that kind of realism.”

In the future, Fischer and Koehler plan to add new simulated weapons to the test bed, such as the M2 heavy barrel machine gun and the Mk19 grenade machine gun.

“There are lots of simulators out there, but they’re limited in their capability and each one is made to train a specific situation,” Koehler said. “One may train how you work in a squad; another is how to train your weapon, or something else. There are simulators for research and development to get information, but they are also limited. With SWeET, we’re trying to take all those types of simulations and combine them. I don’t think there is anything out there yet that can test all these capabilities.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines August 28, 2015

Business: Rafale, Mistral on agenda for Le Drian in Malaysia, India¬†– French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is due to visit Malaysia Aug. 30, with talks expected to cover the Rafale fighter jet and Mistral helicopter carrier, website La Tribune reported. U.S. Army to choose new landing craft next year¬†– In line with the Pentagon’s...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2015

Boeing plans to lay off some Southern California workers Boeing has announced that it plans to lay off employees at its Southern California-based satellite division. The Los Angeles Times reports that the aerospace giant said Aug. 25 that it will lay off as many as several hundred employees at the El Segundo factory. Boeing says...
 
 

Special tactics Airmen killed in hostile incident

Two special tactics airmen, who were deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, were killed near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26. Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, and SSgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, were at a vehicle checkpoint when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms opened fire on them. NATO service members...
 

 

Hurricane Hunters to fly Tropical Storm Erika

The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are operating out of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., flying their state-of-the-art WC-130J Super Hercules into Tropical Storm Erika in support of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew four missions into the tropical storm from their deployed location at St. Croix in the...
 
 
LM-MUOS

U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin ready to launch MUOS-4 Aug. 31

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin are ready to launch the fourth Mobile User Objective System secure communications satellite, MUOS-4, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Aug. 31 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V...
 
 

Pentagon probing alleged distorting of war intelligence

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating an allegation that the military command overseeing the anti-Islamic State campaign distorted or altered intelligence assessments to exaggerate progress against the militant group, a defense official said Aug. 26. The official was not authorized to discuss the probe publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The investigation was...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>