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 March 4, 2015

News: Pentagon: Another BRAC will save money - Pentagon planners have a new pitch to lawmakers skeptical of a fresh round of base closings: We promise we’ll save money this time.   Business: China’s new C919 will begin test flights this year - China’s new superjet will take to the skies for the first time later this...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham

World War II pilot reunited with P-47

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, laughs while under the wing of a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 2...
 
 

News Briefs March 4, 2015

General: 8,500 Islamic State fighters killed in Iraq so far The U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq has killed more than 8,500 Islamic State fighters since its bombing campaign began in August, the top general overseeing the coalition said March 3. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said the Islamic State, which...
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Turning up the heat

Lockheed Martin photograph Lockheed Martin ATHENA laser weapon system defeats a truck target by disabling the engine, demonstrating its military effectiveness against enemy ground vehicles. Latest evolution of Lockheed Martin l...
 
 

USO Visit

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Actor Vince Vaughn speaks with Edwards Airmen and 412th Security Forces Squadron members at the base library before introducing an advance screening of his new movie, “Unfinished Business,” at the base theater Feb. 28.
 
 

Sikorsky S-97 RAIDERô team begins final assembly of second aircraft

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., announced March 4 the start of final assembly of the second S-97 RAIDERô helicopter at the company’s Development Flight Center. Along with a team of industry suppliers, Sikorsky is developing two RAIDERô prototypes to demonstrate the revolutionary new capabilities in improved maneuverability and flight speed. The...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>