Warfare has moved beyond the physical battlefield; today’s battles may be fought and won in the realm of information, space, or cyberspace. And digital wars call for digital warriors.
Modern defence technology includes artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing and IoT. But the two technologies that will revolutionise warfare the most are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
These technologies, which started in gaming (think headsets for VR and Pokemon Go for AR), are now being used to simulate large-scale environments for military training. Goldman Sachs predicts that the military VR/AR industry will generate $1.4 billion in revenues by 2025.
Military training carries huge financial and time costs – and no on-ground training exercise can really prepare trainees for being surrounded by live gunfire. This lack of preparedness costs lives and limbs.
But imagine a training camp where soldiers could use AR and VR at any time to train with virtual enemies in a perfect simulation of a real battlefield. VR military training scenarios are highly detailed and customisable, enhancing cognitive abilities so soldiers are better prepared for the real thing.
Multi-user systems allow soldiers to train together and practise teamwork. They can also include driving and flight simulations and medical training, and even use multi-sensory experiences to simulate harsh environments.
Beyond training applications, AR can also help military personnel with equipment and vehicle repairs by superimposing instructions and diagrams in “Terminator vision” over the parts in need of repair, using smart glasses or mobile technology. This will save time and repair costs.
AR can also be used to deliver digital data instantly to remote users, superimposing it on their field of view to improve task comprehension, situational awareness and knowledge retention. This helps strategists support troops safely from a remote location. And VR can be used to capture detailed data in battle zones so that personnel in remote locations can move around the area virtually and come up with better strategies.
Today’s young soldiers grew up with electronics and adapt readily to using AR and VR technologies in training. The next step will be to deploy these solutions in frontline warfare.