US Navy chooses virtual reality for visualizing battlefields

The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (Patuxent, MD) has taken delivery of a virtual-reality system from FakeSpace (Mountain View, CA) to visualize a digital representation of battlefields. Dubbed VersaBench, the system can visually merge terrain, map, and image data with weather information, sensor coverage zones, database information, and near real-time activity occurring on the battlefield.

May 1st, 1998

US Navy chooses virtual reality for visualizing battlefields

Andrew Wilson

The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (Patuxent, MD) has taken delivery of a virtual-reality system from FakeSpace (Mountain View, CA) to visualize a digital representation of battlefields. Dubbed VersaBench, the system can visually merge terrain, map, and image data with weather information, sensor coverage zones, database information, and near real-time activity occurring on the battlefield.

Using software applications designed for mission planning and rehearsal, the VersaBench displays densely populated urban scenes that are integrated with real terrain extracted from the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. In a typical scenario, the system displays data from LANDSAT, SPOT, Spin-2, digital terrain-elevation data, and data from U2 aircraft with other sources of data. For 3-D simulations that includes real-world data, the system incorporates the Edge Whole Earth Visualization package from the Vision International Group of Autometric (Springfield, VA).

In the design of the system, the projection system was placed below the viewing surface, enabling access to all sides of the display surface. To support the customer`s requirement for changeable perspectives and accessibility to groups in various presentation applications, Fakespace developed a special mechanism that enables the viewing surface to automatically adjust across a range of positions from completely vertical to a horizontal table-like display.

As the first virtual model display to support solid-state projection technology, the VersaBench incorporates two VistaPro Plus projectors from Electrohome (Kitchener, Ont., Canada). These fit under the unit`s tabletop and generate slightly different images for each eye, thus achieving a stereoscopic effect. Based on digital-light-projector technology from Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX), the two 1300-lumen projectors are compatible with video formats and allow images to be viewed in any kind of lighting condition.

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