The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland is now testing a unique virtual reality system to project realistic imagery of simulated combat environments.
RAVE II™, configured by Fakespace Systems Inc, is part of the Tactical Environment Simulation Facility at ARL, which consists of two simulators. The first is the Hostile Environment Simulator, which features a 50,000-watt, 33-speaker system capable of 155-decibel impulse noise effects.
The other environment, called the Immersive Environment Simulator, integrates RAVE II’s three detachable, large-scale stereoscopic rear-projection modules with motion tracking, 44 speakers, and an omni-directional treadmill to allow soldiers to literally run and move in any direction within virtual hostile terrain and combat conditions.
Both environments make extensive use of Christie Mirage 6000 DLP™ projectors, which can function either as active or passive stereoscopic displays.
“The Immersive Environment is made up of three 12.5 feet by 10 feet screens, each equipped with a Christie Mirage projector in a rear-projection design,” said Joseph Mazurczak, Electronic Engineer at ARL. “The Hostile Environment has two more Mirage 6000s. Each one can be used either for multimedia presentations or active stereo projection.”
“We’re studying how soldiers use equipment in combat zones,” said Bruce Amrein, Chief of the Visual and Auditory Processes Branch at the Army Research Laboratory. “The first phase is to validate the research we’ve done in these virtual environments vs. the behavior of soldiers in actual field conditions. The system just went on-line in January, and we’re still obtaining software to operate it.”
Because the projection system uses buttedge (seamed) panoramic imaging, it was important to achieve a high degree of image consistency across all three screens. “We are very pleased with the color uniformity on the Christie Mirage 6000s,” said Amrein. “The screens are set up with a knife-edge point of contact, and projected images run right to that edge. When properly aligned, the two seams aren’t really noticeable and the image transition across the seams is a perfect blend.”