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I/ITSEC 2016: MetaVR outlines terrain improvements

30th November 2016 - 19:00 by Grant Turnbull in Florida

I/ITSEC 2016: MetaVR outlines terrain improvements

Thousands of feet in the air a US Navy P-8 Poseidon peers down to the ocean surface, using its on-board thermal sensors it can see an Iranian vessel laying drift mines in the Strait of Hormuz and is directing a MH-60R helicopter to intercept the vessel.

Considering recent events, it sounds like it could be a real-life mission but this is actually a simulated scenario created by terrain and visualisation specialists MetaVR as part of its display at this year’s I/ITSEC exhibition in Orlando, Florida.  

The simulation – which can utilise a range of highly-detailed naval vessels from the company’s 100-strong military library – is a demonstration of MetaVR’s new 3D ocean simulation, which is a new addition to the company’s flagship product known as the Virtual Reality Scene Generator (VRSG).

The ocean simulation features realistic wave motion, multiple sea states, vessel surface motion, wakes, accurate environment reflections, and ‘bathymetry data’ in round-earth terrain format for shoreline wave shape and opacity.

‘What we are trying to do is show that we are not just doing sea states, we do that, but in a realistic scenario that makes sense,’ said W. Garth Smith, MetaVR’s president and co-owner. ‘You can run these very elaborate distributed operations with different kinds of entities in very large geographic expansive areas’ 

The round-earth terrain also means that when using simulated long-range sensors such as electro-optics, you can see a ship on the horizon as you would see it in the real world. 

Another display sees a high-resolution geospecific 3D terrain of the Somali port city of Kismayo, used for coordinated JTAC and UAS close-air support training. The terrain was built using open source photos from the internet as well as street-level photographs taken within the city.

‘There’s things you can do now without being a big organisation, to get resources in the field to collect data like this, so it’s more accessible than it’s ever been,’ said Smith. ‘It allows [special forces] to have significant familiarity with the area before they go in, it’s not just a game.’

MetaVR has also modelled two military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) sites at Camp Pendleton, built using 30cm per-pixel resolution satellite imagery, 60cm LIDAR elevation data as well as geolocated 3D content created from publicly-available images. 

‘There’s a lot more data on the internet so you can piece it together from different sources and build these sites,’ said Smith.

The company even uses its own small UAS for autonomous aerial surveying, which captures high-resolution 2cm per-pixel resolution images. Instead of procedural generation or using government-sourced imagery, MetaVR is keen to go to much higher-resolution imagery and higher-res elevation data it collects itself.

‘That’s a big discriminator for us, the ability to collect our own imagery, build high-res terrain for the customer and make it run 60hz,’ Smith said. ‘It dramatically reduces cost.’ 

For more from I/ITSEC 2016, see our dedicated news page

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