Australia’s Navy investigates computer gaming for its training needs

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is investigating the use of video gaming technology to assist in scenario-based training of its sailors.

As part of the pilot project, Invenio Engineering Solutions is providing support to the RAN through the application of its REFINE solution, which is based on Dassault Systèmes‘ 3DVIA and CATIA software.

REFINE – which stands for Real-time Engineering Fleet training Interactive Naval Environment – has been developed by Invenio using 3DVIA Studio Pro and 3DVIA Composer.

These have been used to translate 3D ship design data developed in CATIA into a virtual training tool that operates like a video game.

Invenio managing director Ivan Meisel says 3DVIA Studio Pro is a game engine with a critical advantage – it can directly import the Computer Aided Design (CAD) data that has been used to design and build the ships.

"Other game engines require users to completely remodel the highly detailed CAD data into optimised polygons before importing the information," says Meisel.

"With 3DVIA Studio Pro, the re-modelling of CAD data into optimised polygons is completed automatically in the export process, removing much of the development time and cost.

"Any changes to the source CAD data can be automatically propagated to the 3DVIA Studio project and any training material can be created from it."

Invenio’s REFINE solution specifically addresses naval training requirements by immersing naval cadets in a virtual representation of the ship on which they will serve.

Real-life scenarios that can be replicated include operating navigating equipment, fighting a fire, launching the ship’s boat, responding to damage control or a call to action stations.

Meisel says the RAN is preparing its sailors for success before they ever step onto the deck of a ship.

"There’s a saying in the navy: ‘We need to train the way we fight, because we will fight the way we train,’ and it is widely accepted that one of the most cost-effective methods of achieving this is through simulation.

"REFINE’s online, fully immersive training environment takes significantly less time to achieve results than traditional ‘chalk and talk’ classroom training.

"It is quick and cost-effective to develop, delivers fast and intelligent responses to user needs, and increases sailors’ effectiveness in performing their duties from the first day they step onto a ship.

"REFINE is also potentially a global solution, available when the physical ships it represents are not, due either to cost or service schedules," Meisel says.

Dassault Systèmes’ Australian managing director Gilles Cruanes says the REFINE project demonstrates 3DVIA Studio Pro’s ability to publish to a range of platforms.

"With the proliferation of simulation and training systems available, interoperability of developed content is critical.

"3DVIA Studio Pro provides the flexibility to deliver content to desktop computers, mobile laptops, VR multi-projectors, heads-up display goggles, complete virtual reality centres or handheld devices, including iPads, smart phones and tablets," he says.

"Through SCORM outputs, 3DVIA Studio Pro delivers content that can be handled within any chosen learning management system.

"With its compliance to High Level Architecture (HLA), 3DVIA Studio Pro produces content that can interoperate with other simulations in real-time, forming part of a simulation federation training environment."