The Australian defence industry is turning to a virtual future to help train its next generation of military personnel. They have enlisted the expertise of researchers from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HRMI) to develop military-grade virtual and augmented reality (VR) technology.
The HRMI has received over $2 million in funding to research how stress affects the brain in emergency situations and discover methods to better prepare new recruits for field operations.
The popularity and usefulness of VR
VR has taken off in a number of industries over the last five years, with Global Market Insights research forecasting compound annual growth of 35 per cent between now and 2024. While it may remain a distant proposition for many businesses, the benefits it brings to everyday upskilling are massive:
- The technology can be used to face trainees with stressful situations to condition appropriate reactions;
- VR allows trainees to safely practice tasks that may be dangerous for unskilled people; and
- It means people can interact with environments they can't physically get to.
The Australian Army has invested more than $2 million into developing VR technology for military training.
Why is VR a good tool for Australian military training?
The four primary benefits of using VR for Australia's defence training are:
- The equipment will allow trainees to experience duress situations in the field to condition their minds to respond appropriately. This can be done in the safety of a training base and will help improve military personnel's decision making;
- This is linked with cadets being able to learn dangerous field skills, like bomb disposal, in a realistic setting without any risk of real danger;
- Military operatives can interact and gather information about an intended destination without being anywhere near it;
- VR allows personnel to more accurately communicate when in the field with home base.
VR technology developer Eugene Nalivaiko has high hopes for the potential this technology can have on how the Australian military develop the next generation of more-skilled personnel, "the idea will be that trainees can master the skill in a measurable situation where we can control the difficulty of the task to ensure they're prepared before moving to a real-world conflict situation," he said.
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