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PARIS: CAE pursues real-time simulation enhancements

Flight simulators are growing ever more realistic and forthcoming generations will be even more sophisticated. In the future, simulators will be able to dynamically update environmental and other conditions in real time, says Gene Colabatistto, president of CAE's military products group.

"In order for defence forces to do more in simulation, to move some of the training that they do live, the synthetic environment needs to be much more immersive and realistic," he says. "Some of the technologies we're working on are aimed at trying to make that synthetic environment more like the real world and be able to update that synthetic environment with the latest intelligence or change and do it autonomously."

That means databases would have to be updated in real time. For example, if a US Army helicopter was flying from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in a military simulator, the device relies on highly detailed terrain databases, unlike commercial airliner simulators that use non-specific databases, except around airports. But currently those databases are typically updated every six months, Colabatistto says.

While cloud computing helps with sharing data, especially if everyone is using the same common database standards, it does not update the terrain database in real time. For example, such a system does not update the terrain in the simulation to take into account the changes in the ground if a column of tanks passes over it. While the terrain and traction might be accurate for the first tank, it will not be 100% accurate for the second and subsequent vehicles to pass over the same area. Nor can the system take into account dynamic weather changes. "In the past, there has been no way to update that database in real time," Colabatistto says.

CAE's dynamic synthetic environment technology set takes the company's common databases and allows for the introduction of real-time changes, he says. That includes weather, temperature, humidity or radio frequency environment, or any range of factors that can be modified in real time. For example, in the simulator, a helicopter could take off in fair weather and return to the airfield to find snow on the ground that would accumulate at the proper rate. "DSE allows you to actually make the data stack itself into a simulation," Colabatistto says.

The technology would offer a quantum step in military simulations, he believes.

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