Pentagon Seeks Virtual Reality Platform to Prepare Troops for ‘Radiological Threats’
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an arm of the US Department of Defense focused on countering weapons of mass destruction, recently issued a solicitation seeking information regarding a potential virtual reality platform that could train and prepare service members for nuclear and radiological threats.
Released July 2, the notice states that officials are looking to obtain “technical information, cost, limitations, and other market information of available augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) capabilities for potential future acquisition initiatives.”
“This SSN [sources sought notice] seeks information on existing solutions for virtual training and testing platforms for DoD combat forces operating in a battlefield nuclear warfare (BNW) environment, or performing radiological threat objects find and interdict operations,” reads the solicitation. “Leveraging AR/VR capabilities will increase the ability to train in relevant situations in a reduced cost environment.”
The notice states that while the platform will not replace any field training programs, it is expected to expose US troops to training exercises that they’d not be able to experience otherwise. It adds that responses from industry officials may include “everything from point radiation sources, area contamination, and nuclear weapon detonation.”
Responses are due August 12.
This, however, is not the first time that the Pentagon has rubbed elbows with the tech industry in hopes of acquiring a virtual reality platform to improve training for American soldiers, nor is it likely to be the last.
In November 2018, Microsoft snatched up a $480 million contract from the US Army to develop the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), a set of virtual reality glasses that provide the wearer with real-time information about the location of both fellow soldiers’ and enemy combatants.
Testing for the IVAS began in April 2019, and it is expected to remain in development through November 2019. IVAS is due to be in use on the battlefield sometime in 2020.