New Technologies: VR & Military

US Air Force soldiers wearing virtual reality (VR) headsets closely monitor the desert landscape shown on a 3D map. The soldier saw a fast-moving object in his eyes. The algorithm that detects it warns that it looks like a cruise missile. The soldier verified the data and sent a command using the hand controller.

This is not a story in the game. At the command of the soldier, a model of a cruise missile was actually shot down at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The experiment, conducted in September 2020, is a demonstration of the “war of the future” that defense technology company Anduril is looking at. One of Anduril’s co-founders is Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014. The creator of the VR headset ” Oculus Rift,” he is also known as the man who sparks political debate.

Development of ” OS for war “

Anduril’s aim is to create an operating system (OS) for war. Allow soldiers to use artificial intelligence ( AI ) to collect information from systems that use wireless or telephone lines, and to take action based on that information, all in one place.

Now is the perfect time to market such a system to the Pentagon. For the past five years, senior military officials and successive Secretaries of Defense have longed for software technology in the tech industry and have sought to attract Silicon Valley companies more than Washington, DC-related companies.

More than 60 companies, including Amazon, are participating in the program, and each company will sign a contract with the military for up to $ 950 million over five years. Amazon declined to comment on the contract with the military.

Response time from minutes to seconds

The purpose of this Air Force program is to increase the connectivity of military systems using cloud computing and wireless links. This should allow the commander to deal with difficult situations more quickly. There is no waiting time for soldiers to collect judgment materials from sources such as radar and communicate them by voice call or chat.

The September experiment was conducted on the assumption that the United States was the target of Russian cruise missiles, using an unmanned target aircraft as a cruise missile. In this experiment, many other moving objects such as fighters, robot dogs, and drones that look like 5G communication base stations are used. One of them, a simulated missile, was shot down by a howitzer that used experimental “ultra-fast” shells.

ABMS’s flashy official video features a lot of ultra-high performance hardware. Dunlap was most impressed by the fact that networking, software, and new AI algorithms helped respond to hostilities that took minutes in seconds. Some AI experts are worried that AI will play a more central role in military decisions in harsh conditions, and are worried about major damage and fatal mistakes. But Dunlap says the Air Force is developing a way to evaluate the performance of the algorithm.

Increasing Pentagon and Private Sector Collaboration

In the past, when Google was developing an algorithm for analyzing drone images in a Pentagon program, ethical concerns led to a large-scale internal protest. This led the company to limit its efforts on defense projects. Companies such as Anduril, Amazon, Microsoft, and the just-listed data analytics software company Palantír say they have talented engineers who are proud to work on national security.

Immersive Wisdom, a 13-employee startup based in Boca Raton, Florida, is one of them. The company is supported by Venture Capital (VC) In-Q-Tel, which is operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and provided VR headsets and software for this missile training. With this software, people in four separate locations can stand next to each other as avatars at the Virtual Command Center.