ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Sailors file into the room, their weapons ready and
their adrenaline flowing. They operate as a team in a seamless manner. Their
mission: to secure an active-shooter situation and apprehend the holographic
perpetrator. Commands are given to the shooter, within the augmented-reality
(AR) headset. The shooter surrenders, and the Sailors' mission is
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global TechSolutions program has teamed
with Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren, U.S. Army Combat
Capabilities Development Command and industry partners, Magic Leap Horizons
and Haptech Inc., to develop a breakthrough AR training environment. The
Tactically Reconfigurable Artificial Combat Enhanced Reality (TRACER)
project was recently tested at the Center for Security Forces (CENSECFOR)
Detachment Chesapeake, on Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex, in
Currituck County, North Carolina.
TechSolutions is ONR Global's rapid-response science and technology
initiative that develops prototype technologies, to address problems voiced
by Sailors and Marines, within approximately 12 months.
The TRACER system consists of the Magic Leap One AR headset, a backpack
processor and a Haptech Inc., state-of-the-art instrumented weapon, designed
to deliver realistic recoil. More importantly, TRACER leverages and builds
upon software developed by Magic Leap Horizons as part of the U.S. Army's
Augmented Reality Dismounted Soldier Training (ARDST) project, providing
advanced weapons tracking and allowing trainers to create multiple and
adaptable simulation scenarios for security personnel to experience.
"Our training system is built mostly from commercial-off-the-shelf products,
so we are using widely available gaming gear," said Dr. Patrick Mead, TRACER
project lead from the Human Systems Research and Development branch at NSWC
Dahlgren. "All of these technologies combine together to give us extremely
accurate weapon and movement tracking capabilities as well as highly
immersive simulation visual, auditory and haptic (relating to the sense of
touch) feedback. Ultimately, TRACER provides Sailors with dynamic, engaging
and less predictable training scenarios that would otherwise be too costly
or time consuming to create in the real world."
The mission at CENSECFOR is to train Sailors from divergent career fields in
U.S. Navy security force fundamentals, code of conduct, anti-terrorism and
expeditionary warfare training -- in order to achieve maritime-interdiction
and irregular-warfare superiority.
"We can integrate this AR, virtual training environment into our existing
curriculum, and it allows us to be very reconfigurable," said Cmdr. Kim
Littel, CENSECFOR director of training innovation. "We can go in and we can
change the scenarios, or we can change the opposition forces and the threat
that they pose."
For Sailors who often have to train and remain proficient while at sea,
flexibility is crucial.
According to Littel, the necessary space required to conduct training
operations on a ship are limited and the opportunity to conduct training
without impeding on regular operations is scarce. TRACER will help mitigate
those issues and help increase proficiency and currency in more expansive
"In an environment where we're taking students from the fleet, from their
primary jobs, to train them; we need to maximize the limited time we have to
make them as proficient as possible," said Littel. "This technology provides
a huge advantage by being quickly adaptable to different scenarios,
geographic locations and opposition forces. Using this technology, we can
conduct training almost anywhere, anytime."
TRACER earned rave reviews during the demo at CENSECFOR.
"I would say it's going to bring a lot of value to our training because you
can immediately redo a training operation," said Senior Chief Thomas Pruter,
who is assigned to CENSECFOR and helped design scenarios for the demo. "We
underwent two to three hours of training and we were creating scenarios,
putting people into them, getting sailors to run through those scenarios,
rebuilding them and executing."
He continued. "I think if we continue to submit our ideas, and ONR can
continue to build off them and improve, it will be good for our Sailors and
our security forces."
Watch a video of the demonstration.
Bobby Cummings is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.