Role of AR in military applications

Augmented Reality

Defense is one of the most crucial sectors for a country which not only infers better economic growth but also internal peace in the country. The challenges that defense in any country faces on an everyday basis is extremely diversifying and can put them in a situation that’s beyond imagination. Hence, any advantage that gives them edge matters. 

Living in an age of technological revolution, a stronger defense is not just defined by soldiers but the kind of technology that the forces adopt and implement. As we discuss the latest technologies, it is impossible to ignore Augmented Reality. According to the report by the firm Visiongain, the market for augmented reality in military services is expected to grow 1.59 billion USD high by the end of 2019. 

Several countries have started acquiring different kinds of AR wearables. As per Bloomberg, Microsoft has secured a $480 million contract with the US Military to supply as many as 100,000 HoloLens augmented reality devices. These incidents make the world stand up and take notice and soon the rest of the world could be using it as well. 

In this article, we will converse about the different techniques related to augmented reality in military and how it can help in the betterment of the defense forces. 

AR for Effective training in all the departments of defense 

The strength and power of any defense force depends on the kind of training they go through. Augmented reality offers a world of training formats and opportunities that have become an important part of the training for the defense forces. It isn’t always possible to create a real environment of a battleground for training purposes. Hence, defense trainers can make an AR setup that resembles a similar scenario such as Synthetic Training Environment to mimic a real battlefield environment. 

This technology has also been used for medical training, flight simulation, and boot camps too. It is ever-growing popularity is due to several reasons. Firstly, the trainees can be imparted the same training multiple times without any difficulty. They can pause, reset and stop the training based on the requirement. Lastly, it reduces the training cost and that too without any injury. 

Collaboration  

Even during war situation or during operations, AR can be used to communicate better with the members in control room. By communication, we’re not just referring to the verbal communication, rather the defense personnel can share the exact situation that they are facing with the crew through the advanced technology. For the crew members, it is as if they are in the field themselves and would be able to study everything is great detail. 

Heads-Up Display for the Soldiers 

This falls under the category of Tactical Augmented reality (TAR) and resembles the widely known AR smart glasses. Though, performance-wise, TAR is way ahead. This system mounted on the helmets of the soldiers serves in all-weather conditions. It is a small, one-inch-by-one-inch eyepiece that overlays a map onto the soldier’s field of vision, which instantly offers GPS-tracked data along with target information. Moreover, it comes with an in-built wireless network so that any soldier can share the same information with his/her team members. 3D enabled demonstration of an equipment is also possible with AR. It enables the personnel to understand the equipment better and the implantation part becomes easier. This is like a cost saving simulation which doesn’t even require the equipment. 

Fighter pilots can use HUD (head-up displays) for better performance 

Flying a fighter jet isn’t child’s play. The Pilot needs to be focused as even a minute distraction or miss could be the end, especially during wars. Amidst these ever-changing circumstances, technical defects of the fighter jet usually aren’t taken care of accurately. In such conditions, HUD can act as an assistant to the fighter pilot. How? Let’s take a look. 

Elements of the engine and their performance parameters can be directly displayed on the HUD mounted on the head of the pilot. It allows the soldier to keep him/her updated about the current performance parameters of the jet. 

Other than this, it releases the pressure of jet failure from the mind of the pilot and allows one to focus on eradicating the odds from either side. It also increases the efficiency as well as the credibility of both the fighter plane and the pilot. 

Maintenance: Timely maintenance of the existing equipments is crucial because you don’t require these equipments on a daily basis for obvious reasons. Rather than having an expert visit the location to conduct a test, through AR it is possible to check the equiments from remote locations and saving the data effortlessly. 

AR in naval navigation 

We are all aware of the Titanic tragedy that resulted in several deaths and revenue loss. The Naval force cannot afford such mistakes, especially while the war is on. In the naval field, navigation is the most essential tool. Using augmented reality for the naval navigation can superimpose the best route on the display through which the captain should travel. Hence it saves cost and time simultaneously. 

Repairing the failed weapons 

Suppose a team of soldiers are on a battlefield and somehow the important weapons such as artillery or cannon fail. It’s a terrible situation in any battle which has the potential to turn the tables. In these kinds of circumstances, there is urgency for an expert to solve the issue and restart the weapon. This is where AR steps in and despite the need of a physical expert can fix the problem with a wearable device comprising of the whole data for the maintenance of the particular weapon. This will enable readily available solutions even for any non-trained soldier to easily fix it. Apart from this, if there does arise the demand for an expert; one can utilize AR remote assistance as an aid. 

Augmented Reality Sandtable (ARES) 

Let’s talk about military augmented reality applications. ARES’ are used for planning in military operations. The digital overlay offers an improved battlefield representation as well as a scaled representation of enemy troops so that one can plan the attack accordingly. Army research laboratory of the USA has already launched an AR-based sand table in the year 2015. 

Its main advantages are as follows: 

  • Wider terrain selection
  • Gesture control
  • Real-time terrain generation and scalability

Conclusion 

AR devices and systems are slowly making an entry into the world of military. It is continuously proving its supremacy in almost every sector including defense. Like every new technology, it has its set of pros and cons which can be worked upon over time. The kind of progress AR has shown in this short span is remarkable. Though, it is still in the nascent stage but the prospects are undoubtedly bright.