The U.S. Navy is turning to augmented reality to boost the precision and speed of its gunners. According to a report from Defense Systems, the Navy will trial an AR helmet at the annual Trident Warrior exercise this June.
Unified Gunnery System Augmented Reality — GunnAR for short — feeds commands from a gunnery liaison officer alongside weapons system data right into a sailor’s eyes. The software also overlays graphics to identify a target’s nature and position while issuing written orders like “fire” and “cease fire.”
The system was originally just the idea of Lt. Robert McClenningor, but Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality (BEMR) Lab director Heidi Buck helped turn it from concept to reality. She said AR helmets can resolve the communications problems that arise in battle.
“The gunner’s mate has a problem when the shipboard environment is noisy or busy. There is a lot of confusion and a lot of noise when they are firing on targets,” Buck told C4isr.net.
“The gunner’s mate hears the firing commands from someone, who is hearing them from the radio, and those commands are coming from the bridge,” she added. “So it’s like playing telephone with guns firing and wind blowing.”
GunnAR also shows promise in military training. When the helmet showcased at the WEST 2017 Navy conference, fire controlman 3rd class Anthony Cociffi found it helpful for practice.
“The GunnAR is a great trainer,” Cociffi told CHIPS Magazine. “I went through security reaction force alpha and bravo training and there is a similar trainer available, but nothing like what I experienced today. Trainers like this not only save a lot of money because no rounds are expended, but are a lot of fun too.”
The software runs on a smart helmet from Daqri, a Los Angeles-based company developing AR hardware to enhance workplace productivity. Navy officials told Defense Systems in January they were partnering with Daqri to explore AR’s potential in warfare.
Testing for the helmet will take place on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego, California.
Image Credit: Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command