An inexpensive underwater mine countermeasures simulator with real-time 3D after action review

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Abstract

This paper presents the results of a concept capability demonstration pilot study, the aim of which was to investigate how inexpensive gaming software and hardware technologies could be exploited in the development and evaluation of a simulator prototype for training Royal Navy mine clearance divers, specifically focusing on the detection and accurate reporting of the location and condition of underwater ordnance. The simulator was constructed using the Blender open source 3D modelling toolkit and game engine, and featured not only an interactive 3D editor for underwater scenario generation by instructors, but also a real-time, 3D After Action Review (AAR) system for formative assessment and feedback. The simulated scenarios and AAR architecture were based on early human factors observations and briefings conducted at the UK's Defence Diving School (DDS), an organisation that provides basic military diving training for all Royal Navy and Army (Royal Engineers) divers. An experimental pilot study was undertaken to determine whether or not basic navigational and mine detection components of diver performance could be improved as a result of exposing participants to the AAR system, delivered between simulated diving scenarios. The results suggest that the provision of AAR was accompanied by significant performance improvements in the positive identification of simulated underwater ordnance (in contrast to non-ordnance objects) and on participants' description of their location, their immediate in-water or seabed context and their structural condition. Only marginal improvements were found with participants' navigational performance in terms of their deviation accuracies from a pre-programmed expert search path. Overall, this project contributes to the growing corpus of evidence supporting the development of simulators that demonstrate the value of exploiting open source gaming software and the significance of adopting established games design techniques in delivering highly engaging scenarios to defence training communities.

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Stone, R., Cooke, N., Snell, T., & Snell, T. (2016). An inexpensive underwater mine countermeasures simulator with real-time 3D after action review. Defence Technology, 12(5), 367–379. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dt.2016.06.001

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