Humanoid robot soldiers that come alive in virtual reality (VR) will now be used to train British Army paratroopers for combat.
Troops at 16 Air Assault Brigade will be put through their paces at a special VR training experience at their centers in Colchester, Essex.
The ‘humanoid robotic targets’, called SimStrikers, shoot BB gun-style pellets at the troops at the same time yelling in foreign languages.
In real life, the humanoids appear as mannequins, but in virtual reality, they seem to look like avatars of enemy fighters.
British defense firm 4GD is providing 10 of the SimStrikers to the 16 Air Assault Brigade, which is a unit of the British Army based in Colchester.
‘We are excited to officially introduce SimStriker to the market and continue supporting the British Army with high-tech solutions for impactful and data-driven close combat training,’ said Rob Taylor, founder of 4GD.
‘4GD’s SimStriker takes a bold step away from traditional wooden targets towards a new generation of smart-adversaries which add realism to simulations, can assess the effectiveness of our soldiers with mathematical precision and, ultimately, help boost their urban warfare capabilities.’
The humanoid mannequins can rotate and drop downwards onto their base when they shoot fire or are shot at.
When this happens, in virtual reality it appears that the rival is on the ground after being attacked by the bullets.
High-tech instruments inside the mannequin can also pick up movement, light, and sound, enabling the target to vocally respond.
SimStrikers can shout and scream in different languages, including Russian and Arabic.
In another room in the training complex, troops can also look out a window and see a virtual war zone that replicates real cities.
‘When you get into a building and clear a block of flats, you then go to the windows and look into the virtual world,’ Taylor told the Times.
‘Then you can be in Kyiv and firing javelins and sniper rifles.’
‘The troops in the real, or physical, the world can see it and shoot it (with non-ballistic paint-style ammunition) and it would drop “dead” in the real world and its digital twin will “die” in the virtual world.
‘Anything that happens in the real world happens in the virtual and vice versa.’
4GD aims to enhance the quality of training ‘through the blend of virtual and reality,’ the firm says on its website.
‘4GD are redefining the future of immersive close combat training,’ the firm says.
‘At the heart of this is the drive to achieve operational excellence through immersive, realistic, and flexible facilities.’