Members of the Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team were recently taken to sea to capture video footage to enhance the simulated content of the team’s Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) trainer, under development for the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine.

This is an important defence research contract being undertaken by the School of Engineering’s Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team. Currently, the MERT trainer, which is based on a detailed 3D recreation of a Chinook helicopter, uses video footage, captured during a series of short flights of one of the Team’s drones over a barren region of Dartmoor, and projected onto 2D “billboards” – in effect virtual film screens – located outside of the simulated cabin area.  This helps to create the illusion of an external ‘in-flight’ view for the trainees, who will be wearing the latest in VR headsets.

On this occasion, Professor Bob Stone, Director of the HIT Team, and PhD student Vish Shingari travelled on board a Royal Marines Mark V Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) to record similar footage, but in this case more relevant to a sea transfer and beach landing. 

Royal Marines Mark V Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel docked

With the support of personnel from 10 Training Squadron 1 Assault Group Royal Marines, based at Her Majesty’s Naval Base in Devonport, the HIT Team researchers were able to attach two waterproofed GoPro cameras to the outside of the LCVP cabin windows, together with two 360 (panoramic) cameras, one over the wheelhouse and the forward cabin door area.  The LCVP left its mooring in the northern area of the Naval Base and then proceeded along the River Tamar and its estuary, known as the Hamoaze, out across Plymouth Sound and past the City’s famous Breakwater.

Royal Marines Mark V Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel lowering its landing ramp

On the return journey, the LCVP approached the small beach area at Barn Pool (historically the departure point of HMS Beagle in 1831, carrying Charles Darwin), lowering its ramp before running ashore.

This exercise was the first of a number of similar excursions on military vehicles, enabling the research team to develop appropriate media to increase the “believability” of the MERT simulation.  Other platforms currently being scheduled into the early research programme include a Royal Marines hovercraft and an Army Mastiff land vehicle.