The Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team at the University of Birmingham have taken to the sea with the Royal Marines aboard one of the elite amphibious troops’ Griffon 2400TD Hovercraft, or “LCAC” (Landing Craft Air Cushion).
This significant defence research is addressing how mixed reality – blending the best of the real with the best of the virtual – can be exploited for the future training of defence medics involved in MERT deployments. The early MERT trainer, based on a rapidly inflatable and portable enclosure - equipped with a variety of space-filling objects (including a highly realistic casualty mannequin), was developed to create the illusion of operating on-board a RAF Chinook helicopter. To create further deception of in-flight movement when wearing a virtual reality headset, the mixed reality system used video footage captured during a series of short flights of one of the HIT teams’ drones over a barren region of Dartmoor. This was then projected onto virtual film screens located outside of the simulated cabin area.
Professor Bob Stone, Director of the HIT Team, together with PhD student Vish Shingari, travelled aboard the 1 Assault Group Royal Marines’ Hovercraft to record similar real-world footage. The video material collected will, in due course, be used to enhance the MERT simulator by providing views of the Hovercraft in motion from inside the main cabin and through the cockpit windscreen.
Dr Cheng Qian, HIT Team Research Fellow, has been undertaking the complex task of modifying computer-aided design (CAD) files of the Griffon 2400TD, supplied to the team by Southampton-based Griffon Hoverwork - world-leading designers and manufacturers of hovercraft for a wide range of defence, civilian, and medical applications.