Combat training exercises are risky and dangerous.
But in the age of virtual reality, they don't have to be -- thanks to a local startup that came up with the idea of producing robot simulators that incorporate state-of-the-art virtual reality devices.
(standup ed: mark)
"I'm about to try on the 'virtual shooting combat,' a VR simulation of a military training exercise in a hostage rescue situation. It's one of the closest real life simulations and the prototype is expected to be used in the actual training of soldiers."
The device is equipped with a robot treadmill and motion-capture sensors embedded on the users' shoes and a model M4 that weighs 2.7 kilograms.
"It's an upgraded version of the conventional screen-based simulators in that it uses high-quality VR headsets, or head-mounted displays, and a haptic device that uses human-robot interaction technology."
At the end of the "mission," the users' performance is evaluated based on the number of shots fired, timing, coordination with teammates and where the targets were hit.
Like the "virtual shooting combat" device, the company's "virtual parachuting" simulation is equipped with 360-degree video displays and motion sensors, allowing soldiers to train themselves to free fall and handle their gear in case of a parachute malfunction -- situations that up until now were difficult to imitate due to the risks to the trainees.
The seven-year-old startup Optimus System specializes in digital manufacturing, an integrated approach to manufacturing centered around a computer system.
The company has provided 3D robot simulators for renowned companies including Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics and automobile makers such as Ford and Chrysler.
For military purposes, the company says it's planning to export to the Middle East, Russia, Vietnam and the Philippines, while also providing devices for entertainment and theme parks in Korea and China.
To do that, it hopes to secure up to 3.5-billion U.S. dollars from state and private investments by 2030 for the mass production of its simulators.
"Although there's a high demand for VR-based devices the networking environment and ecosystem for VR companies to collaborate and thrive are still premature in Korea because companies are reluctant to disclose their business ideas and advanced technology, mainly due to concerns about technology leaks. A government-led policy in the right direction would be of great help."
In response to industry demands like these, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced plans earlier this month to create a sustainable ecosystem where VR content platforms can be applied to a broad range of sectors including gaming, sports and tourism.
And it's hoping to invest more than 35-million U.S. dollars to fund the initiative.
Starting 2017, the ministry says it will promote the application of VR content to the areas of education, construction, medical services and commerce.
It has also designated Digital Media City, a state-of-the-art entertainment cluster in western Seoul, as an infrastructure hub for VR tech companies.
The facility will also host a VR theme park and serve as the location for the first Seoul VR Festival, slated for October.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.