Designing the Building Blocks of Simulators with MAK ONE, and What’s Next?

Koh Kim Leng

Chief Systems Architect, Training & Simulation Systems, ST Engineering

In conjunction with Virtual I/ITSEC 2020, ST Engineering is exhibiting in MAK’s Virtual Showroom and hosting live sharing sessions of our iconic simulation training solutions – the Air Distributed Mission Trainer, Integrated Ship Bridge Simulator, and Driver Training Simulation System for the air, sea, and land domains.

MAK Technologies, a subsidiary of ST Engineering, has developed MAK ONE, an open and modular product suite that can be used in two ways; together to form an integrated training environment, or independently to provide networking, simulation, visualisation, and terrain components that fit into any simulation system architecture.

We spoke to Mr. Koh Kim Leng, Chief Systems Architect of Training & Simulation Systems, ST Engineering, to pick his brain about designing simulators for training and learning using the MAK ONE suite of products.

Agil Blog : How long has ST Engineering been using MAK ONE?

We began using products of MAK ONE for 20 years, way back in 2000 – before the “MAK ONE” suite had even been branded as such – adopting the very first version of the MAK RTI (Run Time Infrastructure) based on HLA (High Level Architecture) standard specifications published by the US Department of Defence.

As MAK’s products evolved, we also expanded the breadth of products deployed in our systems. These range from interoperability to the Computer Generated Forces (CGF) engine and visualisation rendering engine, which constitute key elements of the MAK ONE suite as we know it now.

Agil Blog : How has ST Engineering leveraged MAK ONE’s software to build the simulators?

If you look at a simulation system as a sum of its parts – we build the underlying simulation software components that constitute the platform, the instructor exercise control station, and the ability to interoperate with multiple simulator units. In each sub-system, MAK ONE’s software are the component-level building blocks to construct the entire simulation system.

Simulation Engine

A powerful simulation engine, VR-Forces comes with simulation models for hundreds of battlefield units and systems. We use it to generate the synthetic activity and CGF in a virtual battlefield space that enables army battalions to engage in blue-red force wargaming, simulate maritime traffic that appears in busy shipping straits, or create an air to air combat training scenario between multiple aircraft.

Immersive Visualisation

For immersive visuals, we use VR-Vantage IG, MAK’s image generation and rendering engine used in all components for 3D rendering and 2D tactical maps – ensuring consistent displays throughout a simulator system.

First-Person Role-Playing Stations

When adapted for a defence scenario for first-person training, we integrate VR-Engage to power the individual role-playing stations. For example, trainees get to play the role of a first-person dismounted soldier; they can also operate as a driver, gunner, or commander of a military vehicle or pilot of a military aircraft. Trainees can navigate and interact with the synthetic environment and simulation characters for individual training or participate in team-based tactical drills made possible by integrating multiple role-playing stations.

Interoperability

By adopting native support for the DIS (Distributed Interactive Simulation) standard and HLA standards, our simulators easily adhere to the various simulation standards that our customers require. It also enables us to build flexible, interoperable services and protocols.

As we adopt MAK ONE in our solution architecture, our systems not just adhere to the standards and protocols that the industry recognises, it is also an open architecture platform. This allows users to enhance capabilities at the component level and enjoy high interoperability standards - connecting the new simulation system to your existing training systems, which is highly valued by our customers.

Agil Blog : What are the considerations and benefits of designing future-proof architecture?

A key consideration to future-proofing is the ability to design solutions with an open and modular architecture. The main benefit is that it not only allows potential future components to be integrated; it also facilitates the ease of replacing existing components that can be independently upgraded with new features.

Another key consideration is the ability to keep up with industry standards (e.g., HLA Evolved, C2Sim) and weave in new technologies. In this aspect, we have always been at the forefront of adopting standards and introducing innovative solutions that incorporate new technologies.

We are capable of designing a future-proof architecture as we have honed our expertise from decades of experience in developing simulation system solutions and architectures.

Agil Blog : What do you foresee in the next wave of simulation technologies?

I foresee great potential in some areas that could soar independently in this domain. Let’s take what one would have observed from recent conventions and conferences on the vast deployment of innovative Virtual Reality (VR) applications and some AR (Augmented Reality) applications. With the advent of technology, AR and MR (Mixed Reality) solutions will be the next wave that will dominate simulation training solutions and may even displace VR.

Another area that will see enhancement will be on equipment that physically tracks fingertip movement and attention span of individuals. These developments will lead to smart machine learning algorithms that could spawn predictive or prescriptive analytics that not only details what has gone wrong during the session, but helps to predict or recommend the best course of action. The thinking behind on what to train and how to train would be radically changed.

We are looking forward to the new MAK Legion scalability framework that will be launching in the early 2021. It has the capability to support unprecedented large-scale simulation training with millions of entities.

Realism is perceived by our senses, and the new wave of mixed reality solutions heightens the experience by blending what is virtual and real so that it is as real as it gets. Immersing trainees in such environments help train muscle memory and procedural skillsets. With advanced analytics and a framework that supports training at a larger scale, these game-changing technologies will elevate training capabilities to the next level, helping defence forces train in a precise, relevant and more effective manner.

Join us at our webinar sessions with our expert line-up of presenters, who will be sharing about how we have designed our simulators for air, sea and land training here.

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