The US Military Is Building A Metaverse

August 7, 2022 11:22 pm

The United States military is building its own metaverse which raises a big question, should we be scared?

In the month of May, the United States military conducted a metaverse experiment involving two fighter pilots wearing AR headsets.

The two pilots successfully conducted several maneuvers that involved refueling aircraft and others performing high-altitude tasks in Berkut 540 jets.

Besides practicing maneuvers, the US military has also created an augmented reality that creates simulations of Russian and Chinese fighter jets.

Trump previously stated the next big war will be in space but will we ever see a war in the metaverse?

Wired broke the story and had these details to share:

ON MAY 10, two fighter pilots performed a high-altitude proto-metaverse experiment. A few thousand feet above the desert of California, in a pair of Berkut 540 jets, they donned custom AR headsets to connect to a system that overlaid a ghostly, glowing image of a refueling aircraft flying alongside them in the sky. One of the pilots then performed a refueling maneuver with the virtual tanker while the other looked on. Welcome to the fledgling military metaverse.

It isn’t only Silicon Valley that’s gripped by metaverse mania these days. Just as tech companies and corporations are scrambling to develop strategies for virtual worlds, many defense startups, contractors, and funders are increasingly talking up the metaverse, even if its definition and utility aren’t always clear.

The key technologies needed for the metaverse—augmented and virtual reality, headmounted displays, 3D simulations and virtual environments built by artificial intelligence—are already found in the defense world. The result is a lot less polished, cutesy, and spacious than Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual world vision, but that’s partly the point. And there’s a good chance that the underlying tech could take off, even if it stutters in the civilian realm.

A mix of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and video game graphics, for instance, have enabled fighter pilots to practice dogfighting against virtual opponents, including Chinese and Russian warplanes, while pulling several Gs. Red 6, the company that’s developing the technology, says this delivers a far more realistic test of a pilot’s abilities than a conventional flight simulator. “We can fly against whatever threat we want,” says Daniel Robinson, founder and CEO of Red 6. “And that threat could be controlled either by an individual remotely or by artificial intelligence.”

Interesting Engineering got the scoop too:

While retail giants, financial institutions, and tech companies look forward to being part of the internet revolution called the metaverse, the U.S. military has already been working to build its own version of this digital world, Wired reported.

When one talks about the metaverse, it usually paints a picture in their mind where people meet and greet in a digital world as Mark Zuckerberg wants us to. By declaring his intent to create this digital realm, Zuckerberg managed to grab global attention away from his social media company and got scores of other companies interested in this brand new world.

Businesses big and small have rushed to be a part of the metaverse, snapping up virtual plots of land for millions of dollars. But looking beyond the glitter of new terminologies, one finds that the building blocks of this new world are not that new. The augmented and virtual reality environments, the displays on headsets, and three-dimensional simulations have been around for quite some time in the military setup.

For the last decade, virtual reality has been an integral part of pilot and sailor training in the U.S. military. With each piece of military equipment costing millions of dollars, defense forces have always relied on simulated environments to train their personnel. The technology also allows the users to test the equipment to their absolute limits and work endlessly to improve human skills.

Defense contractor Boeing uses augmented reality (AR) to train its mechanics for hours before they touch a naval plane for general maintenance purposes, while the U.S. Army signed a nearly $22 million deal with Microsoft for the delivery of over 120,000 headsets based on its HoloLens technology much before Facebook became Meta.

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