US Military’s Route Clearance Simulator
Currently, the US Military runs divisions called “Route Clearance Crews” using large retrofitted bulldozers called “HMDS” (Husky Mounted Detection Systems, from Niitek) that travel important routes through unfriendly territory looking for mines and IED’s. As you can imagine, these machines are expensive and delicate. A recent analysis from the military found that 50% of all damages to the ground penetrating radar panels came from simple operator error from users unfamiliar with the equipment. To fix this, the Army partnered up with the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) to create a video-game based training package to train users on proper use of the equipment.
“The joint forces have received the HMDS training package with such high marks that we anticipate its use will far exceed its original intent and capability over the coming years,” said Vigus. The HMDS training package’s success exists in its ability to incorporate holistic interactive multimedia instruction with virtual and live training. The result of this approach to training is a lowcost, agile trainer that builds individual knowledge and skills while promoting collective rehearsals of route clearance operations.
It uses an interesting 3-step “Crawl, Walk, Run” approach to training. Users “Crawl” through multimedia training materials like videos and manuals, before moving through
“Crawl” “Walk” portions where they use video game simulators for virtual test drives of the equipment. Finally, they use “Run” portions of real equipment fitted not with IED sensors, but instead IED simulators showing artificial results to test the operator’s ability to negotiate hazards.
Update 3/7/2011 – Fixed the “Walk” portion, as pointed out in the comments.