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The Army's Future Combat Systems Program Deploys RGB Spectrum's Multi-Channel Digital Recording Systems
March 15, 2005 Alameda, CA - The U.S. Army is engaged in a major joint forces transformation project called Future Combat Systems (FCS) to be fielded by 2010. The FCS program will field lighter, more effective and rapidly deployable battle tanks, fighting vehicles, and personnel carriers, employ new fleets of robotic vehicles and combat support systems, and utilize advanced technologies for enhanced battlefield command-and control communications. The FCS program is currently in initial development phases.One component of FCS development is the MultiCell and Dismount Command and Control (M&D C2) program. M&D C2's purpose is to develop an integrated battlefield command environment comprised of multiple mobile tactical operations centers. The M&D C2 battlefield environment links personnel carriers, dismounted soldiers, unmanned air vehicles, and other Army vehicles, with the mobile command and control centers. The program endeavors to assess the efficacy of newly devised battlefield communications systems utilizing leading edge digital technologies. As the "proof of concept" system experiments proceed, the program identifies and attempts to resolve problems that arise in the planning, collaboration, and execution of these systems. The M&D C2 data collection system required a method of real time digital video and audio recording that could record and replay intricate detail and precise symbology with high quality reproduction. The DoD's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contracted David H. Pollock Consultants, Inc., DHPC, to conduct the development, experiment, and evaluation capabilities of new battlefield communications and command-and-control systems. According to Jim Seward, Program Manager for DHPC, "In our lab, we have developed an advanced command and control system, called the Battle Command Support Environment (BCSE), that integrates multiple battlefield communications and data within a single interface and is fully collaborative across the various forces within a networked environment to enhance a commander's decision-making processes."
|Figure 1 - The U.S. Army's Future Combat Systemsdevelopment programs use RGB Spectrum's DGx real time digital recording systems to record high resolution graphics, sensor data,and reconnaissance visuals during live battlefield simulations. (U.S. Army photo)|
"We study the battlefield concepts of situational awareness, decision making, control of subordinate assets, force effectiveness, and system performance. These experiments require rigorous data collection and analysis to provide quantifiable information on both, the performance of prototype software and interface as well as the human performance and force effectiveness within simulated test environment force-on-force scenarios. Following an exhaustive review of various digital recording technologies, we selected RGB Spectrum's DGx™ real time digital recording systems (see Figure # 1)."
The M&D C2 lab is equipped with a variety of simulators for the BSCE environments. The M&D C2 lab uses a total of seven DGx systems record to record each three hour simulation exercise and the one hour planning session prior to the exercise execution.
|Figure 2 - Soldiers using Driver/Gunner stationwithin a simulated Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV)|
|Figure 3 - Infantry Soldier interfacing with systemsin an immersed simulated environment|
Five DGx digital recording systems from RGB Spectrum are used with the Dismount Infantry Simulator which simulates an Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) composed of eleven personnel; one driver, one gunner/vehicle commander, and nine infantry dismounts (see Figure # 2). Three of these DGx systems digitally record the visuals and data presented to vehicle personnel. The DGx inputs include digital maps and 3-dimensional terrain and topology graphics and visuals from the soldiers' helmet-mounted displays depicting a forward view of the battlespace with overlaying symbology at 1280 x 1024 resolution, as well as live audio. The additional two DGx systems are used in the Combat Arms Virtual Environment, a computer-based simulation room where infantry dismounts are immersed to perform battlefield operations with live weapons and sensors (See Figure # 3).
The lab's second ICV is a command-and-control vehicle (C2V) simulator which contains the Commander Support Environment. The C2V simulator personnel include one driver, three systems operators, one gunner, and the squad commander. The C2V utilizes two DGx systems to record live situational awareness and sensor information. The DGx units record a total of eight real time inputs from the C2V simulator's four operators stations, each comprised of two displays. DGx inputs include video from unmanned air vehicles and unmanned ground vehicles, graphical data from acoustic and seismic sensors, surveillance image captures of the battle theater at up to 1280 x 1024 resolution, and live audio. These sensors are used to detect enemy force movement while the UAV and UGVs provide command personnel with visual observations for threat assessment and tactical decision making to direct battlefield assets in a collaborative manner from the C2V vehicle (See Figure # 4 and # 5).
|Figure 4 - C2V Prototype|
|Figure 5 - Vehicle Commander and subordinate operators during a simulated battle|
During the simulation exercises, personnel monitor the scenarios as they unfold and maintain logs of specific events and their corresponding times. At the conclusion of the exercises, program and monitoring personnel place event marks on the respective DGx recordings, create topic areas for debriefing, and compile review logs in preparation for the After Action Review (AAR). In the AAR, the DGx recordings, consisting of 28 synchronized images, are replayed and routed through a matrix switcher to the AAR facility's four rear-screen projectors for display onto four 100-inch screens (See Figure # 6). The DGx recordings are displayed on each large screen in a four-image, quad configuration. During the AAR, the DGx recordings are used to give instructors and command level personnel a clear and effective picture of the actions and operations of the dismounts and vehicles on the battlefield.
|Figure 6 - Four 100-inch screens used during After-Action-Review (AAR) of experiment Record Runs|
Seward remarked, "We have a very favorable performance assessment of the DGx recording systems. Even with small text and fine symbology, the DGx delivers faithful, sharp reproduction. We are impressed with its image quality, much better than any other system we had evaluated."
David H. Pollock Consultants, Inc., DHPC, provides technical consulting to the Department of Defense. DHPC offers technical and analytical advice and research services in intelligence and information warfare, modeling and simulation of sensor systems, inter-platform data communications, and information integration. DHPC, Inc. is headquartered in Westwood, New Jersey. For more information, call 201-722-0615 or visit www.dhpconsultants.com.
RGB Spectrum® is a leading designer and manufacturer of videographic and multimedia hardware subsystems. Products include the View™ family of video windowing systems, the RGB/Videolink® line of scan converters, the DGy™ digital recording system, Quadra® universal scaler and synchronizer, SynchroMaster® keyers and overlayers and SuperWall™, ComputerWall® and MediaWall® multi-screen display controllers. RGB Spectrum is based in Alameda, California, and can be reached at 510-814-7000 and on the internet at http://www.rgb.com.