The University of Birmingham’s School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering is developing new ways to train explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams using virtual environments.

The new simulation uses low-cost, freely distributed software and is based on a UK small town, featuring a petrol station, shops, office blocks, a multistorey car park, a railway station, industrial area and a school.

The scenario also guides the trainee through processes such as interacting with witnesses and police, setting up safety cordons and deploying specialised remotely controlled vehicles to deal with the bomb threat.

The new system will support training for military personnel to deal with any devices discovered in homeland settings, providing hands-on experiences with actual EOD equipment.

Future training scenarios could also include operational settings, such as Afghanistan, to help troops facing bomb threats on a daily basis on the front line.

Professor Bob Stone said the system would help develop threat awareness lessons for new recruits to the bomb disposal fraternity.

Ministry of Defence Counterterrorism Science and Technology Centre representative Richard Allen said the simulation scenarios and virtual equipment familiarisation could offer huge benefits to the delivery of EOD training.