Aptima has partnered with the US Army Research Institute to develop a new training game that will strengthen teaming skills for manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operations.

Funded through a department of the army rapid innovation fund (RIF) contract, the Night Vision Tactical Trainer-Shadow (NVTT-Shadow) is designed to prepare unmanned aerial system (UAS) operators to effectively communicate and coordinate with pilots of manned helicopters, ground commanders, and other manned assets.

Aptima NVTT-Shadow project lead and operations vice-president Kevin Sullivan said: "Despite the term ‘unmanned,’ aerial systems require human operators, who increasingly are doing more than simply flying them."

Developed in collaboration with Trideum, ASTi, KINEX and Imprimis, the simulator uses the army’s ONESAF game engine and commercial-off-the-shelf speech recognition technology, which provides the army with a cost-effective, readily accessible training vehicle that can be used from any internet-connected computer.

"Despite the term ‘unmanned,’ aerial systems require human operators, who increasingly are doing more than simply flying them."

The simulator enables an individual UAS operator to practise communications and coordination in teaming scenarios by incorporating synthetic entities and natural language processing that emulates voice and chat interactions, without requiring live pilots and other participants.

In addition, the trainer has been integrated with the company’s PM Engine software. The software features algorithms, tailored for natural language processing, that can evaluate trainee communications for completeness, accuracy, order, brevity, and timeliness of the interactions and enhances their learning.

The software automates objective performance measurements without the need for live observation. It also provides instructors with detailed assessments for after action reviews.

NVTT-Shadow has already been demonstrated and will now be evaluated at the UAS Training Battalion at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, US.

Real-time collaboration between human pilots and UAS operators is claimed to be advancing combat capabilities, in addition to improving situational awareness, intelligence gathering, target acquisition, and force protection.