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The United States military isn’t sleeping on the Metaverse. A new report from Wired details how pilots are already using AR helmets to practice mid-air refueling maneuvers and gives an overall look at just how different the Metaverse might look to soldiers training for battle.
One thing is clear — any soldier familiar with the cartoony Meta Quest vision of the Metaverse will find themselves in a very different environment when training in virtual reality on the military’s dime. As Wired writer Will Knight puts it, this is a “less polished, cutesy, and spacious” VR setting than civilians can imagine.
“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.‘”
Wired’s report details how various military branches have been developing Metaverse-related projects for years, with tweaks vital to giving users proper training, including lower latency and more reliable equipment.
There’s no way to write about the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines using VR without mentioning the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). After all, the internet itself began as the agency’s Arpanet in the late 60s. Wired describes how in 2020, DARPA’s AI dogfighting project had a real pilot face off against an AI opponent. The plane piloted by the AI “learned how to outmaneuver and outgun an opponent through trial and error. The AI pilot eventually developed superhuman skills and was able to beat its human opponent every time.”
The military Metaverse, for now, is mostly experimental. However, it’s only a matter of time before soldiers will head into battle with heads-up displays feeding them real-time, on the ground data. Real life will be closer to a fully immersive video game than we can truly imagine.
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