In 2014 Enomalies was considered for and awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The topic centered around delivering a Rapid Synthetic Environment Tool for Virtual Battlespace 2 (VBS2). Specifically, the Navy wants to develop tools for Marines and Sailors to produce and modify VBS2 compatible simulation terrain databases, including building interiors, using government or commercial geospatial data or other means.
VBS2 is a Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) simulation system used by the USMC, the Navy and the Army. VBS2 comes with a tool called Visitor 4 that can take data such as Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED), Imagery, and Shapefiles and output a VBS2 formatted database. This tool and other commercially available ones are much too difficult for non-simulation developers to use and some of them are expensive to license. ONR needs a powerful tool to create VBS2 databases that can be used by Marines with limited technical expertise. In addition to building databases, we need tools that will allow instructors and trainees to modify terrain databases to reflect what they see on the ground. This is particularly important for the interior layouts of buildings, which are not typically available from DoD sources. In addition, buildings are often damaged or destroyed in military operations and the database should be able to rapidly reflect that.
Phase 1 of the grant involves developing approaches to enable Marines and Sailors to rapidly build geospecific terrain databases for use in VBS2. In addition to importing available geospatial data, the tools should allow warfighters simple methods to improve and tailor the databases to their needs. This can be software applications, handheld hardware, or a combination.
In response to this request, Enomalies plans to develop and demonstrate a framework that will allow warfighters to rapidly acquire and edit geospecific terrain databases, including both building exterior and interiors. The output of our models will be in standard 3D format, which can be used in a variety of simulation and training software, including VBS2. We propose a two-pronged approach to achieve this goal. One is a novel hand-held 3D camera that supports many modes of operations, from passive stereo image to active 3D scanning, under a variety of operation conditions, from indoor to outdoor. The other is a novel reconstruction-by-recognition modeling pipeline. The outcome of our system is a visually complete 3D model consisting of common objects in a terrain database, such as houses, plants, street lights, mailbox, etc. These objects are also labeled with semantic information, allowing quick editing by novice users. Our team has combined experiences of over 25 years in hardware design and 3D modeling. We leverage our prior results in stereo matching, scene understanding, and model reconstruction to quickly achieve the technical goals by the end of this Phase I project.
The success of this project will address a major hurdle in military simulation and training: the rapid creation and editing of high-fidelity training databases by warfighters, not professional modelers, in the field. This is expected to enable more realistic and effective training for the ever changing environment in a war zone. In addition to military use, we believe our unique hardware and novel software will be attractive for many other applications in which 3D visualization is valuable, from entertainment to e-commerce.