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‘Manned-Unmanned Teaming’ Skills

‘Manned-Unmanned Teaming’ Skills

Aptima Team Develops Training Game Capability for UAS Operator ‘Manned-Unmanned Teaming’ Skills

Innovative simulator developed with Army Research Institute employs natural language processing and performance measurement for single-player training

Woburn, MA, April 20, 2015 – Behind the aviation platforms that make up today’s Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) operations, are the human pilots and operators. Increasingly it’s their real-time collaboration that continues to advance combat capabilities, improving situational awareness, intelligence gathering, target acquisition, and force protection.

To strengthen teaming skills for MUM-T operations, a new training game is being developed with the US Army Research Institute by Aptima and partners Trideum Corp, ASTi, KINEX Inc., and Imprimis, Inc. 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.

“Despite the term ‘unmanned,’ aerial systems require human operators, who increasingly are doing more than simply flying them,” said Kevin Sullivan, Aptima’s NVTT-Shadow project lead and VP of Operations. While UAS training prepares operators to fly platforms and operate payloads, such as capturing surveillance imagery, the evolution of MUM-T has placed greater emphasis on real-time collaboration with helicopter pilots. “Teaming is the operable word, which is predicated on skillful, timely human-to-human interaction, with the right party communicating the right information at the right time,” added Sullivan.

Funded through a Department of the Army Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) contract, the simulator utilizes the Army’s ONESAF game engine and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) speech recognition technology, providing the Army a lower-cost, readily accessible training vehicle that can be used from any Internet-connected computer. By incorporating synthetic entities and natural language processing that emulates voice and chat interactions, an individual UAS operator can practice communications and coordination in teaming scenarios, without requiring live pilots and other participants.

Aptima’s PM Engine™ software is integrated into the virtual trainer for performance measurement that guides trainees and enhances their learning. Its algorithms, tailored for natural language processing, evaluate trainee communications for completeness, accuracy, order, brevity, and timeliness of the interactions. While in the past live observers have been required to assess trainees using checklists, PM Engine automates objective performance measurement, and provides instructors with detailed assessments for after action reviews.

NVTT-Shadowhas been demonstrated and will be evaluatedat the UAS Training Battalion at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, the largest UAS training center in the world.

The Rapid Innovation Fund is a Department of the Army program for transitioning innovative technologies, primarily from small businesses, that resolve Department of the Army operational challenges.

This material is based upon work supported by the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) under Contract No. W911NF-14-C-0110. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI).

DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.