Selex Road Marshall

We have been having a good debate about MICV v APC’s on Monty’s recent Obituary to the Main Battle Tank post and of the issues that came up was the ability of a commander in a turret to relay situational information to the infantry so that when they debus they know which way to turn and where the threats are etc.

Lose the turret and you lose that situational awareness.

Can technology help?

In Afghanistan on most of the British vehicles you can see small camera clusters placed at several points on the hull.

These are Selex DNVS4’s as the brochure below

The UK has purchased about 1,200 systems.

Selex have developed the concept further into the Road Marshall which integrates these small cameras with other sensors and gunners sights.

The British company Chess Dynamics also have a few products on the same theme, the Spyder Vista for example

 

Chess Dynamics Spider
Chess Dynamics Spider
Chess Dynamics Spider Vista on CVR(T) Spartan
Chess Dynamics Spider Vista on CVR(T) Spartan
Chess Dynamics Spyder Vista on CVR(T) Spartan
Chess Dynamics Spyder Vista on CVR(T) Spartan 

Looking to go a bit bigger (quele surprise), the US Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center has only a few days ago revealed details of their research objectives on virtual windows.

To provide better situational awareness for Bradley Fighting Vehicle Infantrymen, a cross-discipline team of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command engineers is developing the Virtual window — a video display mounted to the interior of the rear ramp that provides the Soldiers a comprehensive environmental view before they dismount the vehicle.

Contemporary military vehicles, such as the family of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, have several transparent armored windows Soldiers can use to survey the area around them. When Soldiers ride in a Bradley, they’re surrounded by protective armor and cannot see the area around them or know what they will encounter outside the vehicle once the rear ramp is lowered and they deploy.

The virtual window display helps minimize surprise when the ramp descends and the crew deploys out from the vehicle. Soldiers can step on the reinforced screen without damaging it as they exit the vehicle.

“We integrated a high-definition camera onto the rear of a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, and then integrated a commercial 46-inch LED display into the ramp,” said Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center engineer Andrew Kerbrat. “The video feed from the camera appears on the display, which gives Soldiers the ability to see outside the vehicle with the ramp closed. This visual situational awareness could be a game-changer in how the Soldier proceeds out of the vehicle.”To generate ideas for the Virtual window design, the project team organized an Innovations Solutions training event consisting of design students and professors from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, plus Army Warrant Officers from the U.S. Army Ordnance School who provided their experience and technical knowledge to the students who created numerous sketches for the virtual window concept. A second Innovations Solutions Workshop is being planned for this May.

As a follow-up to the workshop, the team has already started working on Virtual Window 2, which expands the system’s capabilities and will be integrated into and tested on a Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle.Possible enhancements for the Virtual Window 2 phase could involve driver and commander crew stations connected to the new display system to provide broader levels of situational awareness for the four-member squad, including:

  • 360-degree visual situational awareness through electro-optical sensors.
  • Thermal viewer through a commander’s Gimbal for medium range situational awareness (CITV-like) capability
  • Unmanned Ground Vehicle Command and Control with video feed displayed on the Virtual window
  • Video feed from a remote Soldier camera fed back to an ICV and displayed on screen
  • Remote mission planning from a tablet provided to the virtual window
  • Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below capability displays

“We are trying to move the technology toward the idea of the vehicle as a member of the squad,” Kerbrat said

The technology concept can be applied to other vehicles as well, he said.

“Not all vehicles would be able to take a wholly integrated system, but some subsystem technologies have relevance in current and future vehicles,” he said. “For example, we’re using versions of the Soldier Machine Interfaces for many projects ranging from command and control of small unmanned ground vehicles all the way to integration into MRAP vehicles involved in today’s fight.”

There is no substitute for the depth perception, peripheral vision, acoustics, scene recognition and movement sensing of Mr Mk1 Eyeball and Ear but are we getting close?

Armoured Vehicle Virtual Window
Armoured Vehicle Virtual Window
Armoured Vehicle Virtual Window
Armoured Vehicle Virtual Window
Armoured Vehicle Virtual Window
Armoured Vehicle Virtual Window

Who’s bringing the popcorn

 

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Mr.fred
Mr.fred
April 12, 2013 9:49 pm

Good article, as ever.
I especially like the fifth picture, showing as it does the comparison between the periscopes available to the dismounts and what you can do with a screen.

Bob
Bob
April 13, 2013 8:28 am

The problem is less with the cameras and more with the displays, having a 360 degree surveillance system is great but most of the advantages are lost when you try and display that very wide image. That and sensor fusion, the human brain still does a much better job of combining sight and sound than any computer.

Observer
Observer
April 13, 2013 8:41 am

Anyone believe you can stomp on the screen long term and not do damage? Give it time, and an increased infantry carry load. Muddy boots help.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
April 13, 2013 1:50 pm

Fit a dual input to allow the screen to display the soldier’s favourite audio-visual entertainment when in laager and they’ll be more careful with it, I would wager.

Observer
Observer
April 13, 2013 2:29 pm

Oh I have no doubt they will Mr fred, I have no doubt they will. :)

Unfortunately it’s on the ramp, you can’t help stepping on it. I can just see SOP becoming “While debussing, hop over the LCD screen.”

I’m just waiting for a scene like this to play out

“Damn it looks hot out there today, lots of fire.”
“Wait, why are there subtitles… All right, who left the screen playing action movies again?” :P

Screen’s a bit small for the Warrior though, can’t really get a good field of view with that small a screen.

wf
wf
April 13, 2013 2:30 pm

Long term, we’re going to move to utilizing NVG/TI assemblies that decouple the tubes from the user display. Once you’ve got Google glasses equivalent’s on, plug into your Android PRR replacement, which will have a wifi receiver built in. The current wifi implementations use Multiple In, Multiple Out beam steering to increase throughput, which logically would allow a receiver to determine direction relative to the vehicle if it has at least two receivers. Stream all the video inputs to the PRR’s, which can select the stream which suits the direction you are looking at.

Don’t give the contract to BAE :-)

There’s an app for the direction finding already

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=girsas.wifiradar&hl=en

Jed
Jed
April 14, 2013 5:20 pm

“loose the turret, loose the situational awareness” mmmm’ it’s a bit like a negative version of the Heroes catch phrase: “save the Cheerleader, save the world….”

However it’ just not true is it !

How many armoured vehicles do we have that have no turret ? FV43xx series vehicles, armoured engineer vehicles etc. They have the same situational awareness “issues” and yet periscopes, Commanders Cupola vision blocks etc were apparently deemed good enough for 50 years or more ?

However, 2 wrongs don’t make a right so, plenty of distributed small cameras with LCD screens for the crew is absolutely better than nothing. Of course doctrine is involved here too, every man and his dog apart from our Army likes to keep those thick bullet proof windows in the back of the MRAP for “better situational awareness when patrolling” but we go for “increased protection” and have to add the cameras………

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 20, 2013 1:03 am

This is how it goes: An IFV is developed in Turkey
… manufactured in Malaysia…
sold to Brunei
… and fitted with these gizmous

Everyone gains… other than the terrorists!

Observer
Observer
April 20, 2013 6:35 am

ACC, the PARS 8×8? I’m not so sanguine on it, think it was a case of monkey see, monkey do. We got an 8×8 APC, Malaysia saw us getting it and just followed suit. The conditions for them getting a new 8×8 isn’t really right, especially in terms of force structure and economy.

What they may have failed to see is that Singapore has been forced to get the 8×8, we have hit the top of the manpower cap, and the only way to go left was greater mechanisation/motorisation, while they still have lots of other ways to improve the effectiveness of their army, ways that are both more economical and does not involve having to uproot old doctrine and redevelop tactics.

No, not sanguine about it at all. But that is Malaysian military procurement for you, it’s a mixed grab bag and a bit of a mess.