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
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?
Who’s bringing the popcorn