Battlefield Visualization

Simon Julier, Rob King, Naval Research Laboratory

Gaining a detailed picture of a battlefield is vital for the success of
a military operation. This picture is used to direct the movement of
assets and materiel over rugged terrain, day and night, in uncertain
weather conditions, taking account of possible enemy locations and
activity. Traditionally, mission planners have received written or vocal reports which have been transcribed onto maps using grease proof pencils and acetate overlays. However, these methods can be slow and inaccurate, with much of the three-dimensional nature of the environment lost on a map.

At the Naval Research Laboratory, we are developing a software system to assist with battlefield visualization[1]. The system receives data from a multiplicity of data systems (such as simulation systems or situation awareness systems, consisting of users keying in their observations) and constructs a three-dimensional view of the map with assets overlaid onto the environment. The map can be displayed on a virtual workbench or a GROTTO (CAVE-like device). Using a virtual ``laser pointer'', the user can select, query and move entities or other objects. The image above shows a typical output from this system.

Planning is an inherently collaborative activity and we are developing a simple multi-user collaboration system which uses CAVERN as the data transport mechanism. This collaboration system operates between the different display environments (Workbench to Workbench, and Workbench to GROTTO). Each entity has a set of attributes and a list of permissions associated with those attributes. The permissions control what activities each user may perform such as delete object, move object, or perform some other kind of state change. The ownership must be passed
from user to user and, in effect, is a write lock. The system will also support "read" permissions sets which control who is able to observe an object, and what they are able to see. In addition to battlefield visualization, components of the same software system are being transitioned to collaborative scientific visualization
applications[2].

[1] J. Durbin, S. Julier et. al., Making Information Overload Work: the Dragon software system on a Virtual Reality Responsive Workbench, The Proceedings of AeroSense: The 12th International Symposium on Aerospace/Defense Sensing, Simulation and Controls, Orlando, Florida, SPIE,1998

[2] E. Kuo, M. Lanzagorta, R. Rosenberg and S. Julier, Projection based VR Scientific Visualization, Submitted to IEEE VR99, 1999.

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