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­.S. Army Makes a Virtual North Korea for Training


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These soldiers might soon use virtual reality to train.

The U.S. Army is creating a virtual environment duplicating our planet in which to drill troops.

Credit: U.S. Marines/Alamy

The U.S. Army is creating a virtual environment duplicating our planet in which to drill troops, hoping to make the experience so realistic that virtual reality missions will be almost as effective for training as actual experience.

A new tool can automatically make a virtual reality environment of almost any location. Users draw a rectangle on a map, and publicly-available data sources such as Open Street Map are used to create the terrain.

"We did the whole Korean peninsula this way, all from public sources," says the project’s chief engineer, Mike Enloe.

The system also can incorporate topographical data and satellite photography.

Using the new tool, the team spent only three days building virtual versions of North and South Korea, a feat that previously would have taken months.

Gaming technology like virtual reality offers a faster, more cost-effective way to generate virtual environments based on real-world locations, according to Enloe.

From New Scientist
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