Hughes, NYC vendor team on Army project

Hughes Training Inc. earlier this month turned to a Wall Street-based vendor to help develop the distributed-object architecture that will be at the heart of a major Army simulation training program.

The Fusion Systems Group Inc. runs Sun Microsystems Inc.'s New York Object Reality Center which specializes in developing distributed-object applications for Wall Street's financial organizations such as real-time portfolio management systems. Sun created the center to champion object technology in the financial community evaluating the latest commercial object technology and running on Sun hardware.

Under the agreement announced last week The Fusion Systems Group will provide its expertise in a similar fashion to Hughes the prime contractor on the Army's Battle Lab Reconfigurable Simulator Initiative program.

With BLRSI the Army Training and Doctrine Command is looking for a simulation program that can be easily reconfigured and tailored to the specific requirements of the command's 11 battle labs as they develop new vehicles or weapons systems.

In the course of such a development the battle labs need to test a multitude of configurations according to Hughes. Object technology will make this possible.

An object architecture "allows us to develop free play of individual distributed objects in complex simulation " said Larry Donaldson BLRSI program manager for Hughes in Orlando Fla.

"Instead of having a whole vehicle you can play each individual object such as an engine or transmission. That's important for doing laboratory analysis " he said.

Object technology allows developers to create self-contained units of code - the objects - with set properties and standard interfaces for interacting with other objects. Rather than writing every program from scratch developers can mix and match existing predefined objects.

Hughes is looking for technology that is compliant with the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) a standard developed by the Object Management Group an industry consortium that defines how objects interact.

Specifically that technology must support real-time computing said Heather Walden general manager of The Fusion Systems Group in New York.

While some simulation programs will follow set or "deterministic" scripts Hughes needs an architecture in which objects can handle outside events changing the scenario which requires them to get synchronized with new objects and continue the simulation Walden said.

This functionality is a prerequisite to support the complex simulation programs the Army wants to use. "They want to be running many-days' simulations where it's a plug-and-play environment " she said.Hughes and The Fusion Systems Group recently completed some initial benchmarking that showed a CORBA architecture should support the program's requirements according to Walden.

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