Army showcasing 3-D tools

Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference

The Army is showcasing a suite of software and 3-D virtual reality tools

that enable engineers many miles apart to work closely in designing future

combat vehicles.

The technologies being demonstrated this week at the Interservice/Industry

Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando, Fla., are known

collectively as the Advanced Collaborative Environment.

The ACE suite includes:

* The Cave Automatic Virtual Environment — Some Army officials have

called this an early version of the holodeck, a virtual reality environment

featured in the "Star Trek" TV shows and movies. The CAVE makes it possible

to see virtual objects in three dimensions. This enables engineers, program

managers, users and contractors around the world to work on a common project

in real time and in 3-D, even passing virtual tools to one another.

* Windchill — This software connects users to each other and to information

via the Internet, creating an instant network.

* Powerall — This visualization device facilitates interaction and participation.

The advantages of ACE technologies, according to Army officials, include

saving substantial time and money during the process of designing and engineering

a new vehicle or other equipment.

The Army will conduct two ACE demonstrations during the Orlando conference.

The first is a continuous demonstration of a typical interactive design

review session for a conceptual vehicle known as the Reconfigurable Armored

Vehicle. The concept is one of several for the Army's Future Combat Systems,

a family of vehicles central to the Army's transformation into a lighter,

leaner force.

The second demonstration features the Army's National Automotive Center

and its partners — Electronic Data Systems Corp., Silicon Graphics Inc.

and Multigen-Paradigm Inc. — in a real-time, collaborative simulation of

a typical review session that explores ergonomic considerations in the crew

compartment of a tank.

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