Applied Research Associates (ARA) won a United States Army Synthetic Training Environment (STE) contract to support the Secretary of Defense’s Soldier Lethality Initiative. STE is the Army’s vision for the future of soldier simulation training to make it more cohesive, efficient and cost-effective.

STE will provide an all-in-one training solution addressing the domains of space, air, ground, underground, sea and cyber. The effort will merge virtual environments into a single, non-proprietary environment that adapts to rapidly changing technologies. ARA is one of only seven companies selected to research and prototype solutions for the Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainers and One World Terrain (OWT), the first components of STE to be funded.

OWT will be STE’s synthetic-environment capability, generating 3D environments based on real-world terrain data. Existing synthetic environment technologies are often proprietary and not compatible, which limits training innovation and advancement. OWT will be based on a single, open format. Under this initial OWT award, ARA is adapting its government-owned, license-free ASCEND technology as an OWT solution.

ASCEND provides a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data-management system and a flexible data processing and storage pipeline, turning raw unprocessed data into three-dimensional content. OWT will feed into a second component of STE, the Terrain Simulation Software (TSS) that will be STE’s software engine leveraging emerging gaming and next-gen simulation capabilities.

ARA’s candidate for TSS is its Globe software, a government-owned, license free application that renders imagery, height map, features and entities onto a virtual globe built on the powerful Unreal game engine. ARA says TSS will be provided terrain and other environment features from OWT and generate a realistic, three-dimensional virtual world supporting training simulators such as the Soldier/Squad Virtual Trainer and providing soldiers with a game-changing training capability.