Varjo and Vertex Team Up on MR Solutions for US DoD

15 August 2023

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Image credit: Varjo

Varjo is partnering with Vertex Solutions, a developer and integrator of Extended Reality (XR) flight simulators, for the U.S. Department of Defense. With this partnership, Varjo will provide virtual and mixed reality technologies for its rotary- and fixed-wing XR flight simulator solutions. In addition, all

U.S. Air Force (USAF) undergraduate rotary-wing XR pilot training will be accomplished using Vertex Solutions devices equipped with Varjo Aero and XR-3 Focal Edition mixed reality headsets.

Vertex Solutions’ Multi-Place Mixed Reality (MPMR) Flight Simulator equipped with Varjo XR-3 Focal Edition headsets will be evaluated for an Advanced Aviation Training Device or Flight Training Device (FTD) Level 7 FAA certification, which is a first for rotary-wing XR training.

“Vertex is honored to have won three out of three advanced pilot training contracts with Defense Innovation Unit: an overall integrator of Pilot Training Transformation (PTT), the Multi-Place Mixed Reality flight simulator, and, our most recent win, Fighter/Bomber Fundamentals MR enhanced fast jet trainer. Our success is dependent on partners we can trust to deliver high-quality products at the speed of innovation, and Varjo and Vertex Solutions’ simulators make a great match for delivering best-in-class pilot training to the US Department of Defense,” said Vertex President and COO Dennis Wikoff.

Previously, the USAF used Weapon System Trainers (WSTs) and Operational Flight Trainers (OFTs) to train pilots, which is costly and have outdated visuals and fewer capabilities. The Vertex replacement devices will save $3M and have almost no additional infrastructure costs since the devices fit in a typical office space, are powered by standard 110VAC, and require no additional heating, ventilation, or air conditioning. In previous USAF fixed-wing efforts utilizing Vertex’s XR solutions, the time to solo has been reduced by 30-50% and, in some cases, up to 70%.

“The use of XR in rotary training replacing outdated WSTs is a big step forward for the industry,” said Timothy Moser, Vertex Air Force Business Unit Lead and former 19AF Deputy of Operations for the Pilot Training Transformation program in Air Education and Training Command (AETC). “USAF cannot compromise on the quality of its training but will always strive for ways to save time and costs while providing the highest quality training experience, so we’re looking forward to integrating the latest and greatest mixed reality technology into their training.”

The Varjo XR-3 Focal Edition is specifically designed for use in the cockpit, given the reduced focal length of the 4K cameras optimized for items within arm’s length. With the enhanced Varjo mixed reality capabilities, pilots can quickly read instruments as in a real cockpit and continue to scan outside the window.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Vertex Solutions to improve USAF’s flight simulators,” said Seppo Aaltonen, Chief Commercial Officer of Varjo. “Due to its potential for FAA certification, tactile feel, and the mixture of affordable visuals and realism, mixed reality solutions are the future of pilot training,” he added.

The MPMR prototype recently went through rigorous user experience validation and will be operational in early 2024. Combined with the 10 VR simulators already incorporated in the syllabus, Varjo and Vertex Solutions, along with other partners, will exclusively provide simulation solutions for USAF undergraduate rotary-wing training.

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