Virtual reality platform prepares soldiers for potentially hostile deployments

The Army has joined forces with top Hollywood producers to create an innovative virtual reality platform. It aims to revolutionise training in human emotions and cross-cultural communications for our soldiers.

The platform provides a futuristic virtual reality CGI experience to help soldiers better understand cultural and emotional differences before deploying overseas. 

Virtual reality headsets enable troops to meet with, speak to and interact with civilians, military partners and community leaders from a wide range of local environments across the globe.

The platform gives soldiers a full 360-degree experience with avatars programmed to behave like local nationals.

It plays out powerful, emotion-driven scenarios and is named Project Tyrion after one of the lead characters in ‘Game of Thrones’, the resilient and acerbic Tyrion Lannister who said “What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There’s nothing more powerful than a good story.”

The platform has been tested on soldiers preparing to deploy on Operation Newcombe in Mali. 

It's very easy to use, it was really immersive, it took me into the Malian desert. It felt like a proper engagement with a Malian tribe. Lieutenant Colonel Pete Middlemiss, SO1 Warfare

Lieutenant Colonel Pete Middlemiss, SO1 Warfare, said, 

“It’s very easy to use, it was really immersive, it took me into the Malian desert. It felt like a proper engagement with a Malian tribe.”

Project Tyrion is one of many examples of how the Army is responding to the changing nature of warfare. Troops are increasingly deploying to complex human terrains where a wide range of adversaries, be they conventional soldiers, militia groups or terrorists, present a significant threat.

These hostile actors usually possess a superior understanding of the local populace. So it is vital that, before deploying into such volatile environments, British troops are given the most realistic insight possible into what they are likely to face on the battlefield, be this urban, desert or mountainous terrain.

The platform goes beyond training cognitive capabilities, such as thinking and reasoning, and introduces more emotional behaviours which are inherently complex to model and simulate. The simulations are intended to improve performance in human interaction and strategic competition.

The key aim of the pilot is to achieve improved decision-making, engagement and outcomes for soldiers deploying overseas.

The British Army has partnered with award winning film makers and virtual reality producers CrisisCast, along with human security company Valka-Mir, to design the virtual training.

Project Tyrion began in August 2021 and is due to finish in December when it will be fully evaluated.