British Soldiers Training for Combat in Virtual Reality

Training Grounds

The British military is training its soldiers and running military exercises through a virtual reality simulation.

The simulation looked more like a first-person shooter video game than a serious military engagement, according to a new BBC video, in no small part due to the fact that the soldiers used commercially-available Oculus Rift S headsets and handheld controllers. The simulations, built by the company SimCentric, enable the military to run exercises or simulate firefights that would be dangerous in real life — ostensibly giving soldiers a leg up in actual combat.

Test Run

In the video, BBC journalist Zoe Kleinman learns to use the system, struggling to aim and reload a rifle with the same controllers you might use to play “Beat Saber.”

The simulation, which uses Fortnite maker Epic Games’ popular Unreal Engine, closely resembles the shooter games that run on the same tech. That allows SimCentric, the BBC reports, to rapidly develop specific training scenarios to whatever exercises the military wants to run.

Close Enough

Military training in VR has been around for a while — the United States conducted similar training exercises in virtual versions of US cities years ago. But years later, there are still numerous issues with the system.

As Kleinman notes, though, one of the big hurdles was the tech herself. In the video, she says that she struggled to do things like reload her gun or control her movement. She knew how to do these things at a conceptual level, but struggled because the Oculus Rift’s controls, at the end of the day, aren’t anything like a real gun.

READ MORE: Military trials training for missions in virtual reality [BBC News]

More on military training: Soldiers Are Training in Virtual Environments Generated From Real Cities