FAAC Incorporated developed the 3-D visualization analyzer for the Air Force Research lab's Munitions Directorate/Guidance Simulation Branch (AFRL/MNGG) under a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research effort. The visualization analyzer is called KeenInsight.
AFRL/MNGG, in conjunction with FAAC, has undertaken the challenge to improve methods for interpreting and displaying simulation data for evaluating performance of conceptual weapons systems by developing a PC-based real-time 3D visualizer. This low-cost alternative aids AFRL/MNGG in their responsibility for the analysis of conceptual,next-generation-guided munitions. In this role they use 6-DOF munitions fly-out simulations to identify critical design issues, perform best investment tradeoff studies, and to determine performance requirements for the next generation of air-to-air and air-to-ground guided munitions.
KeenInsight has successfully brought 3D visualization to desktop Windows®-based PCs. KeenInsight proved that the process of creating a flexible munitions fly-out visualization doesn't need to be complicated or take much time. Instead it creates realistic fly-out visualizations using current PC graphics hardware.
KeenInsight utilizes information produced off-line (by engineering simulations or other suitable sources) to provide a graphical interactive depiction of real world engagements involving 3D entities representing launchers, weapons and targets. The 3D visual scene is created with state-of-the-art graphics technology and is composed of textured polygons and detailed entity models. Operator controls are provided to position the eye-point and control playback of data with easy-to-use VCR-like controls. The application has four key elements: 1) a Graphical User Interface (GUI) 2) a detailed data interface of displayable information used to drive 3-D representations 3) a real-time graphics generator 4) the ability to import realistic terrain databases and 3D object models for weapons/targets/launchers.
Two additional objectives for KeenInsight were that a) it operate on a PC running a Windows operating system (Windows 95/98, NT 4.0, and 2000) and b) be easy to use. The prototype developed under Phase I of this program demonstrated that both of these goals were possible. KeenInsight built upon the successes of Phase I and became an innovative 3D visualization tool. As for ease of use, a novice user of KeenInsight is able to set up and run a scenario in about ten minutes. Several hours or days of training would be required before being able to do the same with other advanced animation packages.
Munitions simulations in AFRL/MNGG are designed modularly. The modules of code, or components, each represent a different physical or logical part of the munition. For instance, a few of the components of a guided bomb are the guidance unit, fin actuators, inertial navigation system and autopilot. At some point, the developer of, say, a new autopilot component will want to insert the autopilot into the overall munition simulation and run the simulation to test the effect of the new autopilot. The developer may be looking out for subtle changes in the rotational dynamics of the munition that don't correspond with reality and therefore indicate that the autopilot isn't coded correctly. It takes much less time to understand what is happening dynamically with a munition by looking at a 3D representation than by looking a numerical data or 2D plots.
FAAC has been successful in transitioning derivatives of technological advancements made during this program to both the Department of Defense (DoD) and the private sector. Additional investments have been made by DoD and other sources to take the graphics technology originally developed for KeenInsight and apply it to the commercial vehicle driver training simulator market. As an example, the PC graphics technology has been successfully incorporated into the simulators delivered as part of the USMC Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement-Training System (MTVR-TS) Operator Driver Simulator. The PC graphics-based simulators provide low life cycle costs and easily maintainable systems. PC image generator components, which are directly related to the graphics technology developed during this program, have been integrated as part of MTVR-TS. In addition, simulators using the same PC graphics technology have been sold to the private sector. FAAC is also integrating the PC graphics technology into the Multi-Spectral Man-in-the-Loop cockpit simulator being developed for the Guided Weapon Evaluation Facility (GWEF) at Eglin Air Force Base.
KeenInsight is a valuable tool in the development and analysis of future weapon systems and the cost savings are immense when considering that, as a result of this effort, KeenInsight is freeware for the US Government. Interested agencies may contact AFRL/MNGG.