DOD rolls out AR/VR technology at 5G testbed

The Defense Department has begun deploying 5G-powered augmented reality/virtual reality systems for mission planning and training at some of its 5G testbed sites.

The Defense Department has begun to roll out 5G-powered augmented reality/virtual reality systems at some of its 5G testbed sites, which are part of a broader $600 million initiative to expand DOD's 5G capabilities that was first announced in October 2020.

GBL Systems Corp. and Samsung will demonstrate 5G-enabled AR/VR versions of live field military training exercises in which users will interact with virtual obstacles found in the combat theatre and see overlays of data and instruments on the physical environment. The technology aims to advance mission planning, make training more accessible and improve operations.

Multiple trainees will be able to interact with the digital environment simultaneously, viewing real-time overlays of data onto the physical environment with their AR/VR goggles. Testing will begin initially in a lab setting, but then the pilot will use Samsung’s mid-band radios to expand capacity to a brigade-level of soldiers.

While GBL will be responsible for the prototype creation and technology integration, Samsung will provide access to its network of 5G products -- its Massive MIMO Radios, cloud-native 5G stand-alone core and Galaxy 5G mobile devices -- and technical expertise.

The testing process will allow DOD to work with the two companies to verify the deployment of a scalable, resilient and secure 5G network for AR/VR-based mission planning and training, Samsung officials said. 

“This effort has the potential to revolutionize how the DoD performs distributed training exercises that are more combat-like to significantly advance warfighter readiness,” GBL CEO  Jim Buscemi said. 

This article first appeared on GCN, a partner publication with Defense Systems.