Have you played the games Halo or Titanfall?
The first-person shooters in these two games are given a virtual “heads-up” display of the game around their avatar, complete with maps showing where enemies are and other important data without the need to look away from where their weapons are pointed. This is a likely scenario in the future for law enforcement and troops on the ground.

Heads-Up Data Display
No, the U.S. military is not into role-playing virtual video games. They have been experimenting with heads-up data display for many years already but have not quite been successful in producing cheaper alternatives to customized systems in the consumer electronics industry until recently. Soon, a U.S. Army squad leader who wants to know what’s going on the way ahead of him will only need to reach into his pocket to get a smartphone or a Google Glass device and not the binoculars.

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Off-The-Shelf-Mobile Technology
In a recent demonstration held at the Maneuver Battle Lab of the U.S. Army at Fort Benning in Georgia, an example of off-the-shelf smartphone technology is being evaluated as a handheld “situational awareness tool” via an app that connects video feeds from robots on the ground and in the air.

The US Army is evaluating off-the-shelf smartphone technology as a handheld ” “situational awareness tool.”

Field Demo Of SULSAT
Through the Concepts, Experimentation Program of the U.S. Army, a device called the SULSAT (Small Unit Leader Situational Awareness Tool) was on field demo at Fort Benning during the training on Urban Terrain held on May 13. SULSAT pulls a video to a squad leader or platoon commander where they are, using a wireless connection to a tactical robot’s control system. The device no longer requires the squad leader to look over the operator’s shoulder or pass requests for instructions over radio communications and tactical headsets as traditionally used.

Integration Of Robotics Systems With Soldiers On The Ground
SULSAT is a $1 million dollar program that is part of an effort to improve the integration of robotics systems at the lowest level within the Army’s command structure. The program is aimed at giving a pocketable device that allows them to see what’s up ahead, or over a hill or around the corner. The device can be useful:

  • to get views of the unfamiliar environment
  • to identify and locate potential IEDs (improvised explosive devices)
  • in clearing routes for a platoon or squad

Limited Range Of Wireless Connection
During the last demonstration, the latest prototype presented one main setback – its wireless connection has a limited range. This was attested by an officer with A Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, First Lieutenant Brandon Slusher who was given the opportunity to try the device. He was all praises for the tool but commented that the platoon commander is forced to remain close to the control operator of the tactical robotic in order to get the video feeds. Staying a distance away from the control prevents the device from receiving the video feeds.

3D Virtual Reality Views
Also part of the program goal is the inclusion of 3D virtual reality views built from air and ground sensors, aside from the device’s live video feeds. Earlier this year, the Army has requested a system that can take in LiDAR and other sensor data from drones and ground robots to build a visualization of internal and external structures or buildings, terrain, and of potential threats – including detection of moving targets. Such information would be sent to soldiers on the ground through their handheld devices.

Are we going to see a Google Glass-like device being used by the US military in battlefields in the near future?

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2 thoughts on “New Heads-Up Data Display Device For The U.S. Army”

  1. Eventually, a real life soldier will look not unlike a character in the game Halo. The finest weaponry, most high-performing vehicles, and superbly trained warfighters are only as good as their information on a situation. It is imperative that modern warfighters be constantly aware of their surroundings and the conditions of those surroundings – where allies and resources are located, the direction and distance of adversaries, weather and terrain conditions which may assist or impede in their actions, and so on. Much. Sounds like a video game.

  2. It’s a great thing that robots can now be used in the front lines to reduce casualties of war. Imagine how many lives could have been saved if this technology had existed during D-Day in World War II. Imagine a squadron of recognizance land and air drones taking fire while gather critical data as to the positions of the enemies. Then, once their positions were verified, well, these days they would just order a drone strike.

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