Sunday, November 30, 2003

Virtual Scary Monsters and Real Nazi Skinheads, Otherwise Known As, the Armed Forces.

Some of the most important questions to be answered by taxpayer dollars..."At what point does (a soldier) need a break or a drink of water?"..."How long a soldier can operate a piece of a mechanical weapons system and stay alert."...

"All [this and more] so we can deploy a division anywhere in the world within 36 hours."

Iowa Researchers Create Virtual Soldiers

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Researchers at the University of Iowa are using artificial intelligence programs to create computer simulations of human soldiers to help test the performance of future U.S. Army combat systems.

The five-year, $17.5 million project is designed to help make the Army faster, more efficient and lethal with the integration of more sophisticated weapons systems, university officials said.

The digital soldiers will help researchers test the impact new machinery and weapons systems could have on real troops, researchers said.

"That's something the army is very interested in: How long a soldier can operate a piece of a mechanical weapons system and stay alert," said Karim Malek, lead researcher and engineering professor. "At what point does (a soldier) need a break or a drink of water?"

Calculating the human impact of operating new weapons, equipment or battlefield scenarios on digital humans can help save money and determine sooner whether to the Army should pursue or redesign certain military systems, Malek said.

University researchers have already designed two virtual humans - a male named Tony, and a female, Ella. Each was designed using artificial intelligence programs that use digitized human anatomical data and mathematical models that can predict human thought and behavior, Malek said.

"They've done this to some degree in the (computer) gaming world, but what we're using here is real-time simulation," he said.

The research, which is not classified, will be done by a 25-person team of private and public experts. The majority will be medical department researchers and engineering faculty, but Malek said he wants to include engineers from Rockwell Collins, the Cedar Rapids-based company that has a long history of product development with the military.

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  • Also take a look at America's Army, the video game.

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