The Internet of Simulations is also a topic of discussion in the last issue of Defence & Security Systems International's publication. We have been invited by DSSI to provide an insight about LVC simulation's challenges and how to solve them to unleash its real value to the military forces worldwide.
As Mr Steve Brittan, CEO of the UK Defence Solutions Centre also writes in this issue (take a look to the article "Synthetic environments: a new training field") , military forces as the UK MoD are requesting a migration to virtual training from live training but they are still facing many challenges, as:
In Simware Solutions we have already dealt with above challenges with our Simware platform and the Layered Simulation Architecture, The article explains how we have leveraged LSA and Simware to migrate the stovepipe and standalone simulators to smart connected systems that can collaborate with other simulators and real-wold systems in a common synthetic environment that we call the Internet of Simulations.
I have read an interesting paper included in the volume 9848 of the SPIE proceedings , "Modeling and Simulation for Defense Systems and Applications XI". This paper (you can downloaded here proceedings.spiedigitallibrary.org/volume.aspx?volumeid=17674) titled "Internet of the Things, a possible change in the distributed modeling and simulation architecture paradigm" by Mark Riecken, Kurt Lessmann and David Schillero, proposes to consider LVC simulation as a type of Cyber Physical Systems or CPS in the Internet of the Things (IoT) as defined by NIST (know further about CPS concept at www.nist.gov/cps/ ).
Authors recognized many similarities between LVC simulation and IoT/CPS and propose a closer collaboration between both communities to improve both. LVC Simulation can benefit from IOT-/CPS to refresh and sustain its core technologies, because much of the technology employed at LVC simulation was developed prior to the proliferation of internet. IOT/CPS can leverage LVC simulation to experiment and test complex scenarios in synthetic playgrounds. Paper presents two specific use cases of IOT/CPS that would benefit from distributed simulation :
At a conclusion, authors are proposing to expand the collaboration between both communities using special sessions or forums at SPIE and similar venues that could evolve to permanent structures in which both communities could work together on common protocols, standardization processes, shared data models, LVC in CPS and modeling cybersecurity. This paper uses as references of the work to be done our study group at SISO for the Layered Simulation Architecture and the integration of different standards in our Simware platform.
We do support this proposal because we fully agree with the vision of the authors. Our R&D in Simware platform and our work at SISO and NATO CoIs related to LVC simulation are already pursuing this collaboration and a seamless interoperability between simulation and IOT technologies and processes. We called this vision the Internet of Simulations and it will enable the evolution of a niche technology, as it is distributed simulation nowadays to the mainstream, useful for exciting new applications as the use cases explored in the paper.
What do you think? Are you ready to collaborate with us on the future of simulation, the Internet of Simulations? If you are, please send me an email to jmlopez@simware.
Jose M Lopez
The market for flight training devices is growing, leveraged by the rising demand for air transportation and the increased request for virtual training in the military air forces. But it could grow at a much bigger pace if platforms were adopted. Training devices are still built as stovepipe and standalone products and therefore they are missing opportunities to deliver more functionality and capabilities if they were able to leverage the network.
Many industrial systems are already migrating to connected products, embracing the Internet of Things or IoT concept. As Michael Porter and James Heppelmann explained in the article "How smart connected products are transforming competition", published on Harvard Business Review on Nov 2014 : "Smart, connected industrial products offer exponencially expanding opportunities for new functionality and capabilities that trascent traditional product boundaries. The changing nature of products is disrupting value chains and forcing companies to rething nearly everything they do ...". Training devices are also industrial products and therefore they will have to evolve to the Internet of Things concept sooner than later. Market will demand not only connected training devices but also the new business models linked to IoT, as product-as-a-service or hybrid models between the extremes of product-as-a-service and conventional ownership, as for example a product sales bundles with a performance based contracts.
"Training devices are also industrial products and therefore they will have to evolve to the Internet of Things concept sooner than later"
The way to achieve this evolution in the flight simulation market is by evolving the current stovepipe training devices to connected products based on simulation platforms that allow to integrate the physical training device, composed by hardware and embedded software with software running on remote servers, owned by the simulator's provider or by external companies in the expanded supply chain that are providing specific software that increase the capabilities and functionalities of the training device.
Platforms would allow to build training devices as the integration of multiple simulation apps. In Simware Solutions, we have named this concept the Internet of Simulations or IoS. In the same way that Internet has transformed how we exchange and share information with others, and the Internet of the Things is promising to transform the way consumer and industrial devices are employed; the Internet of Simulations must unleash the real value of networked or distributed simulation.
In IoS, the stovepipe and standalone training device will evolve to a connected product that it is made up of multiple layers, some of them located in the training center of the customer and others running on remote servers. Conceptual architecture of a Connected Flight training device would be as the one shown in below picture.
"In the same way that Internet has transformed how we exchange and share information with others, and the Internet of the Things is promising to transform the way consumer and industrial devices are employed; the Internet of Simulations must unleash the real value of networked or distributed simulation"
IoS requires a new "technology infrastructure", that allows to provide training services with a hybrid deployment, combining some components on the customer facilities and many others on the cloud. This Cloud based deployment will allow not only a better maintenance and support of the training devices but also the capability to provide the same simulation functionality to different consumers located in different places and using different hardware. For example a simulator & training provider could serve the same high-fidelity simulation capabilities to a full flight simulator located in a dedicated training center in Florida and to a courseware running on a tablet that a pilot is using while is resting in his hotel after a flight in London.
Simware Solutions provides the technology and the architecture to make this evolution without any technical risk. Our Simware platform, as any IoT’s network infrastructure platform, provides the mechanisms to connect the simulators to the network and to share data between the publishers and subscribers or consumers of the data. Simulators can leverage Simware platform to evolve to smart devices that can connect to others in the network through the platform to improve their capabilities.
Simware's bedrock is its Layered Simulation Architecture or LSA. Below figure shows the layered architecture in Simware. These layers can be combined in many different ways to build almost any kind of simulation application, from simple training applications running on web or mobile platforms to complex full flight simulators. LSA is a network-oriented architecture, allowing to deploy a simulation "technology stack" as the one shown in above picture. Simware leverages one of the main data-exchange technologies in IoT, DDS to deliver real time and deterministic performance to the training device, even in a network deployment. Simware adds also compliance with HLA standard to connect with any simulation product already compliant with this distributed simulation technology.
The Internet of Simulations can bring many exciting opportunities to the flight simulation market. The technology to evolve the flight training devices to connected simulators is already in the market and Simware platform is an example. IoS will make easier the access to the flight simulation products to any type of customer, offering him new ways to experience the training. IoS will facilitate also the collaboration between the different stakeholders in the supply chain: the aircraft manufacturer, the simulation & training provider and also to many small and medium companies and research organizations that could provide its products and services embedded in the solutions of the large S&T providers. IoS would allow also to expand the applicability of flight simulations beyond training, for example to be used as test-sites for new equipment acting in this case as virtual prototyping laboratories, connected to the engineering departments of the aircraft or OEM manufacturers.
Are you ready to embrace IoS for your flight simulation solutions? If you are please contact us and we will help you to achieve it.
General Manager Simware Solutions
Sometimes, people is confused about Simware capabilities. Because Simware is compliant with data distribution technologies as HLA or DDS, some people says that Simware is another middleware. Others see the many extensions in Simware and the capabilities included in them and think about Simware as a vertical solution ready to be installed in the end-user facilities. Parts of Simware can work as a middleware or as end-user applications, but essentially Simware is a SIMULATION PLATFORM, oriented to the developer of simulation applications. Even when it is true that Simware includes middlewares and deployment tools and infrastructure, what it is important and relevant in Simware is how all the tools, middlewares, runtimes infrastructures and APIs are integrated into a comprehensive software platform.
Simware’s bedrock is his data-centric, layered and modular architecture. This architecture, named LSA for Layered Simulation Architecture, can be leveraged by the applications to build different kind of simulation applications, from simple federates to complex real time high-fidelity simulators. Our layered architecture provides a great modularity and flexibility of use.
Simware is composed by next layers:
Then, you can see that Simware has a middleware but it is not only a middleware. The middleware is only a layer in Simware. But it is true that Simware can be used only as a middleware, because of its uncoupled architecture that allows to use only the layers that are requested in each application (see the below examples)
Besides the layered and modular architecture in Simware, the other key concept in Simware is its pure data-centric design. Simware only leverages data to enable the interactions between all the entities connected to the platform. Data is used to exchange information about the dynamics and behaviors of the different simulated objects, including the interactions between them. Simware also use data to manage the execution of the simulation in a distributed environment (control of the state-machine and the clock, management of instances of the different objects, etc.). To know more about the data-centric architecture in Simware go to www.simware.es/data-centric-architecture.html
Simware architecture gives you the flexibility to use only the layers you need. In this way it is much easier to integrate third-party components that can provide equivalent capabilities to some of the features included in Simware. A typical example is to integrate a different simulation engine instead of the runtime infrastructure already provided in Simware. This case is possible in Simware and the only rule to follow is to use the provided APIs to integrate the third-party software with the layers used in Simware.
Here you have several examples of how Simware can be used in different applications. Take a look to them.
This post is only showing some of the multiple choices the developer has when is developing with Simware. Loosely coupled architecture in Simware allows to combine the different layers in many ways. Modularity allows only to use the requested layers in each integration, avoiding any unnecessary overhead and minimizing the impact of the platform in the performance of the whole product.
You can find more detail about the different layers in the architecture and their APIs in the document "Simware Resources: Understanding Simware architecture" that is located at www.simware.es/resources.html . Real uses cases about how Simware has been used in different solutions are found at www.simware.es/solutions.html
Simware is expanding its domains of application and now it is being used also to develop Massive Online Gaming solutions. Simware allows to create gaming applications for virtual training that can be fully interoperable in the network with other live, virtual or constructive simulations. Simware allows also to build fully distributed gaming solutions that can be scalable to any number of clients and deployed in any type of device. Gaming solutions based on Simware can be connected without restrictions to third-party products, leveraging the many interfaces and standards already supported by Simware.
You can find more details about how gaming developers and integrators of game based training solutions can leverage Simware in our Solutions section of this site (at http://www.simware.es/serious-games.html)
During this Christmas season I have found a couple of readings very interesting because they have allowed me to think about how Networked Simulation was created, how has evolved and how it could be used in the future. This readings have shown me the past and origin of LVC Simulation (the name of Networked Simulation in the military domain) and a possible future for this technology.
I read first about the origin of LVC simulation: the DARPA's SIMNET program. The origin of LVC simulation for training as it is demanded now, based on high fidelity simulations, very inmersive 3D graphics and connected simulators in a network, was this SIMNET project. SIMNET was a DARPA sponsored and funded project and it is origin and importance for the readiness of the military forces is explained in the book : "The Pentagon's Brain. An uncensored history of DARPA, ..." by Annie Jacobsen. In her book, Ms Jacobsen explained how Capt (later Col) Thorpe, in 1978, got a very radical idea in that time : to link two flight simulators in order to allow a pilot and its wingman to train together in a common virtual world. Based on this first experiment made at Williams Air Force in Arizona, Capt Thorpe proposed the development of a network of flight simulators that would allow for " real time dress rehearsals". This idea was very radical in that time because the Internet's predecessor, ARPANET, was only an small experiment in the late 70s. Capt Thorpe was able to go back to his idea in the early 80s when he was assigned to DARPA as a program manager. In that moment he was aware of the classified work in ARPANET and was able to transform its idea in a new program in 1983 using the new technologies for networking developed at ARPANET; this project was named SIMNET and was focused on the main military priority in the early 80s: how to train and rehearse tanks battles as could be performed on Europe against the soviet armor forces. Now, 30 years later, SIMNET has evolved to LVC simulation and it is demanded worldwide as a a basic tool to keep the operational readiness of the military and security forces. This reading has made me to compare how different has been the evolution of Arpanet and Simnet since they were created as DoD funded programs under the umbrella of DARPA:
"As the exercise [i.e., the Gulf War] got under way the movements of Iraq's real-world ground and air forces eerily paralleled the imaginary scenario of the game"
After this very interesting reading about the origin of LVC simulation, I have read about a "could be" future for LVC Simulation : Blending real and virtual worlds in a seamless way. In Popular Science magazine, you can find an article posted by Kevin Gray (http://www.popsci.com/last-fighter-pilot). Main topic of this article is about the new F35 fighter jet and its unique capabilities but also talks a bit about the sims used to train the pilots of this jet. What is interesting in this article is that it points out to a possible evolution of the simulation to a very radical concept that I think is very promising and exciting for our industry: using virtual simulators to "fly" unmanned fighters actually flying in the theater of operations. LtC Rhett Hierlmeier, head of the F35 simulation center at Luke Air base, envisions a radical new way to deal with the military operations : Live systems deployed in operations and managed from virtual simulators located in a simulation center. Virtual and real worlds would be blended in a seamless way in a augmented reality scenario.
Basically, this article is pushing for a bigger and better integration of the simulations in the Military Network Centric's Systems of Systems, as an integral part of the whole system, useful not only to train but also to rehearse and even to perform the operations.
“I’m hoping we’ll see a day when man is not in the machine, but he is in the loop. We've got to embrace that. I see a day when you're driving into this dome, and you're fighting from right here”
In order to be able to realize this dream we need to evolve the simulations, from the propietary and stovepipe simulators, as usual now, to open, interoperable and real connected devices, that can integrate easily with other live or virtual systems located in the network. This is a very necessary evolution in the concept of how to develop, deploy and use the simulations that we have named the Internet of Simulations. In the same way that internet has transformed the way in which we communicate, exchange and share information with others, or the Internet of Things is promising to transform the way the consumers and industrial devices are employed, the Internet of Simulations must unleash the real value of networked or distributed simulation, enabling many new uses for distributed simulation as the use envisioned by Ltc Hierlmeier or many others as:
I strongly recommend that you read both readings and take your own conclusions. I would appreciate you could also share with all the community your thoughts about these readings and about your vision for the future of Networked Simulation.
At NTSA Youtube channel, your can find a very interesting video showing how LVC simulation is going out of the laboratories to being useful in training complex asymmetric operations. This year, I/ITSEC conference includes a demonstration named Operation Blended Warrior that shows the value of integrating multiple simulators in a common virtual scenario. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoVRTf2Vf_Q to watch it.
This is another example of the evolution of the simulation market: now the user is not only demanding a simulator with good performance and fidelity in a standalone configuration but also a device able to connect with many other systems in the network to increase their simulation capabilities.
Our mission with Simware is to help the industry to do this migration from the stand-alone devices to the connected devices effortless and without any risk. Know more about how we are helping in this website.
I have just read a very interesting story at federalnewsradio.com by Scott Maucione (ihttp://federalnewsradio.com/acquisition/2015/11/air-force-finalizing-acquisition-process-open-architecture/)
This story explains how US Air Force is leveraging open architectures to speed up the acquisition process. USAF is finalizing an agreement with a consortium of companies in hopes of doling out rapid awards around open architectures systems. Their goal is to cut its award time to ONLY three weeks. This is a amazing goal!
They are going to do it by taking advantage of PlugFests (know more about this events at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plugtest). In this kind of events the companies compete by presenting applications compliant with the target architecture, doing connectivity and interoperability tests. The Air force uses the fest to select the applications and therefore eliminates the need for companies to submit other marketing material as whitepapers, demonstrations, etc.
With the fest USAF is achieving two objectives : test the capabilities of each app and also its capabilities when working in connection with other systems. In this way interoperability and compliance with the open architecture is already confirmed during the acquisition process.
We, in NADS, have experience in this kind of Plugfests or Plustests. We participated with our RTI Pro product in a DDS interoperability workshop in 2013 organized by OMG. In this case the fest was only with the purpose to demonstrate that the wire protocol in the DDS standard, DDSI, was really open and enough well implemented by the different vendors in order to be able to interoperate in a common testing scenario.
I do find very interesting the application of these fests to the acquisition process. If this kind of events were applied to the acquisition of new simulation systems, huge savings in time and money could be achieved and the buyer would be promoting in a very pragmatic and fair way the open competition between different vendors, products and solutions. I am sure many of you have suffered from systems that are not working as requested, failing many contractual requirements, especially those related to non-functional requirements as the interoperability. If the tender were a competition about different alternatives obliged to interoperate in the same common scenario, all the technical requirements would be already tested before to take any decision about the winner. Maybe this is not the best alternative to purchase very specific turn-key systems, but it could be a very good option when you are selecting complements or extensions to systems or federations of systems already deployed or when you are acquiring COTS based solutions. In this way purchasers would be promoting new business models in the simulation industry as the use of the simulation as services (MSaaS) or open innovation based schemes of cooperation between the different stakeholders in the supply chain.
What is your thinking about this topic? Have you had some project in which this kind of evaluation could have been applied?
Posted by Jose-Maria Lopez
Our SimwareWeb extension has evolved from beta to release stage. You can know experiment with SimwareWeb how to evolve your simulations to the Web, without losing any of your features and capabilities.
With SimwareWeb we are integrating another emerging but mature standard of the market, in this case the learning web standard LTI or Learning Tool Interoperability (know more about this standard at www.simware.es/simware--standards.html ).
Simware Web extension will allow you not only to integrate a web server with your LVC simulations but also to deploy and manage simulation servers in the cloud and integrate hi-fi simulations with elearning applications, as the typical coursewares products in use to provide ab-initio training in mil&aero markets.
You can know more about the capabilities of this extension at www.simware.es/simware-web.html. I recommend also that you join to our introductory webinar about SimwareWeb on November 12.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more information about this product or need help about how to leverage it in your projects and products.
During the last five years I have been roaming around the world speaking about distributed simulation. During that time, I have found common desires but also common frustrations. M&S community wants to build nets of simulators in an easy and fast way and; like everybody says “there are no technical issues” for doing that. But reality is that the process of building simulators is never easy or fast. After all this years in the development of standards and architectures, M&S people still have to care about the small details and they never really fit at the first try. Real process is painful and the results are never adequate. Building simulators and specially nets of simulators is still an adventure and a “one time effort”.
In fact, what bothers me more is that people in the M&S industry assume these facts with resignation: that they simply won´t get what they really need for building or connecting simulators.
Thinking about the issue, I have written a small paper I want to share with you. Nothing in this paper is fiction, but hard reality. Also, I recommend reading it without prejudice, the objective of this paper is not trying to discredit or despise standards and architectures in use. These standards and architectures work ok (in certain scenarios) and has been an enormous help in building M&S constellation of simulators. But, like all standards, they have limits and problems difficult to solve.
Posted by Jose-Ramon Martinez. Presales Director at Simware.
About the Blog
This Blog is supported by Simware Team. We are the team in charge of developing the product and supporting its users.