PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - A ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off the grand opening of a new Experimental Verification and Validation Assessment Laboratory (EVVAL), which will help provide critical human research that supports armaments development and determining requirements, as well as testing and evaluation of systems at all points in the acquisition cycle.

Officials with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armament Center's Quality Engineering and System Assurance (QE&SA) Directorate, held the official opening on April 26 in Building 92.

The new EVVAL is part of the Armament Center's Tactical Behavior Research Laboratory (TBRL), which studies the human portion of an armaments performance equation. Researchers with the TBRL help to provide the analytical proof of performance effectiveness for armaments systems.

"We get to introduce to the world this facility, this equipment, and the capability that the TBRL personnel can now provide to the warfighter," said Michael Berry, Chief, Evaluation Laboratory Division, QE&SA.

The EVVAL is the fifth generation of the TBRL virtual testbeds. Planning for EVVAL was started in 2014, which was divided into three phases. Phase one and two included construction of the EVVAL space, while phase three included acquisition of equipment.

The 30'x 70' configurable space provides enough room to test several persons, teams, and or squads, at the same time. Collaborations with artists and animators from the Gaming and Interactive Technology and Media group can result in customized scenario generation.

"To some, it might seem like we're just building 3-D video games but these 'games' allow us to test, validate, and verify armament systems at all stages of the life cycle," said Robert DeMarco, Instrumentation/Virtual Reality Lead, TBRL.

"From verifying how a human performs in an existing armament platform, to determining how a human performs in a prototype designs that only exists as a CAD drawing, virtual reality (VR) technology provides almost endless testing possibilities with a vast array of information that directly impacts the warfighter," DeMarco said.

"VR allows us to better train warfighters by placing them in a situationally relevant scenario and testing how they perform. It also allows us to analyze design choices to build better systems for the warfighter based on factual empirical data versus best guesses," DeMarco said.

The TBRL was established in 2004, then headed by Kenneth Yagrich. At the time, the mission was research and effectiveness testing on non-lethal weapons. Then, in 2010, John Riedener became Laboratory Lead, and the mission expanded to include Soldier armament interaction testing, using virtual reality simulators.

Under the current leadership of Gladstone Reid, the TBRL has three virtual/augmented/ mixed reality test beds, indoor and outdoor research capabilities, and a growing staff with diverse areas of expertise.