FORT MOORE, Ga. — Master Gunners at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Moore, Georgia, recently participated in a Soldier touchpoint that brings future technology to enhance Soldier training.
“ARMORS (Augmented Reality Maintainer-Operator Relay System) in the Master Gunner School means faster problem-solving, less downtime and better training,” said Maj. Edwin Vasquez, Technology Integration Facility Director, Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team.
“It's not just an upgrade; it changes the game. ARMORS will maximize master gunners' training efficiency and increase student knowledge and problem-solving capacity by optimizing state-of-the-art training tools."
ARMORS is a collaborative initiative between Army Futures Command’s Army Applications Laboratory and the STE CFT, along with Taqtile Inc., a small business innovation research company down selected to build the ARMORS prototype. The collective effort seeks to bridge contemporary technology with military utility.
“We're leaving behind three iPads, two Microsoft HoloLens Head Mounted Displays, as well as three hotspots so the master gunners can do live remote assist out on the range and test that capability in a live fire environment,” said Kelly Malone, Chief Business Officer, Taqtile Inc.
Targeted primarily at students and instructors at the Master Gunner Schools, the ARMORS deployment seeks to bring the benefits of augmented reality directly to those responsible for leading and training Soldiers across the force.
“The inspiration for the project really came from an E-4 who wanted to improve the Army maintenance system,” said Thomas Mead, ARMORS Primary Program Manager, AAL.
“Why can't — with all the tools that we have at our disposal in the digital world — why can't we digitize the system? So that's kind of the where this all started," Mead said.
The ARMORS system has two core components: digital work instructions using augmented reality and live remote assistance and collaboration.
ARMORS takes digitized training manuals and provides enhanced content, pictures, videos and augmented reality overlays,” Malone said.
“Think of digital ink over the top of real-world objects or over the top of a digital twin that you can take into the classroom. Using the remote assist capability, you can dial experts in, and they can help you troubleshoot, and problem solve in real time using augmented reality, interacting with your environment and really trying to solve problems quickly through that live remote assist capability,” he said.
“I do see the practicality of having it, especially with teaching the newer generation of Soldier because they are more technology based,” said Sgt. First Class Kenneth Shelton, Bradley Master Gunner Instructor.
Giving the students headsets to use with their homework assignments allows them to work on maintenance phase topics like workflow aids in information retention, he noted.
“It's working their memory in a different way, and it's helping them to learn faster," Shelton said.
"The ARMORS project overall is a success to come to the schoolhouse, talk directly to the master gunners, get their perspective and see what other gaps they have that we may not have been thinking about. The whole purpose of a Soldier touchpoint is to get their feedback,” Vasquez said.
“There’s a lot of good uses for it,” said Sgt. First Class Paul Tharaldsen, 19K Abrams Instructor.
Tharaldsen and the ARMORS team were able to recreate a simulation from a recent real-world call he received from a former student.
“I was able to talk him through it on the phone, but when we tested it today, it worked a lot better with the headset and the tablet,” he said.
The next Soldier touchpoint and feedback session is scheduled for May 2024.