PROOF-OF-CONCEPT VIRTUAL REALITY PARACHUTE TRAINING SIMULATOR
Vazquez Duran, Jose A.
Guerrero, Michael J.
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The miscalculation of the height during the landing phase of the parachute jump is found to be a frequent cause of physical injuries among parachute jumpers and paratroopers. Providing trainees with the opportunity to practice parachute jumps in different terrains and acquire good skills when estimating the height (altitude) is essential in reducing, if not even eliminating, future injuries. This thesis research uses virtual reality technology to create a complementary training solution for military parachute training. The proof-of-concept training system uses immersive commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) virtual reality headset and passive haptics technology. This system aims to be used as a part-task trainer; the targeted elements of human performance consist of improvements in situational awareness and human perceptual skills when evaluating heights during parachute jumping. The results of the user study suggest that, much like with the evaluation of horizontal distances, people make systematic errors when evaluating vertical distances. A real-time, interactive virtual environment and training scenarios presented to the trainees inside the virtual reality headset have the potential to help improve trainees’ situational awareness and allow them to practice evaluating the heights more precisely during the landing phase. As a result, this approach may reduce the likelihood of accidents, increase training, and positively affect the level of units’ operational readiness.
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