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US Army Futures Command brings new technology to Master Gunner School

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, Nate Snook, Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team, reports.
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The Augmented Reality Maintainer-Operator Relay System (ARMORS) is a collaborative initiative between the Army Applications Lab, Taqtile Inc. and the Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team (Picture source: U.S. Army)

"In the Master Gunner School, the implementation of ARMORS (Augmented Reality Maintainer-Operator Relay System) is hailed as a game-changer, according to Maj. Edwin Vasquez, the Technology Integration Facility Director for the Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team. He emphasized that ARMORS goes beyond a mere upgrade, as it promises faster problem-solving, reduced downtime, and improved training outcomes.

This initiative, a collaboration between Army Futures Command’s Army Applications Laboratory, the Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team, and Taqtile Inc., a small business innovation research company, aims to harness cutting-edge technology for military utility.

The ARMORS system includes three iPads, two Microsoft HoloLens Head Mounted Displays, and three hotspots, enabling live remote assistance for master gunners during training exercises. Targeted primarily at students and instructors at the Master Gunner Schools, ARMORS leverages augmented reality to enhance the training experience for those responsible for leading and training Soldiers.

The inspiration for ARMORS originated from a desire to modernize the Army maintenance system, as explained by Thomas Mead, the ARMORS Primary Program Manager at the Army Applications Laboratory. Mead highlighted the need to digitize the system using the available digital tools.

ARMORS comprises two core components: digital work instructions using augmented reality and live remote assistance and collaboration. It provides digitized training manuals with enhanced content, including images, videos, and augmented reality overlays. The remote assist capability allows experts to troubleshoot and problem-solve in real-time through augmented reality, facilitating efficient learning and maintenance.

Sgt. First Class Kenneth Shelton, a Bradley Master Gunner Instructor, recognized the practicality of ARMORS for teaching the newer generation of Soldiers, who are more technology-oriented. Providing students with headsets for homework assignments aids in information retention and accelerates learning. The ARMORS project values feedback from master gunners and aims to address any gaps in their training needs. Soldier touchpoints, like the recent one at Fort Moore, Georgia, provide valuable insights and improve the system. Sgt. First Class Paul Tharaldsen, a 19K Abrams Instructor, highlighted the system's usefulness in recreating real-world scenarios, making training more effective.

The next Soldier touchpoint and feedback session for ARMORS is scheduled for May 2024, demonstrating the commitment to continuous improvement and innovation in Soldier training."

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During a recent Soldier touchpoint at the Master Gunner School at Fort Moore, Georgia, instructors familiarize themselves with the head-up display and iPads as they test the remote assistance capability (Picture source: U.S. Army)

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