The US Army is planning to develop a virtual world to train its troops as part of new scheme to use technology more.
The plan is to build an online multiplayer environment similar to that used in Second Life, allowing the army to simulate events as part of its training exercises. Soldiers will create an avatar which has artificial intelligence and will traverse a world very similar to Earth.
They will communicate via instant messaging and voice. The army expects to be able to support 10,000 soldiers on its servers for the initial run, but many more once it becomes more established.
There will be some really interesting features, including live weather changes that reflect what’s going on outside for an even more realistic effect. Soldiers will also be able to view the world through a weapon scope, allowing them to adapt to this unusual persective before they enter the training fields. It also plans to incorporate GPS tracking after a few years of development.
This isn’t the first time the US Army has used online gaming as part of its program. In 2008 the US Air Force set up a virtual air base called MyBase in Second Life. If that were not enough, for nearly the last ten years the US Army has been providing a free series of games called America’s Army which to some is simply a first person shooter, but to the US Army is a recruitment tool.
The US Army is also employing other means to keep its forces at the head of the technological pack. It is currently giving soldiers iPhones and Android devices as part of a scheme called Connecting Soliders to Digital Applications. Before long soldiers may spend more time online than on the fields of battle. That’s probably a good thing.