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Because HLA has so many configuration options, it can be frustrating to learn that your system isn’t communicating when you think everything is set up correctly. The MÄK RTI team works very hard to make it as easy to use as possible, but sometimes things go wrong. HLA federations can be very complicated.

Luckily, the new MÄK RTI 4.2 provides a revamped RTI Assistant that will help you find the problem and fix it faster than ever. In this blog, we will identify and attempt to remedy the most common problems.

Are all the federates correctly connected?
Double clicking on your RTI Assistant tray icon opens up the Federations View. 

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Last week MÄK exhibited at the LAAD Defence & Security Exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, along with our local reseller OpenCadd. The biennial event brings together Brazilian and international companies specialized in supplying equipment, services and technology to the Armed Forces, Police and Special Forces, Security Services, consultants, and government agencies.

This year seemed to be the largest show to date, taking up 3 large pavilions, each with a variety of local companies and system integrators, as well as a large South American and international participation. The event consisted of a variety of offerings from very large trucks and armored vehicles to marine simulation training devices.

At the exhibition, MÄK demonstrated the latest upcoming features of VR-Vantage version 1.6 Marine capabilities, which received a lot of attention, interest, and complimentary comments as well as showing the latest product releases of VR-Forces v4.1.1, VR-Exchange v2.2, and the Data Logger v5.2.1.

It is always good to see and visit with MÄK’s and OpenCadd’s existing Brazilian customers!  We were also happy to introduce our modeling and simulation portfolio of products and solution offerings to those interested in our suite of software tools.

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Once the VR-Forces 4.1 release was completed and uploaded to the FTP site, we decided to have the VR-Forces team relax a little and express their creativity to see what could be accomplished with the new Scripted Task feature of VR-Forces.

If you haven’t already heard about it, Scripted Tasking is a brand new feature in VR-Forces 4.1 that brings scripting to the forefront and allows any VR-Forces user with even just a little programming or hacking skills build their own tasks and behaviors.  We’ve incorporated the well known Lua scripting language into the base VR-Forces, and allowed access to much of the VR-Forces API.  New tasks that you write can now be saved directly into a scenario, and easily exchanged among users.

Using this feature, it is possible to create all sorts of new tasks and behaviors in VR-Forces by combining any of the existing tasks, passing messages between entities, and inspecting the state of various elements in the simulation.  To see just how flexible the scripting interface is, we had one simple rule:  Make any behaviors you want!

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VR-Forces 4.1 introduces significant changes to the Move to Waypoint and Move to Location tasks.

Ever since VR-Forces 3.8 (back in 2005), Move to Waypoint and Move to Location tasks have offered the options to move directly to the destination or to plan a path. When path planning was enabled, if the entity identified a vector road network between the start point and destination, it tried to use the road network for the appropriate segment of the movement task. In VR-Forces 4.0, we introduced Road Following, an improved algorithm for moving along roads. Unfortunately, vehicles often had problems making the transition from off-road movement to moving on roads, which resulted in poor vehicle behavior.

To solve this problem, in VR-Forces 4.1, we have separated the direct movement and road following tasks. The result is better overall vehicle movement at the cost of slightly less realistic transitions from off-road movement to road following. We now have three flavors of the Move to Waypoint and Move to Location tasks:

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We are almost ready to release our beta version of VR-Link for Unity - an HLA/DIS Interoperability module for the Unity Engine!  The official 1.0 release is scheduled for late February.  Meanwhile, you can see a quick demo video here.

On the right, you’ll see a helicopter flying a route in VR-Forces. And on the left, you’ll see that same helicopter being reflected in real-time into a Unity-based sample application - over HLA through the new VR-Link for Unity asset.  For this demo, we used Unity’s well-known "bootcamp" sample terrain, which we also loaded into VR-Forces by exporting it as a height field and image.  And through VR-Link for Unity’s model-mapping GUI, we mapped the HLA entity type to a pre-existing Unity helicopter asset.

VR-Link for Unity gives you access to HLA/DIS objects and interactions directly from Unity’s standard C# scripting and development environment, so that your Unity applications become natively HLA and DIS compliant.  But since the module is built on our traditional C++ VR-Link libraries, it supports all the various flavors of HLA and DIS and works with any RTI that conforms to the appropriate HLA standards.  You can also leverage VR-Link’s FOM mapping capability to support custom HLA FOMs.  If you’re building M&S applications on the Unity Engine, and are interested in DIS/HLA interoperability, we’d love to hear from you.  If you are interested in participating in our beta program, or even just willing to help by describing some of your Unity-based projects, please drop us a note at info@mak.com!

We are almost ready to release our beta version of VR-Link for Unity - an HLA/DIS Interoperability module for the Unity Engine!  The official 1.0 release is scheduled for late February.  Meanwhile, you can see a quick demo video here: ftp://ftp.mak.com/VR-LinkForUnity.mp4
On the right, you’ll see a helicopter flying a route in VR-Forces. And on the left, you’ll see that same helicopter being reflected in real-time into a Unity-based sample application - over HLA through the new VR-Link for Unity asset.  For this demo, we used Unity’s well-known "bootcamp" sample terrain, which we also loaded into VR-Forces by exporting it as a height field and image.  And through VR-Link for Unity’s model-mapping GUI, we mapped the HLA entity type to a pre-existing Unity helicopter asset.

VR-Link for Unity gives you access to HLA/DIS objects and interactions directly from Unity’s standard C# scripting and development environment, so that your Unity applications become natively HLA and DIS compliant.  But since the module is built on our traditional C++ VR-Link libraries, it supports all the various flavors of HLA and DIS and works with any RTI that conforms to the appropriate HLA standards.  You can also leverage VR-Link’s FOM mapping capability to support custom HLA FOMs.  If you’re building M&S applications on the Unity Engine, and are interested in DIS/HLA interoperability, we’d love to hear from you.  If you are interested in participating in our beta program, or even just willing to help by describing some of your Unity-based projects, please drop us a note at unity@mak.com!
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We’re here at the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) annual conference in Washington D.C. with transportation professionals from around the world; we’ve seen members of federal, state, and local governments, along with plenty of researchers from universities.

In this exposition of very robust and specific traffic simulations, MÄK’s web-based traffic simulation, TurboTraffic, is making quite a splash. The ability to quickly define traffic flows on the road network (provided in the cloud from OpenStreetMap), assign a volume of traffic, and then immediately see cars flowing into intersections is causing people to think of new applications. This "quick sketch" style lets non-experts create traffic where they previously would have hired a traffic consultant or simply gone without.

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I recently found I could use WebLVC as helpful tool in the process of building a terrain database. I have been developing a terrain database for use in our VR-Forces and VR-Vantage demos at I/ITSEC. A good portion of that work involves populating the terrain with feature details such as trees, streetlights, fire hydrants, etc. On a given street corner, I need to make a number of decisions about what features to add to the terrain. Is there an office building there and how tall should it be?  How many trees are planted out in front of the building? Is there a streetlight on this corner? Given that I start out with 1 meter/pixel satellite imagery, I simply don’t have that information available.

It turns out that Google Earth has the detailed information I need in its Street View mode. In Google Earth I can fly to a particular street corner, and if Street View data is available at that location, I can get a photographic panorama of the terrain at that location. Now I just need to fly around to the correct location in Google Earth, look at the buildings and vegetation, and compare it with a view of the same location of the terrain I’m building in VR-Vantage. I have a way to see the actual terrain detail from Street View, and let it inform me as to where to create those details in the terrain I’m building. 

So where does WebLVC come in? With a few minor modifications to the WebLVC 3D Viewer app, I can easily synchronize those views, flying from location to location in VR-Vantage to examine my terrain and compare it to the real-world detail in Google Earth Street View. The WebLVC 3D Viewer application provides a Google Earth view, and has the ability to listen for and attach its viewpoint to simulated entities. In this case, the simulated entity is the published VR-Vantage observer. With VR-Vantage running, I open a web browser, specifying the WebLVC 3D Viewer URL. I then attached to the VR-Vantage observer entity, and now the viewpoints are sync’d. Synchronizing the views this way saves a considerable amount of time, compared to manually flying around in Google Earth, trying to match the location and orientation of the observer viewpoint in VR-Vantage.

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G’day! Last week VT MÄK, along with our technology partner’s Simulation Solution Australia (SimSol) and local reseller JM Computing, attended and exhibited at the Land Warfare conference that was held at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

Land Warfare Conference (LWC) is a major event for users, providers, academics, designers, and manufacturers to meet, present, share, and exchange new and visionary ideas in Land Systems and operations.

The conference was well attended by the industries major systems integrators. However, there was a small presence of modeling and simulation solutions at the show. Only a handful of simulation companies were on hand, which allowed MÄK and SimSol to spend quality time with visitors showing our latest ISR Lab demonstration based on our core technology products such VR-Forces, VR-Vantage, and partner modules AGI SimMetrics, Disti GL-Studio, and JRM SensorFX.

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While VR-Exchange has always supported DIS and HLA through the RPR FOM (multiple versions), this year MÄK is making a concerted effort to broaden our support for other commonly used FOMs and protocols.

To this end, we have recently added several new brokers to support FOMs used extensively by the US DoD. We have started with a broker to support the MATREX Federation. We currently support MATREX version 7.x, but will upgrade to version 8.0 when it is released later this year. In the past we have had limited support for MATREX via a FOM Mapper plug-in. While this limited approach worked, we believe it was not very robust. All new translation to the MATREX FOM is done through a new stand-alone broker, offering robust and MATREX-specific translation options. Additionally, we are pleased to announce support for the Joint Land Component Constructive Training Capability (JLCCTC) Multi-Resolution Federation (MRF). We will also begin work on JLCCTC-Entity Resolution Federation (ERF) support in the coming months.

As with all new VR-Exchange FOM support, translation between these and other protocols and object models can be complicated. Depending on what protocols you want to bridge between, the object model may or may not support robust translation capabilities. Additionally,VR-Exchange has not been extended to support all the objects in any of these FOMs. As has been our historical practice, we will continue to expand translation based on the needs of our customers. Let us know what you need and we will be happy to figure out ways to make your exercise successful, in addition to explaining limitations you may face.

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Recently the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012 Air show was held in the South African Waterkloof Air Force Base in Centurion City of Tshwane, South Africa. The Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), a MAK customer, exhibited and presented VR-Vantage and the Hawaiian database provided by VR-TheWorld Server as part of their helicopter simulator in the CSIR booth exhibits.

Steve Haselum, CSIR, Systems Engineering Manager, commented on the event: "Back in the office now but after a successful Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012. The helicopter simulator system was certainly a crowd puller...there was quite a lot of interest in both the visual and database."

The helicopter visual system was spanning across three 65" LCD Panels providing a 150 degree field of view display. General exhibitor and visitor responses were"¦"the visuals and Hawaiian database looked really good."

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Recently the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012 Air show was held in the South African Waterkloof Air Force Base in Centurion City of Tshwane, South Africa. The Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), a MAK customer, exhibited and presented VR-Vantage and the Hawaiian database provided by VR-TheWorld Server as part of their helicopter simulator in the CSIR booth exhibits.

Steve Haselum, CSIR, Systems Engineering Manager, commented on the event: "Back in the office now but after a successful Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012. The helicopter simulator system was certainly a crowd puller...there was quite a lot of interest in both the visual and database."

The helicopter visual system was spanning across three 65 LCD Panels providing a 150 degree field of view display. General exhibitor and visitor responses were"¦"the visuals and Hawaiian database looked really good."

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Tradeshow | |

Last week, VT MÄK, along with our Brazilian regional representative OpenCadd, exhibited at SIGE XIV 2012. SIGE is an annual Symposium of Operational Applications in Areas of Defense and is an international event in its fourteenth edition.

This event was hosted at the Technological Institute of Aeronautics ITA facility in Sao Jose Dos Campos, Brazil. ITA is also the location and research center for the C4I lab where VR-Forces and complementary MÄK software are installed and used regularly.

This was the first year that VT MÄK and OpenCadd have exhibited together at SIGE. In addition to meeting existing customers/new attendees and demonstrating product features, such as VR-Forces v4.0.4 and our latest technology initiative, WebLVC,  MÄK also delivered formal presentations to the Brazilian Air Force titled "Building Model and Simulation Solutions" throughout the conference.

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In POL Part 1, I explained how you can specify the frequency and timing of entity spawning in a POL template. In this blog, I’ll explain what happens after entities get spawned.

The default behavior for a spawned entity is to randomly pick a sink point of the same type, walk or drive to the sink point, and be removed from the scenario. The default plan provides purposeful behavior for each entity and may be sufficient for your simulation.

First, let’s talk about sink points. Every spawn pattern automatically has a spawn point and sink point associated with it. For example, the Ped spawn pattern has Ped spawn points and Ped sink points. By default, entities created from a particular spawn point will look for a sink point of the same type. However, you can add waypoints or any other sink point to a spawn pattern and entities of that spawn type will choose among the additional sink points when they decide where to go.

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You’ve been hearing a lot lately about the Pattern of Life support in B-HAVE 2.0.4 for VR-Forces 4.0.4.  We’ve told you that you can automatically create realistic background traffic in your scenarios without laborious planning and route development. But what does it really mean? In this blog and its successor, I’ll drill down a bit into how POL works.

First of all, it isn’t really the Pattern of Life, it’s the Patterns of Life. When you use the POL feature, entities get created automatically at locations of your choice called spawn points (and we say that newly created entities are being spawned). The frequency and timing of their creation is controlled by templates. We provide templates for civilians and civilian vehicles. However, you can create as many templates as you want for creating any supported entity. You can also create multiple templates for any particular entity type that vary in the pattern of creation that they use. So, you really have multiple patterns at your fingertips. (continued...)

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I’m heading out today to the Fall SIW Conference in Orlando - the semi-annual Simulation Interoperability Workshop hosted by SISO (www.sisostds.org).  As usual, MAK is participating in many ways:

  • We will have a booth in the Exhibit Hall, Monday through Wednesday - showing off all of our products of course, but with a particular focus on the Interoperability products. 
  • I am proud to be chairing a new SISO Study Group on WebLVC. WebLVC is a new protocol we have proposed as a starting point for a eventual consensus-based SISO Standard.  It is designed to support interoperability between web-based client applications and traditional modeling and simulation federations.  The WebLVC Study Group meeting is Wednesday, September 12, at 1:30pm. 
  • We will be giving a presentation at the newly-resurrected RPR FOM Product Development Group on Wednesday morning - on the technical history of the RPR FOM. 
  • Aaron Dubois, our Product Development Manager for Link Products will be giving a product capabilities presentation as part of the LVC Tools Workshop session on Thursday afternoon, September 13, at 4:00pm. (continued...)
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Help spread the word about modeling and simulation!

 
As co-chair of the National Modeling and Simulation Coalition (NMSC) Communications, Outreach and Public Affairs Committee I’d like to invite you all to attend the business meeting being held at VMASC in Suffolk, VA on Wednesday 26th September. The meeting is being held as part of the NTSA M&S Multi-Con(continued...)
 
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Can’t seem to figure out why the play/pause/rewind buttons in VR-Forces are disabled? Wondering why you can’t create/load new scenarios in VR-Forces? I originally posted this question/answer in our forum “ since it’s a common problem, we wanted to point it out here as well.

Usually this means the front-end and the back-end are not talking to each other. This could be the result of a number of things, ranging from your own network to a firewall problem.

If you’ve eliminated all possibilities of your computer interfering with itself, it is likely that you have two network cards on your computer. When this is the case, you need to specify a device address in the VR-Forces launcher dialog box. It conveniently has a drop down box of IP addresses you can select from. Usually the first non-127.0.0.1 address is sufficient. Select this and launch VR-Forces from here. If the buttons are still disabled, we encourage you to let us know, either here or on the original forum post.

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Each HLA object must have an object name that is unique throughout the federation execution. When an object is registered, the federate can provide a name or let the RTI supply an object name. In the HLA 1.3 specification, when the federate supplies the name, it is up to the federate to make sure that the name is unique. If it isn’t, the RTI throws an exception. The HLA 1516 specification lets you reserve names to ensure that they are unique.

By default, the VR-Link publishers perform name reservation and object reservation at the same time - when the publisher is created. The name reservation process requires a round trip handshake between the local RTI component (LRC) and the rtiexec. Therefore, performing it just before an object is registered can delay the object registration process. If the federate is simulating a limited number of objects that are created at start up, this overhead is negligible. However, if the federate is creating many 100s of objects or if an object is being created in a time critical fashion (say a missile fly out), the delay caused by name reservation can become significant. One way to avoid the name reservation delay is to perform the name reservations ahead of time before the objects are registered. VR-Link can do this. (continued...)

To reserve names in advance, your VR-Link application needs to make name reservation calls. If the calls are performed through the exercise connection, the results are cached. When an object publisher is created, it first checks to see if the name is already reserved. If so, the name reservation call is skipped. We have a code snippet that shows how to do this, but it is a bit too long for this blog. We have put it on the MÄK Community Forum in the Link-Interoperate section. If you want to see the code and a somewhat more detailed explanation of this issue, click here!

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When selling toolkits, we run into the same kind of problems that people selling hammers have. Most people won’t believe that the tool can build a house unless I show them a house built with the tool. With our software toolkits, many customers want to see the possibilities that the API is capable of. Because of this, many of the demos that we create have a touch of customization to them, some more than others. However, we always do it in a way that a customer can replicate when they are working with our APIs and we do it through the magic of plugins. Demos including dynamic terrain and video streaming are all implemented as plugins. (continued...)

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VR-Forces 4.0.4 gives you Pattern of Life with B-HAVE, enabling you to quickly and easily add realistic background traffic into your simulation. But that’s not all, folks. We’ve put together a (non-exhaustive) list of more additions and improvements we’ve made to VR-Forces! Contact us if you have questions or concerns.

Radar Modes - Being able to configure named modes for radar systems is an important part of electronic warfare (EW). VR-Forces now allows users to configure multiple named modes for radar systems. A named mode could be “off” or &ldquolow power&rdquo or &ldquosearch”. This is all done through configuration files. The F18 has two modes "Track" and "Search". Users can create new specific modes and then set them through plans. (continued...)

Entity Editor Model Configuration - The Entity Editor has been significantly overhauled to allow users to configure 2D icons and 3D models directly from the Entity Editor GUI. You can also show the bounding volume of the entity in relation to the 3D model. If you select a sensor, you can show where the sensor is placed on the vehicle with relation to the model.

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