Press Release

Johns Hopkins APL’s Augmented Reality Toolbox Helps Army Improve Situational Awareness

Fri, 09/24/2021 - 14:37

Military forces that can understand and act together across the domains of land, air, sea, cyber and space will hold the upper hand in what military commanders refer to as decision dominance: the ability to sense, understand, decide, act and assess faster and more effectively than any adversary. To that end, the Department of Defense has undertaken an effort — Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) — to connect sensors from all of the military services into a single network.

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, is working with the U.S. Army as part of this effort to develop the Joint All-Domain Operational Tool Suite (JADOTS), an experimental prototype for the Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) that leverages augmented reality to provide situational awareness, targeting and operational intelligence preparation for military units.

APL is the lead integrator for JADOTS, developing most of the software applications, providing training for the end users and leading the experimentation alongside operators from the Army. The Army is benefiting from investments made by other government sponsors to advance the technology integrated within JADOTS to a point where the Army can leverage it to meet the needs of the MDTF.

The work stems from an APL project named Cygnus, a multi-domain common operating picture prototype that taps into a suite of tools to allow leaders to receive, consolidate, fuse, graph and overlay data from multiple sources at the required security levels into a single deployable unit. JADOTS uses augmented reality (AR) to enhance leaders’ view of a complex battlefield to develop a shared understanding.

Key to JADOTS’ visualization is the Augmented Reality Mission Operations UseR eXperience (ArmourX), an APL-developed tool that brings the flat-map world into 3D for better understanding of the complex, invisible and nonlethal aspects of the operational environment, explained Ralph Siegrist, the JADOTS principal investigator within APL’s Space Exploration Sector.

“It also provides geographically distributed AR for remote viewing and briefing of the operational overlays or layers within the user-defined display,” he said. “This means a leader forward in one operations center can see and get briefed by another interacting with the same virtual environment.”