Case Study Maintenance Trainer

MillieModels’ team of software developers, programmers and animators worked together to successfully integrate three commercially off the shelf (COTS) products to design and develop a fully functional training simulator that has never been built before emphasizing a new “training thru immersion” approach.  We planned, analyzed, designed, developed, and implemented a new Maintenance Trainer (Proof of Principle) of the M-TADS for the Apache PMO.  This technology incorporated Autostereoscopic 3D monitors, haptic gloves, X-Box 360 Kinects tracking system and the Unity game engine.  Students and instructors are able to see a virtual 3D model of the M-TADS appearing outside of the monitor without requiring the use of glasses or specialized head gear. This technology also allows users to experience the maintenance process in a safe environment. 


From the steps and processes listed in the Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM), we outlined the flow and direction necessary for students to successfully accomplish the end result of Removing, Inspecting and Reinstalling the M-TADS unit virtually.  We determined the most effective training approach to be a combination of steps requiring direct student involvement with the haptic glove as well as embedded animations to illustrate common tasks such as unscrewing multiple screws.  A storyboard was created for each of the steps and sub-steps. 
From the storyboard, including written instructions, photos of equipment and links to reference videos, each of the steps and sub-steps listed in the IETM were implemented virtually as well as a virtual environment students are able to move within, this included creating 3D models of the aircraft, internal components (i.e. plugs, sensors, turret covers), necessary tools (i.e. screw driver), tables and hanger bay.  Each model was photo realistic quality and able to be interacted with thru use of the Haptic glove. 

We determined that utilizing the X-Box 360 Kinects to track the arm movement of the non-haptic glove arm would allow students a functional and direct way to control the movement of their avatar within the virtual environment without interfering with the necessary steps to complete the maintenance tasks.  To continue with the theme of training thru immersion, it was determined that students would be required to incorporate movement of the entire body to successfully complete the “Inspection” phase, for example to zoom in on the equipment the student is required to physically move closer to the monitor and as they assume a slightly crouched position or lean side to side their perspective within the virtual world is adjusted accordingly providing them with a training experience that is more representative of the real world.  
Our programmers implemented the Software Development Plan and successfully created custom coding needed to incorporate use of the Z-plane axis.  This coding is what provided the ‘depth’ perception to the Haptic glove, ensuring that the tactile sensations provided by the glove matched with the placement of the 3D model within the Autostereoscopic monitor, the final requirement of training thru immersion.

At both Alpha and Beta testing events, the current visual, software and interactive qualities were evaluated for their successfulness in creating a cohesive learning environment.  With instruction from the Technical POC, our PM outlined appropriate adjustments to ensure customer satisfaction of final product.  Adjustments were provided to animators, software programmers and developers thru updated storyboards and internal memos. 

MillieModels’ final deliverable was a fully functional training simulator demonstration that had never been successfully created before, providing students with the next level of training thru immersion.  Within 10 days from final demonstration, an Archive CD was delivered to Contracting Officer containing all Monthly Meeting Minutes, Program Progress Reports, Technical Review Meeting Slides, Milestone Meeting Slides, initial Integrated Master Schedules and updates, Software Development Plan and completed software code.