Each year at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) show, training simulators are one of the biggest attractions on the exhibition floor. Simulator manufacturers use IACP to show off their latest models and newest features and let potential customers take them for a test drive. Here's the training simulators that caught our attention at this year's show.
Meggitt Training Systems
Meggitt introduced two new major use-of-force simulator products at this year's IACP, the FATS 100P portable system and a screen that enables simulator training on a live fire range.
The FATS 100P portable system includes all the tools necessary to conduct accuracy or judgmental training, including a laptop computer, software, a projector, hit marker, and speakers in a portable and lightweight package. It comes in a carrying case the size of a large range bag for easy transportation.
Meggitt ships the FATS 100P with more than 250 high-definition video scenarios with 1,250 branching options for escalation and de-escalation training. In addition, integrated video authoring allows the instructor to create, edit, score, load, and run customer content filmed locally in familiar locations. Up to six "weapons," including Meggitt's BlueFire wireless weapons, can be used simultaneously on the system.
Meggitt's full-size live-fire screen allows users to train on a shooting range with live ammunition while scenarios are displayed on the screen through the FATS 100LE system. Optical measurement of the bullet in flight determines hit positioning, which means the system can quickly discriminate between two shots fired in quick succession.
To protect the system, all electronic equipment, including projection, is located above the top of the screen and is typically installed to the ceiling behind an existing range baffle.
This eliminates the need for heavy and bulky steel frames common in other systems, the company says.
The self-healing screen is designed to withstand up to 50,000 rounds over the entire surface area before replacement or repair.
New features in MILO Range systems were announced at IACP. The goal is to make the training scenarios offered in the company's latest products much more realistic and stressful.
Robert McCue, MILO Range Training Systems' general manager, says the company is adding tools to its products that instructors can use to train officers how to respond to the current conditions they face on the job. For example, the training can now incorporate activating a body-worn camera when policy would require it in the scenario. Also, scenarios now include civil unrest and escalation/de-escalation training. "We are responding to situations officers see in today's society," McCue says.
In addition, MILO has added a distraction device to its systems. Over the years, some manufacturers have had shoot-back systems where officers could be hit by plastic projectiles fired by air cannons, but McCue says such "pain penalty" distractions have proven to be ineffective. MILO is actually using science to create a distraction device that students will find extremely stressful, he says.
MILO's new distraction feature involves irritating sounds and bright lights. The sound and light distraction is controlled by the instructor and can be set to go off randomly. Instructors can even monitor the student's heart rate and other stress factors while conducting the training and adjust the stress level accordingly.
MILO offers a variety of simulators, ranging in complexity from its immersive multiple screen Theater system to more basic single-screen models.
The Theater system is available in 180- and 300-degree configurations with full HD video on each screen. Features include: touchscreen and wireless tablet control, lethal and less-lethal weapon options, and support for up to 16 trainees.
The Training Lab from Ti Training is designed to be a versatile use-of-force and firearms simulator. It can be used under normal lighting conditions and configured to fit a variety of available spaces and training missions.
At this year's IACP, the company demonstrated how the system can be set up in a 180-degree configuration or angled for a more immersive experience. The 180-degree configuration is very well suited to firearms training and the wrap-around configuration is well suited to use-of-force scenarios, as threats can come from different directions. Training Lab can even be projected on a wall.
The more than 800 scenarios and skill-building exercises provided with Training Lab and produced by Ti are shot with Red digital cameras, the same system used by Hollywood studios to produce major motion pictures. This production quality lets users project life-size images in 9x16 high-definition format. Ti is constantly updating its scenarios to meet new learning objectives and tactical training options. Owners of the system receive scenario updates at no additional charge. Users can even submit their own ideas for future training scenarios on the Ti website (www.titraining.com).
Training Lab runs on commonly available hardware, and the company says it is easily upgradeable for both software updates and adding options such as additional weapons. It's also portable. It packs into two carrying cases with a total weight of 60 pounds.
Standard features of the Training Lab include: picture-in-picture playback, interactive briefing tools, scene magnification for zooming in on detail in the scenario, accommodation for 18 participants during a training session, weapons control that includes instructor-initiated malfunctions, ability to author and upload your own scenarios, and printable training reports. Available options include: a variety of less-lethal tools, return fire air cannon, tetherless recoil for handguns and long guns, and environmental conditions such as light and fog. Training Lab can also be used on a live fire range with the option of a live fire laser and without a special screen.
VirTra is best known for its V-300 ultra-immersive training simulator, which allows officers to train in a 300-degree environment with potential threats coming from almost all directions. The training environment can be made even more realistic with the addition of an optional 2,000-watt audio system. With five separate screens, the V-300 is large enough to accommodate 15 independent firing lanes for marksmanship training.
In addition to the V-300, the company also makes smaller systems, ranging from single-screen units such as the V-100 to the multiple-screen V-180. They all offer judgment scenarios taken from actual after-action reports of officer-involved incidents. The scenarios are shot in high-resolution video or rendered in CGI, depending on customer requirements and different situations. Generally, this means high-resolution video is used for simulation of humans closer than 100 feet in a scenario but either video or CGI beyond that simulated distance.
Options include Threat-Fire. This wireless electronic impulse device is normally worn around the student's mid-section and provides a momentary shock at the instructor's discretion. There is also a vibration-only version. The system runs on an internal rechargeable battery pack that is easily charged, VirTra says.
At IACP VirTra showed its scenario authoring suite, V-Author. The V-Author software suite allows users of VirTra simulators to create and edit their own training scenarios. VirTra says users can take a photo and import it into a scenario as a panoramic background and then add characters from the supplied custom character palette and drag and drop them into the image. More sophisticated users can choose V-Author Pro, which allows them to shoot their own scenarios. The Pro version comes with Adobe After Effects, Quicktime 7 Pro, panoramic stitching software, and Autopan Giga3. It also comes with backgrounds, props, reactive targets, still targets, and special effects users can add to their scenarios. V-Author training is available from VirTra.