Friday, February 22, 2008

Visualisation tool for South African defence industry

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a three-dimensional (3-D) simulation, visualisation and analysis tool that could benefit the defence industry.

“The South African scientific, defence and industrial research domains are looking more and more at modelling and simulation tools to save costs or advance their research and development capa- bilities and offerings,” says CSIR defence, peace, safety and security researcher Bernardt Duvenhage.

The Cyclops 2 visualisation and visual analysis tool is capable of visualising a synthetic environment with terrain and virtual objects inhabiting the environment.

“The synthetic environment has, to date, been used for visualising the experiment results from simu-lations of air-to-air missile target engagements, system-of-systems level ground-based air defence deployments, and even satellite ground coverage for surveillance,” says Duvenhage.

However, he says, it would also be possible to visualise experiment results from, for example, environmental impact or crowd behaviour simulations.

Duvenhage explains that the tool allows simulation data to be imported from live or logged simulation results through a transmission control protocol network connection or a log file. It allows live pause and replay of simulation results. The visualisation component may also be used as a dynamic-link library or shared library in many programming languages.

The simulation objects are displayed in a 3-D view, allowing the user to move around in a virtual world and to inspect the spatial and temporal relationships between objects.

The tool enables the user to add or draw information or objects that are not directly observable, such as radar detection cones, complex domes and ellipses or motion trails.

“The terrain database supports layered visual and digital elevation data and the inclusion of other geographical information science data,” says Duvenhage.

Further, through a hierarchical tree-based filter, the user can selectively hide unwanted visual details or objects, based on his requirements, to clear away objects to make the view less cluttered.

“The Cyclops 2 tool is based on experience gained during research and development work at the CSIR for at least the last ten years. Development on this latest version of the visualisation capability began in 2005, and is still continually being expanded as new requirements and new users emerge,” says Duvenhage.

He adds that any industry that does research that involves the environment around humans or human-machine environment interactions could potentially bene-fit from using a synthetic environment visualisation tool such as the Cyclops 2.

“The user group for this tool is still growing in size and we currently still have the opportunity to mould it to the direct needs of the users,” explains Duvenhage.

He concludes that the visualisation component of the tool makes use of a well-supported and rapidly developing open-source scene graph library. “This allows continued access to the latest visualisation techniques and the opportunity to contribute back to the open-source community."

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