This convergence of worlds goes beyond building a single multiple-use environment. “There are two key paths,” Breed says. “One is the platform-specific user, such as a person driving a vehicle or flying a plane. In these cases, we’ve always wanted higher fidelity and better visuals.” This, he says, correlates to a single-player game.But there’s another side, for force-on-force coordination. “We need large-scale environments to train pilots and co-pilots in interactions with civilians, or how to manage large groups of operators, or how to interact with aerospace systems in general,” Breed continues.
This leads to what Breed refers to as a “tapestry” in a single environment, all living in Unreal Engine. Rather than having to bolt dozens of plugins to an OS with a disk or high-level architecture interface—and unavoidably losing some capability or fidelity along the way—the engine can handle all virtual instructor capabilities, such as triggering an action or reaction of another role player, and thus impacting all the role players in the scenario.
“Having everything in Unreal Engine hits the points we want to reach,” says Breed, “including the persistent nature, the scalability nature, and the collective training aspects of it as well.”
Monolithic versus open architecture
Breed is quick to stress that moving from multiple applications to a single platform isn’t a return to the monoblock, monolithic simulation applications of 30 years ago. While a monolithic architecture comes with many benefits, such as simplified processes and better performance, the open nature of Unreal Engine means that developers can also create individual pieces and swap them out as needed.
Breed states that having the advantage of both monolithic and open architecture means that Lockheed Martin can use either approach, or both, when creating a solution—and do it better, faster, and cheaper than ever before. “I think it’s the first instance where we can really leverage both sides of that coin and create a product that meets the customer’s needs either way,” he says.
Taking such an approach means that Lockheed Martin can also form more partnerships and leverage a lot more of the commercial industry than ever before. “Using Unreal Engine has made partnering and even workshare much easier,” Breed states, “because both teams can work in parallel and then join together, and still be confident it will work.”
Because Lockheed Martin recognizes that the aerospace industry is focused on stability, accuracy, and repeatability, the goal is not to throw out existing systems, but to retain what’s working and incrementally improve it. “We’re looking to do bits and pieces and enhance our systems as we progress,” says Breed. “And then, as time goes on, we’ll be able to simplify and enhance our systems further.
“We support systems that go on for decades—in fact, we’re still maintaining some systems from 10 years ago as well,” he says. “Unreal Engine is showing that maybe the old way of doing things can be enhanced by some new pieces.”
Source: Unreal Engine Blog