With estimates pegging the global market for military metaverse technology at up to £17bn by the year 2030, the ability to build a large-scale virtual world which can be used to conduct and analyse a full-scale war has obvious benefits.
Metaverse technology can allow hundreds or even thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen to train on a scale that would otherwise cost millions of pounds to stage for real.
The Warton metaverse, named Project Odyssey, is a private initiative part-funded to the tune of £2m by BAE Systems, although a recent Ministry of Defence contract for “populating the world of training” seems closely related to it.
Seven tech startups from around the UK have pooled their technical expertise over the last 12 months to make Project Odyssey operational.
Tim Colebrooke, a training strategy manager with BAE Systems, says the project is ahead of the rest of the world in terms of what it can achieve: “This kind of capability is not available in the UK at the moment. The United States military has similar capabilities but it’s not a single synthetic environment like this one.”
Mimi Keshani, co-founder of tech startup Hadean, explains that the tech underpinning the metaverse part of Project Odyssey has been successfully tested with around 60,000 computer-generated "entities" active at one time.
“What you're seeing today is a collection of disparate simulators traditionally used to train individuals,” says Mr Colebrooke. “We’re able to bring all of that together in a single synthetic environment.
“All of those simulators you're looking at are seeing the same common operating picture, the same version of the world,” he enthuses.
A short distance from the Project Odyssey building stands an English Electric Lightning, guarding the entrance to Warton airfield.
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