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16 April 2021 (Champaign, IL) – Vertex was awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the USAF Research Lab (USAFRL, Wright-Patterson AFB) under USAF X21.1 SBIR Commercial Solutions Offering (CSO) (Topic AF211-CSO1). The grant, conferred on small businesses that “stimulate technological innovation,” with a focus in this case on defense-related dual-use technologies, will fund Vertex’s preliminary testing and demonstration of a mixed-reality (MR) multi-crew training capability.
“Crew resource management (CRM) is a critical part of any mission,” said Jim Wise (USAF Ret.), Vertex Director of Business Development. “Many of the CRM training events, however, lack any practical, applied, immersive learning experiences. Crewmembers can only be assessed in high-fidelity simulators or actual aircraft, both of which require significant resources, present higher risks to personnel and equipment, and are available in only limited quantities.”
To fill this gap, part of the Phase I effort will be researching the optimal hardware-software combination to develop a best-value MR training device that facilitates realistic aircrew-to-aircrew collaboration and communication in virtual training environments.
“We know that safe and efficient mission execution demands effective CRM,” Wise said. “A successful MR/XR capability will increase CRM training throughput and effectiveness, reducing risk at every level, including during operational missions.”
Vertex expects to complete the study in June and pursue a Phase II SBIR grant focused on integrating the technological solution developed under Phase I to leverage XR technologies in mission-critical CRM training for the first time.