Next Generation Infantry Heads-up Displays for Close-Air Support

Navy SBIR 22.2 - Topic N222-119
ONR - Office of Naval Research
Opens: May 18, 2022 - Closes: June 15, 2022 (12:00pm est)    [ View Q&A ]

N222-119 TITLE: Next Generation Infantry Heads-up Displays for Close-Air Support

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human Systems; Information Systems

OBJECTIVE: Develop next-generation daytime heads-up displays (HUDs) to provide training aids, operational tools, and situation awareness (SA) visualizations to improve the speed and quality of decision making by Marine Corps Ground Forces, specifically for close-air support (CAS) and call-for-fire (CFF).

DESCRIPTION: Ground forces must make rapid decisions in complex situations, such as requesting CAS, deconflicting airspace, and providing target information. In these situations, keeping heads-up and aware of the changing dynamics is critical. HUDs take advantage of augmented reality (AR) technologies to overlay information onto the battlefield and enhance SA. While HUD and AR systems have made progress in the past several years [Refs 1, 2], further innovation is required to develop systems for ground forces conducting CAS during daytime training and operations [Refs 3, 4]. Proposed solutions are sought to refine hardware and software requirements for Marine Corps use cases and deliver functional HUDs or HUD prototypes for next-generation AR HUD systems that can serve both as training aids and operational tools in CAS scenarios.

These systems must have maximum utility to Marines while maintaining survivability in a variety of complex environments. The display must be unobtrusive and mountable on existing Marine Corps helmet Night Vision Goggle (NVG) rails. The general device requirements are: (1) a low-cost (< $10,000) optical or video-see through HUD that is rugged (e.g., for outdoor use); (2) has a small form-factor; (3) is very low weight; (4) has ultra-low electronic power requirements; and (5) is capable of high-resolution operation. Specific device optical requirements include: (1) field-of-view (FOV) approaching 120 degrees width and 80 degrees height; (2) a blended, high-resolution 60 pixel/degree Field of View (FOV) across the foveated display area; and (3) a head-mounted display (HMD) with a refresh frame rate above 90 Hz. For requirements of form-factor size and weight, power requirements, and high-resolution operation (general device requirements 2-5), we are not identifying specific targets in this topic call. The solicitors expect performers to make trade-offs between the listed requirements and justify their decisions during Phase I. Priority should be given to higher resolution, lower latency, and smaller size and weight (in that order).

Proposals must detail how hardware and software systems will address physical ergonomics [Ref 5] and cognitive performance (i.e., situation awareness, decision making [Ref 6]) concerns for use in training and operations by Marine Corps Infantry. Proposals do not need to detail development of a complete AR system, but they must describe how they will investigate and evaluate their proposed hardware and software innovation. Development should be done with technologies that have little-to-no licensing fees for development or execution (e.g., Unity), and focus primarily on HUD systems, not AR-related technologies (e.g., tracking, object insertion, etc.). The training and operational use case of interest is daytime Marine Corps CFF and CAS missions.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for a low-cost (< $10,000), high-performance HUD to superimpose computer-generated information on an individual’s view of the real world. Demonstrate the feasibility of the selected concept (hardware/software HUD-centric system) to meet Marine Corps infantry needs through a set of specific Phase I deliverables.

Standard deliverables that are a part of every SBIR Phase I contract include: (1) kick-off brief; (2) progress reports; and (3) a final report. Additional deliverables include: (1) an initial prototype; (2) a computer aided design (CAD) mechanical design package showing the top-level device and all major sub-assemblies anticipated; and (3) trade-off design decisions and associated justification for system design and human factors considerations.

PHASE II: Develop at least two working proof-of-concept HUDs for the Marine Corps. Conduct critical design reviews. Demonstrate that initial capabilities are sufficient for existing AR training applications. Facilitate evaluation of the prototypes to determine their capability to meet Marine Corps needs and requirements for an augmented reality HUD.

Deliverables include: (1) a final bill-of-materials (BOM); (2) all CAD drawings, hardware schematics, software source code; and (3) at least two proof of concept devices for evaluation.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Marine Corps in transitioning the HUD system. Support the Marine Corps with integrating the HUD into existing AR training devices. Assist with certifying and qualifying the HUD system for Marine Corps use. Assist in writing Marine Corps device user manual(s) and system specifications/materials. As appropriate, focus on scaling up manufacturing capabilities and commercialization plans. Specific examples of commercial markets that could use this technology include manufacturing, law enforcement, and other hands-on tasks in time-critical domains.

REFERENCES:

  1. M. Sizintsev, A. Rajvanshi, H. -P. Chiu, K. Kaighn, S. Samarasekera and D. P. Snyder, "Multi-Sensor Fusion for Motion Estimation in Visually-Degraded Environments," 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robotics (SSRR), 2019, pp. 7-14, doi: 10.1109/SSRR.2019.8848958.
  2. Rozman, J. (2020). The Synthetic Training Environment. Spotlight SL, 20-6.
  3. Schaffer, R., Cullen, S., Cerritelli, L., Kumar, R., Samarasekera, S., Sizintsev, M. Branzoi, V. (2015). Mobile augmented reality for force-on-force training. Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference Proceedings.
  4. Samarasekera, S., Kumar, R., Zhu, Z., Branzoi, V., Vitovitch, N., Villamil, R., Garrity, P. (2014.) Live augmented reality-based weapon training for dismounts. Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference Proceedings.
  5. Rebensky, S., Carroll, M., Bennett, W., & Hu, X. (2021). Impact of Heads-up Displays on Small Unmanned Aircraft System Operator Situation Awareness and Performance: A Simulated Study. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 1-13
  6. Wickens, C. D., & Alexander, A. L. (2009). Attentional tunneling and task management in synthetic vision displays. The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 19(2), 182-199.

KEYWORDS: Augmented Reality; AR; Virtual Reality; VR; Heads-up-display; HUD; Training; Infantry; Close-Air Support; CAS; call-for-fire; CFF

** TOPIC NOTICE **

The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.2 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

The DoD issued its 22.2 SBIR BAA pre-release on April 20, 2022, which opens to receive proposals on May 18, 2022, and closes June 15, 2022 (12:00pm est).

Direct Contact with Topic Authors: During the pre-release period (April 20, 2022 thru May 17, 2022) proposing firms have an opportunity to directly contact the Technical Point of Contact (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the specific BAA topic. Once DoD begins accepting proposals on May 18, 2022 no further direct contact between proposers and topic authors is allowed unless the Topic Author is responding to a question submitted during the Pre-release period.

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** TOPIC Q&A **
Questions answered 5/10/22
Q1. What type of heads-up display is of interest?
A1. This topic is only focused on a daytime heads-up display unit.
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