Project OdySSEy – A glimpse of the Military Metaverse

Led and integrated by BAE Systems Air, powered by Hadean and supported by a range of innovative SMEs, Project OdySSEy set out to rethink collective training and create a metaverse-ready single synthetic environment (SSE) that enables air, land, sea, space and cyber forces to plug in and train together.

16 April 2023
John Cottrell

The result? A glimpse of the Military Metaverse and its immense potential for the Armed Forces.

“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”, reported The Telegraph – and so it can. The conflict scenario that unfolded at BAE Systems’ Warton base did not involve any physical presence of soldiers, aircraft or civilians. Rather, it was conducted in a room filled with servicemen and women from various branches of the Armed Forces, such as Royal Air Force pilots in flight simulators, Army troops wearing VR headsets crouching behind a simulated wall of sandbags, and surveillance drone and satellite intelligence teams working in front of large video screens. At the centre of it, however, was an underlying ecosystem of ambitious SMEs, including Inzpire Limited, Pitch Technologies, D3A Defence, PLEXSYS Interface Products, Inc., VRAI , PAULEY and uCrowds, supporting BAE Systems in their mission to deliver next-generation multi-domain training.

Project OdySSEy

The demonstration showed the hypothetical, peaceful nation of Cumbria being harassed by it’s northern neighbours, making it necessary for them to seek military assistance from their southern allies to uphold their freedom. A group of armoured vehicles is moving towards Coniston from Kendal, under the watchful eye of three Typhoon fighter jets, to provide assistance to the locals. However, one of the helicopters involved in the operation is attacked, resulting in the three countries being on the brink of war. 

Talking to Sky News, Mimi Keshani, Hadean COO & Co-Founder explains: “You’ve got a huge amount of complexities to manage, and different levels of fidelity from different people interacting. So in this system, we’ve got people in Typhoons and assets flying above the ground, we’ve got land forces. All of them need to see different things, but they need to see it in a common operating picture.” Powered by Hadean’s metaverse technology, the system exploits advanced AI, Machine Learning and cloud-based computing to host 60,000 entities and deliver an unprecedented scale for multi-domain training.

Off the back of the virtual exercise, The Telegraph reported that “the ability to build a large-scale virtual world which can be used to conduct and analyse a full-scale war has obvious benefits”, as the global market for military metaverse technology is estimated to hit up to £17 bn by 2030. Seeing first-hand how immersive and realistic experiences can accelerate learning and development for pilots, the Times also reported that “with the skies too crowded for fighter-pilot training, virtual reality is the future”.  

Ultimately, the value of the military metaverse is in reducing the need for expensive real-world training while enhancing mission effectiveness by enabling troops to repeat their training in complex, large-scale scenarios more often, with no fear or real-life risk. As Tim Colebrooke, Training Strategy Manager at BAE Systems, concludes: “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.”