Butte entrepreneurs receive $1.2 million U.S. Air Force contract


BUTTE, Mont. - Butte entrepreneurs received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S Air Force to design mixed reality simulations for military training.

Pat Dudley and Ray Rogers showed NBC Montana a mannequin named Caesar used in simulations created for special operations paramedics training.

"We can do chest tube insertions with Caesar, we can do dichotomies with Caesar, there's all kinds of things we can do with Caesar," said Dudley.

But Caesar is just one part of the military training simulation. They designed a scene for pararescue to feel like they are really in that situation, ith a virtual screen of the environment, obstacles and actors playing the parts of wounded citizens and fellow troopers.

"We involve some virtual reality capabilities," said Rogers. "For instance, the backdrop might be a virtual village in Afghanistan."

Rogers calls the simulations "mixed reality." "Because we're combining the real world with virtual reality for this training," he said.

Rogers and Dudley signed a $1.2 million contract with the U.S Air Force. They say they are now into phase three of the project.

After designing and building the simulations, they are now focusing on the research and development phase. In this phase, they want to focus on making the trainees more aware of their surroundings, as if they were in a real-life situation.

"We're trying to integrate lots of different technologies into a simulation environment that provides real-life-like training for the pararescue men," said Rogers.

They plan on designing technology to track the trainee's movement and detect when the trainee gets shot by an actor, or vice versa, in fake combat.

"Their gauge of how realistic it is, is how stressed out they get, and we stressed them out a lot," said Dudley.

Dudley and Rogers' simulation video was taken at an airplane hanger at the Butte airport, but their end goal is to build a permanent simulation center that could create more than 100 jobs for Butte.

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