Software development and consulting firm Stottler Henke has announced that it has entered into a contract valued at approximately $2.5 million to develop an enhanced version of the intelligent tutoring system (ITS) recently implemented by the firm for training U.S. Navy tactical action officers (TAOs).
The enhanced software will work in tandem with a Northrop Grumman-developed WatchStation
simulator, and will be used at the U.S. Navy’s Surface Warfare Officer’s School (SWOS) in Rhode Island. After it is completed, the TAO ITS will address training in a total of 10 separate areas of expertise, including surface, undersea, and search-and-rescue operations.
The first area Stottler Henke is developing is air defense-detect to engage, in which a student must assess incoming aircraft and respond appropriately. It is expected to be ready for initial use at SWOS this fall.
The new highly-configurable software is being developed as a means to enable students to act as TAOs in tactical simulations. Using the TAO ITS, a student is able to control a ship's weapons and sensors and direct the movements of the ship, other support vessels, and aircraft. The TAO also monitors the movements and actions of friendly and enemy ships, planes, missiles, and submarines in the region. This information is then translated in real-time into a dynamic tactical picture in order to help facilitate the selection of appropriate responses and issue necessary orders.
In addition, Stottler Henke’s SimBionic authoring tool will enable the system’s developers to develop complex behaviors for computer-generated forces, such as friendly and enemy ships and aircraft, without software programming. SimBionic will also enable rapid authoring of sophisticated, pattern-matching algorithms that recognize temporal sequences of simulated actions, events, and states to evaluate the student’s performance and provide feedback.
"The second-generation TAO ITS will offer several advantages to the Navy," said Dick Stottler, president of Stottler Henke Associates. "First, the speech-enabled graphical user interface will more accurately represent how a TAO actually works on board a Navy ship by enabling the student to converse with simulated crew members to issue commands and receive information. Second, the new TAO ITS will employ intelligent agents, rather than instructors, to play the roles of simulated crew members. This will reduce the staff overhead required to conduct effective TAO training. Third, the new system will automatically evaluate the student’s performance in real-time and infer tactical principles that were applied correctly, or not applied, so it can coach the student during each scenario."