Murphy's Law: When Being Common Is An Advantage


May 19, 2007: In the last decade, the U.S. Army suddenly developed a lot of vehicle simulators. This is something new. For a long time, the army had different commands buying different simulators from different manufacturers. The army lacked buying power and could not get a critical mass of vehicle sims for widespread training. So vehicle sims were always low priority when it came time to hand out procurement money, and there weren't many of them to be found. This was in spite of the fact that driving accidents are number one cause of non-combat casualties and play a major role in IED casualties.

One approach to fixing the problem was to build a common vehicle simulator platform, that could be easily reconfigured for different vehicle types. As one of the senior guys in the army simulation operations (PEO-STRI) put it, " a vehicle simulator is a vehicle simulator is a vehicle simulator." Thus a new generation of vehicle sims were built, that reused a lot of software and terrain/visual databases from other programs. This kept the cost of development low and lowered future costs by sharing a common baseline with other programs. Now the army can afford to buy many effective vehicle sims for many different vehicle types at low cost. This turned out to be very fortunate. Fuel costs keep going up, and simulators use only a fraction of the fuel the actual vehicles do. In addition, with a war going on, a simulator is a much safer way to practice combat driving techniques.


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