DOD revs simulation models

Government designers of simulation models still work in stovepiped groups that are only
beginning to face reuse and interoperability issues.


Defense Department groups soon will have no choice about interoperability. Beginning
Oct. 1, DOD organizations will get no funding for simulations that cannot or will not
comply two years from now with the department’s High-Level Architecture standard for
simulations.


Commercial tool vendors and private organizations also see value in the HLA standard.


“I think the industry is behind it, though there are still some naysayers,”
said Carl Byers, president of OriginalSim Inc. of Montreal. The Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers is expected next month to adopt HLA as an IEEE standard, he
said.


The DOD-defined standard is drawing a fair amount of attention as a generalized way to
build interoperable object-based simulations because “it’s just one of those
things that make sense,” Byers said. “It’s much broader than DOD.”


In the commercial world, the HLA standard could apply to economic and even
entertainment simulations, he said.


For DOD, the path to compliance will be tricky. “I’m exploring whatever I can
in that area,” said Vince Golubic, an electrical engineer with the Army’s
National Range Development Directorate at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.


Golubic says he worries about the interfaces that pass live data between models for
flight-safety systems and other missile range simulations. He thinks a lot about questions
such as, is there sufficient latency between two processors? Will latency affect the
real-time data stream?


It will be tricky to blend HLA with the Army’s RCC real-time data standard, set by
the Range Commanders Council. “HLA has a different way of doing sockets and
transferring data in an object model environment, so how do you tie those two things
together?” he said.


Golubic bought OriginalSim’s C++ tool, OsimFramework 4.0, to automate repetitive
tasks and speed him along the path to HLA compliance. OsimFramework runs on any Silicon
Graphics Inc. workstation under Irix and generates C++ simulation interfaces that are
HLA-compliant.


Microsoft Corp.’s Visual C++ environment “doesn’t talk to HLA right now.
I wish Microsoft would go in that direction,” Golubic said.


A developer using OsimFramework can design any kind of shared, real-time simulation,
Byers said. In the past, if one engineer built an F-15 aircraft simulation, another
engineer at a different site with different workstation hardware couldn’t use it, he
said.


HLA describes procedures for developing simulations and also describes how a simulation
must communicate with the run-time infrastructure, RTI Version 1.3, which the Defense
Modeling and Simulation Office provides as free code along with support utilities.


Users can get RTI 1.3 and the utilities by registering on the Web with the DMSO
Software Distribution Center at http://hla.dmso.mil.
 

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