SISPEO: simulating Scorpion

SISPEO is the French acronym (which stands for SImulateur SPécialisé dans les Etudes d’Organisation d’équipages) for the “Specialised Simulator to Study Crew Organisation” that allows France’s armed forces to virtually test the vehicles in the Scorpion programme. FOB got a chance to see it during the pre-Eurosatory press tour this week. Set up in 2014 on the Directorate General of Armaments Ground Techniques (DGA TT) Bourges site, SISPEO was not created for training purposes, but rather to test the man/machine interfaces and allow future “Scorpion” units to specify their operational requirements. And, like many other Scorpion systems, SISPEO is now undergoing its baptism of fire.

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SISPEO relies on a video wall and about 15 consoles in the control centre

SISPEO is based on a simple principle: instead of creating a series of costly prototypes, why not replace them with their virtual equivalents? Thus SISPEO, designed by the Toulouse-based company OKTAL, consists of two simulation cabins mounted on actuators installed in a 600 m² room, connected to a control centre with 15 consoles and a “video wall”, explained Captain Christophe of the DGA TT. This control room is used for creating, tracking and analysing the scenarios projected in the cabins. Both cabins reproduce the cockpit of one of the Scorpion military vehicles, with its share of screens, optics and joysticks. “Five more cabins will be delivered to Bourges in October or November 2016, de facto increasing the complexity of collaborative combat scenarios,” the captain said.

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One of the two, soon seven, simulation cabins which represent those of the future Griffon, Jaguar and Leclerc XLR vehicles of the Scorpion programme

After a first phase of defining the mission, the enemy, the environment and the features of the vehicle, the DGA TT moves onto the delicate software configuration phase. This can last up to four months for a complex scenario and two months for the evolution of a previously conducted mission. If the definition and implementation of the scenario are done by the DGA TT and STAT (the army’s technical directorate), their implementation is the responsibility of five French rank and file soldiers, selected according to their operational availability. The mountain troops of the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade, among others, have already contributed to the system. For two weeks, nearly 25 soldiers, technicians and engineers repeat the same mission over 20 times.

It is the soldiers’ reflexes, reactions and choices, and of course the result of the scenarios, that will subsequently enable the DGA to improve the design of the vehicle during the final phase of analysis. And to change, if necessary, the positioning of joysticks, monitors, external cameras, weapons systems, etc. “The configurations are endless,” said Captain Christophe. An amusing detail: the DGA also uses a set of cameras to track the driver’s gaze and further refine the configuration of the vehicles.

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Here is the interior of a cabin, infinitely adaptable

A unique system, SISPEO is an essential step before qualifying the Jaguar and Griffon vehicles. Indeed, it has already validated the concept of collaborative protection and now the model construction phase has begun. After this first entirely virtual phase, the DGA is already considering hybrid simulation, which will put SISPEO and real vehicles into a network. “A double challenge for the DGA,” said Captain Christophe, “because we will have to account for the real world in the simulators and to network these with the actual vehicles.