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MARS Virtual Reality Simulator


To design, develop and evaluate a low-cost, portable simulator for teaching junior MARS officers the conning skills required of an Officer of the Watch (OOW).


The Canadian Navy requires the use of training simulators to avoid the high costs and difficulties of training officers at sea. Other factors, such as fleet reductions and growing reliance upon the reserves, have amplified this requirement. The Chief of Maritime Doctrine and Operations (CMDO) requested the investigation of technologies that would enable the exploratory development of a simulator for training ship-handling skills. A prime requirement of the system was the ability to simulate formation manoeuvres.


Several emerging technologies provide inexpensive or novel components that can be exploited in the development of training simulators. These technologies, which include virtual reality devices, voice recognition, computer graphics, local and long range networking, expert systems and precision tracking, allow inexpensive, alternative design approaches for training simulators. Further, they permit portability, generic application, objective measurement of performance, and reduction in the number of instructional support staff. However, few practical applications have attempted to reduce the technical uncertainty associated with their use.


An exploratory development model (XDM) of the MARS VRS has been constructed to determine the technical challenges and risks associated with the use of virtual reality technologies and to demonstrate proof-of-concepts.

An iterative design approach has been used, involving subject matter experts from Venture, the Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC) in Victoria, British Columbia. One of the three design reviews included appraisal and testing of the XDM at DCIEM by four students who were trained in the simulator while it was controlled by Course Training Officers. A more extensive development evaluation and field trial of the XDM began in October 1993 at Venture.

System description

The MARS VRS consists of two components

  1. a network of simulators that can be re configured to model a variety of ship types for simultaneous training of formation manoeuvres, and
  2. the means for recording and animating the manoeuvres of ships at sea. For further details, see the MARS VRS system description Fact Sheet.

For more information

Head, Simulation & Training Group
Dr L.E. Magee
[email protected]

DCIEM Home Page.

Simulation & Training Sector Home Page (NOT YET AVAILABLE.)

DCIEM Fact Sheet index Page.

DCIEM Fact Sheet No. G-07

(C) Copyright DCIEM 1995

Web page last modified March 5, 1996

Tim Pointing,
DCIEM WWW Administrator,
[email protected]