Rowan University Receives Additional $3 Million from the Defense Department to Create AI-Augmented Virtual and Mixed Reality Combat Simulations

Rowan University has received $3 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to create virtual and mixed reality combat simulations augmented by artificial intelligence (AI).Dr. Nidhal C. BouaynayaDr. Nidhal C. Bouaynaya

This money comes as part of a continuation of a $5.5 million partnership between Rowan and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command – Armaments Center.

“We are developing secure, immersive and autonomous mixed-reality environments that can enhance the operational evaluation of next-generation gunner turret systems and accelerate their development,” said Dr. Nidhal Bouaynaya, project principal investigator and associate dean for research and graduate studies and professor in the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering.

The team aims to create realistic virtual, augmented, and mixed reality environments and combat scenarios that include armored and tactical vehicles, gunner protection kits (GPKs), threats and engagement scenarios.

They are also designing situational awareness systems to alert service members through wireless communication between a vehicle and crew members. An AI system can then identify threats and make predictions. Information from test subjects put in virtual scenarios will also help discern best methods for presenting information to a gunner.

The end goal is for the gunner to have access to information via head-up displays and VR headsets.

“The combat landscape is changing rapidly and will be changing to include more robots and more AI,” Bouaynaya said. “The framework we are developing is one way to keep pace and maybe get one step ahead of those changes.”

So far, the team’s AI system has demonstrated being able to detect aerial drone threats in real time in a simulated environment.


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