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AFRL’s GRILL Bringing DIS into Cesium for Unreal for Simulations

The Air Force Research Lab’s Gaming Research Integration for Learning Lab (GRILL) is using Cesium for Unreal to visualize DIS training simulations. Through utilizing commercial and government off the shelf gaming technology, the GRILL builds the technology for serious games that support operational efficiency and effectiveness.

The GRILL has developed a plugin for sending and receiving DIS data in Cesium for Unreal.

These geospecific training simulations rely on the high accuracy WGS84 globe provided by the Cesium for Unreal plugin and on global terrain and imagery available through Cesium ion. With the world in place, the GRILL can take advantage of the visualization capabilities of Unreal Engine. On top of the capabilities provided by both Cesium for Unreal and Unreal Engine itself, the GRILL created a plugin that allows a user to interface with DIS.

DIS in Cesium for Unreal by the GRILL at AFRL

External DIS entities being captured and displayed over Project Anywhere. All 3D models and widget visuals are for demo purposes and not part of the plugin.

The GRILL’s plugin uses Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS), IEEE standard 1278.1 that defines, down to the bit level, the packet structure for distributed simulation environments. The DIS open standard enables real-time wargaming and is one of the most widely used protocols in defense for real-time modeling and simulation. To bring DIS into Unreal Engine, the GRILL utilized Open-DIS, the free, open-source implementation of DIS maintained by the military’s Naval Postgraduate School. 

DIS in Cesium for Unreal by the GRILL at AFRL

Some of the networking options supplied by the GRILL’s DIS plugin.

The GRILL’s plugin provides basic UDP socket support and handles interpreting of DIS network traffic using the Open-DIS libraries. Then, the plugin uses the interpreted DIS data to create and update user specified DIS entities in Unreal Engine. The DIS plugin provides an interface for a user to add on custom functionality when specific DIS data is received. The GRILL’s plugin also supports sending DIS information through utilizing the Open-DIS libraries, which allows DIS data to be sent out of Unreal Engine to other DIS-capable simulations.

DIS in Cesium for Unreal by the GRILL at AFRL

DIS entity with path enabled showing dead reckoning smoothing.

The plugin has not been released publicly yet, but will be released publicly in May 2022 for Unreal Engine 4.27. Support for Unreal Engine 5 will come soon after.

We’ll be sharing a demo of the work by the GRILL team at GEOINT this week. Come by our booth (#1011) to check it out.