The IVAS system essentially works as a heads-up display in the form of goggles. The goggles provide the status of each soldier, showing hydration, fatigue, stress, and temperature. The goggles will also help soldiers with target acquisition and accuracy during an engagement, allowing them to hit targets at a much greater range.
Of course, the goggles can record all actions and movement as well. They can thus serve as a tool for training and real-world after-action reports by showing the location and movements of each soldier in a unit.
The system will also greatly improve land navigation. The heads-up display within the goggles shows a compass and a 3D map. On this map, soldiers are able to mark friendly and enemy locations and send this information to others in their unit.
The system’s other capability is the Soldier Borne Sensor. This is a miniature drone that can be flown by soldiers via the use of their IVAS goggles. This feature alone makes the IVAS goggles worthwhile: With soldiers being able to fly a drone from their own kit, they will be able to quickly conduct reconnaissance of an area.
A soldier with an IVAS is outfitted with the goggles, an on-body computer, and a set of three batteries. In order to work as a cohesive unit, soldiers also have radios and each company is connected to a cloud, allowing for real-time communication and updates.
The development of the system began in early 2019. The first prototypes utilized Microsoft’s Hololens goggles. The goggles, along with the software, have been further developed since their inception.
According to an Army statement, the program’s major test came just a few weeks ago at Fort Pickett, VA. At the end of October, Soldiers and Marines conducted a 72-hour IVAS trial run with a company-sized unit.
The exercise was designed to be challenging for the unit members and their equipment. One evolution, in particular, required soldiers to dismount and clear a trench during the night. This movement put all of the IVAS’s features to the test, including night vision, thermal vision, 3D mapping, and the ability to launch and conduct reconnaissance with the miniature drone.
Lt. Nicholas Christopher, a member of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, who participated in the Fort Pickett testing said the following: “I can see where my entire platoon is projected on a map, and for me as a platoon leader, that’s amazing, because there’s a lot of guesswork that goes out the window. There’s a lot of verbal communication over radios that I don’t have to do anymore. It’s very solid. I can see how this is going to make a great impact on the way we fight.”
More features, such as facial recognition and text translation, are being looked into as the development of the system continues.
For the final phase of testing, 1,600 more goggles will be made. If the IVAS does receive final approval, the Army plans to buy 40,000 sets. It will initially issue them to special operations personnel, scouts, combat engineers, and infantry.