Red 6 Raises $30 Million for In-flight Military AR Training Platform

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Red 6, a company building an aircraft platform with augmented reality capabilities designed for military training, says it has raised a $30 million Series A investment to further its mission.

Founded in 2018, Red 6 is the creator of the Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System (ATARS), which brings augmented reality into the cockpit of training planes to allow pilots to experience training scenarios while actually flying.

Earlier this month Red 6 announced it had raised a $30 million Series A investment, which the company claims puts its valuation at $130 million. The investment was led by Snowpoint Ventures with participation by other existing investors and new investors.

Red 6 says its goal is to use AR to solve a specific problem: a shortage of combat ready pilots in the U.S. military. While VR-based flight simulators have been used in training for decades, Red 6 is taking its tech into the real skies, equipping a training aircraft with an AR system that allows pilots to see virtual aircraft and other training assets outside the cockpit.

Red 6 hopes this approach will mean faster and more cost effective training without sacrificing realism. Using augmented reality in the cockpit would mean the pilot in training could, for instance, dogfight against a virtual aircraft or practice strafing runs on virtual ground targets. Compared to doing that kind of training in real life, the AR approach means only one plane actually has to be in the sky, saving time and money on logistics, fuel, maintenance and more. Meanwhile the pilot would continue to feel all the realistic g-forces and other aspects of flight that can only be replicated by actually flying in a real aircraft.

Visually, the foundation of ATARS is a helmet-based AR display of Red 6’s own design. The company says the display is capable of operating in outdoor brightness and has a 150° field-of-view.

So far we haven’t gotten a clear look at what the pilot actually sees while using ATARS outside of concept footage and a glimpse of the actual system output in the photo below.

We’re quite curious about the tracking, resolution, and visibility, and if the system supports proper occlusion of virtual objects from the cockpit.

While Red 6 is currently running ATARS with Berkut 540 aircraft, the company says it’s also developing the system for integration into the T-38 Talon which is used for pilot training by the United States Air Force.

It isn’t clear to what extent Red 6’s tech has gone beyond a demo or pilot stage, but the company says it has reached Phase III of the Small Business Innovation Research program on behalf of the United States Air Force, which includes financial support and suggests a strong interest in integrating the technology into future programs.

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