The South Australian Police Academy has deployed a new virtual reality (VR) training simulator to assist officers in training with firearms in real-world scenarios. According to an official statement, it allows for training without ammunition, thereby increasing safety, and reducing cost and environmental impact.

The VirTra training system offers a 300-degree of simulated scenarios, utilizing multiple screens, 3D audio, and special effects, the statement said. In addition to testing firearms use, the simulator is also meant to test “factors such as communication skills, de-escalation and appropriate responses,” South Australia Police deputy commissioner Linda Williams said in the statement.

The new system is the first tech update that the training facility has received in roughly 10 years. Williams said in the statement that it could lead to more interactive scenarios and enhance existing response training efforts.

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The training scenario has a live fire range as well. And since it is indoors, that means that officers can still train regardless of potential inclement weather.

The VirTra simulator, which set the police force back $480,000, has been in use since June 2017. Now, however, it is being made available for other groups, such as the South Australian Police’s Special Tasks and Rescue (STAR) group, to train on as well. STAR is typically tasked with handling situations deemed more high-risk, Williams said in the statement.

The system has also been used by other jurisdictions, and in conjunction with other systems, the statement noted, enabling groups to share training programs and insights. “This is a welcomed upgrade of the system already used to train police in the use of a full range of tactical options including firearms, electronic control devices and capsicum spray,” Police Minister Peter Malinauskas said in the statement.

Specialized training is one of the major use cases for VR in the enterprise. Industries such as education, skilled trades, and even NASA use VR to train their employees and experts of scenarios that could be difficult to replicate through other mediums.

The US military also has a new VR simulator called PARASIM, used to train paratroopers on particular combat jumps. Military and police implementations have the added value of training users of potentially life-threatening situations in cyberspace, keeping them safer and more prepared.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. A new VirTra VR simulator is in use by the South Australian Police Academy as a police officers in firearms training.
  2. The simulator doesn’t use live ammunition, saving the department money, lowering its environmental impact, and increasing safety.
  3. Training has quickly emerged as the most useful enterprise implementation for VR and related technologies, especially in dangerous professions like the military or police.