How has the evolution of technology, specifically within the realm of computer-generated imagery, fostered new cost-effective methods of training?
The evolution of technology, specifically, the development of virtual reality computer simulations, has proven a major factor in reducing design, manufacturing, and training costs in a number of industries. With particular regard to cost-saving training options, virtual reality programs have revolutionized the way that aviation and weapons training takes place, saving many millions of dollars in the process.
It has been repeatedly proven throughout modern history that, in order for fighter pilots to be effective, they have to spend a certain number of hours in a cockpit. The costs associated with training flights, however, are very high. It costs as much as $5,000 per hour to fly a F-16 fighter jet, and as much as three-to-four times that amount to fly larger, more powerful fighters like the F-15 and F-22. While actual training flights will always be necessary to produce and maintain proficient pilots, the use of flight simulators incorporating virtual reality technology, particularly for early-state flight instruction, is significantly lower, and costs associated with the use of virtual reality simulators decreases dramatically once the cost of purchasing the simulator is paid off.
Similarly, commercial air carriers -- in effect, the airlines and cargo companies like FedEx -- use virtual reality flight simulators to train pilots and help maintain their proficiency. Naval officers and commercial shipping officers also use virtual reality simulators to reduce costs, as do driving schools, including high performance racing programs. The U.S. Marine Corps uses virtual reality simulators to train recruits in marksmanship and target identification by simulating combat scenarios.
In short, virtual reality has proven an effective means of training personnel or employees for far less money than it costs to actually fly, drive, shoot, or sail. Beyond training requirements, though, it is also used to save money in other industries like architecture and construction, and manufacturing of complex products. By proving a concept in a virtual realm prior to investing in manufacturing facilities, many millions are dollars are saved.