The Central Florida Tech Grove hosted the first webinar in its eight-part, 2024 NTSA/Tech Grove Connect series focused on highlighting the insights, people and stories behind I/ITSEC 2023’s best papers and tutorials, Feb. 8.

Dr. Kevin Hulme, program manager for The Stephen Still Institute for Sustainable Transportation and Logistics, hosted “Behind the Screams: The Groundbreaking Modeling & Simulation Innovations in a Disney Ride.”

Hulme focused on the technology behind “Rise of the Resistance,” a popular attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, which is based on the “Star Wars” franchise. He explained that while simulator-type attractions like “Rise of the Resistance” are theme park experiences, they possess relevant capabilities and display real potential in a simulation and training context.

Hulme said the immersive storytelling surrounding “Resistance” brings the Star Wars universe to life by using physical and virtual elements to provide a multisensory experience, similar to live-virtual-constructive taxonomy and drawing parallels to “serious games” implementations. The attraction itself is broken down into four ride systems: a turntable simulator, trackless longitudinal and lateral motion, an elevator lift/drop free-fall system, and a 6-DoF immersion-based spherical theater. 

The trackless longitudinal and lateral motion element requires no physical track, as it employs a system of electronic sensors to allow connected autonomous vehicles (CAV) degrees of freedom (DoF) to surge, sway and yaw within a predetermined area. The lack of a fixed track allows the CAVs several advantages that other simulated environments do not provide. Nonlinear pathways allow vehicles to double back, and the lack of a visible track adds unpredictability to the riders’ experiences, increases immersion, and supports authenticity and misdirection. 

The 6-DoF spherical theater provides 360-degree displays through a contiguous projection system that has applications in jet training for the Eurofighter, F-15, F-16, M-346 and more. Vehicle motion demands rapid visuals with low smear, and this type of theater provides full field-of-view, high-contrast, and ultra-high resolution.

“Resistance” is bleeding-edge technology used for entertainment, according to Hulme, but the capabilities of these technologies are limitless. Modeling and simulation represent essential tools for modern warfighters that do not limit themselves to a desktop computer or a fully virtual environment. The origins of simulated trainers and contemporary attractions are one and the same, as is the future.

To learn more and attend future events in this eight-part webinar series, visit: https://www.ntsa.org/events

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