GruntSim: the load-bearing video game simulation for Marines

Marines receiving computer simulation program for assessing physical effects of equipment load carried by troops.

By Richard Tomkins

ARLINGTON, Va., June 11 (UPI) -- A computer simulation program that measures equipment weight, distribution and effects on body mechanics and performance is being given to the Marine Corps.

The 3-D program from the Office of Naval Research is called the Enhanced Technologies for Optimization of Warfighter Load, or ETOWL, which will be renamed GruntSim once delivered to the Gruntworks Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad, which focuses on individual mobility.


Gruntworks operates as a workshop for the testing of equipment that would help infantry Marines.

"ETOWL fits perfectly within ONR's mission to develop ground-breaking technologies that enhance the resilience, physical superiority and overall warfighting performance of U.S. Marines," said Vice Chief of Naval Research Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea.

Like combat-themed video games, users can create a Marine avatar, load it with as much or as little equipment as desired and then run the avatar through a variety of virtual obstacle courses. ETOWL measures the stress placed on each avatar's joints as well as its balance, flexibility and center of gravity.

"It's very exciting to see ETOWL transition from ONR prototype to a technology that will enhance human load and performance for the Marine Corps," said ONR Program Manager Dr. Peter Squire. "This is the kind of research that's very rewarding because it provides a direct benefit to our nation's warfighters."


ONR says ETOWL was developed by the Center for Computer Aided Design at the University of Iowa. Its design software -- the SANTOS human simulation environment – will be made available to the academic community to access free of charge from the center's website soon to allow for further research and potential improvement of ETOWL and future programs like it.

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