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US Air Force drone pilots and sensor operators train using Oculus Quest 2 headsets that allow them to simulate being in a drone cockpit, watching instructors remotely pilot an MQ-9 Reaper aircraft.

The VR technology powering the Reaper training is provided by Moth + Flame, using high-definition cameras and light detecting and ranging sensors, or LIDAR, to scan physical environments. It can add data feeds to virtual consoles and enhance parts of the environment to make students focus on them during training.

The first phase of what is intended to be widespread use of the technology for drone training involves 43 VR headsets that 60 students can use to get an idea of how things work in the cockpit during operations. A drone cockpit is a ground station where operators use screens and controls to maneuver the aircraft, which could be anywhere in the world, via data links.

Drone piloting is easier to simulate than aircraft because there are none of the G-forces or equilibrium changes that conventional aircraft crews experience.

The technology is being used to prepare students for their first session in a Reaper simulator, as reported by