The Conning Officer Virtual Environment - Intelligent Tutoring System

Training naval officers for shipboard duties has advanced significantly with the use of virtual technologies.

How do you train Navy surface warfare officers to drive large and complex vessels—and do so with limited training resources? Taking advantage of new virtual technologies, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) has helped develop the Conning Officer Virtual Environment-Intelligent Tutoring System (COVE-ITS).

The Conning Officer Virtual Environment - Intelligent Tutoring SystemVirtual reality training has increasingly become an integral part of military training, including in the realm of shiphandling and the instruction of naval surface warfare officers.
(U.S. Navy photo by MCSA Ash Severe)

ONR recently sponsored university research that combines the science of learning, artificial intelligence, and ship-handling knowledge to build an intelligent tutoring system with a natural language interface that can provide one-on-one coaching in simulated environments. The result of that research is COVE-ITS, a prototype tutoring program.

COVE-ITS addresses several important goals: tutoring people to apply their knowledge in challenging situations, and creating software that assesses performance while instructing students in high-fidelity simulators on ship-driving tasks. The system provides one-on-one training for advanced ship-handling skills to complement both classroom instruction and tools for developing training scenarios, such as underway replenishments.

Tests of COVE-ITS at the Navy’s Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, Rhode Island, showed it to be very effective in developing certain important skills as well as helping students to learn to drive simulated ships. The school plans to implement a learning system developed from COVE-ITS for regular instructional use.

The effect of COVE-ITS at the school has been impressive. It has lowered the cost of training by reducing instructor time by as much as 50 percent, and improved the ability of instructors to assess performance, provide instruction and remediation, and develop skill sets.

The Surface Warfare Officers School plans to transition to an operational version of COVE-ITS for classroom use, as well as deploy the system to other fleet concentration areas and five Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps units.

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