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Digital Twins: What Are They and How Can We Use Them?

Digital Twins: What Are They and How Can We Use Them? - top government contractors - best government contracting event

The term “digital twin” refers to a real-time virtual counterpart of an individual, physical asset or process in the physical world. Digital twins can help organizations understand how these real-world elements might behave in a myriad of complex scenarios and environments – often without actually using or compromising the physical element itself.

“Digital twins are digital replicas of a system and can range from a complete digital model to a hybrid model that might include actual components and software defined radios to emulate RF links, resulting in a highly accurate emulation,” explained Kevin Coggins, vice president of positioning, navigation and timing for Booz Allen Hamilton, in a recent Executive Spotlight interview.

This advanced digital replica technology has been brought to the fore in the federal landscape as an invaluable resource for modeling, analyzing and optimizing a wide range of mission-critical physical interactions in virtual environments.

Military Uses

Digital twins are used today by all three military branches to improve maintenance, test “what-if” scenarios, predict vulnerabilities and simulate potential behaviors for B-1 Lancer bombers, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and other vital defense vehicles.

The U.S. Navy has initiated a research project with the University of South Carolina to develop digital twin technologies that can support the Navy’s energy system and power experiments.

Northrop Grumman is now developing digital twins of both the subsystems and airframe of its Bombardier CRJ-700 testbed jet fleet to enable quicker development, modification and deployment of new capabilities.

Government agencies and their industry partners are also using digital twins to replicate how an Internet of Things device will perform throughout its lifecycle, with use cases ranging from jet engines to factory floor processes.

Space Uses

“With a digital twin, a space system owner can assess the system against a variety of threats, develop and test mitigations, all without interrupting the on-orbit system,” Coggins said.

The concept of digital twins originated at NASA, where mission controllers first used digital models of the Apollo 13 spacecraft to remotely assess an oxygen tank explosion that left the main engine and remaining oxygen supplies critically damaged.

“NASA faced many problems that all needed to be solved in order to bring the crew safely home, several of them solved only with the extensive use of the simulator digital twins,” Siemens’ Stephen Ferguson wrote in a blog post.

The U.S. Space Force is eyeing the creation of a virtual environment for its guardians to enhance training, conduct activity simulations and improve department-wide collaboration, according to Dr. Lisa Costa, the Space Force’s chief technology and innovation officer and a 2022 Wash100 Award winner.

Join ExecutiveBiz Events for its Digital Twins Forum on Apr. 14 to learn more about the benefits, opportunities, challenges and potential applications of digital twin technology as the U.S. works to stay ahead of the curve in the growing metaverse.

Digital Twins: What Are They and How Can We Use Them? - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, program executive officer for weapons at the Department of the Air Force, is scheduled to keynote the event, speaking alongside other notable government and industry leaders at the Siemens Government Technology and SAIC-sponsored event.

Register today for the Digital Twins Forum on Apr. 14!

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Written by Summer Myatt

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