Red 6, a company building an aircraft platform with augmented reality capabilities designed for military training, says it has raised a $30 million Series A investment to further its mission.

Founded in 2018, Red 6 is the creator of the Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System (ATARS), which brings augmented reality into the cockpit of training planes to allow pilots to experience training scenarios while actually flying.

Earlier this month Red 6 announced it had raised a $30 million Series A investment, which the company claims puts its valuation at $130 million. The investment was led by Snowpoint Ventures with participation by other existing investors and new investors.

Red 6 says its goal is to use AR to solve a specific problem: a shortage of combat ready pilots in the U.S. military. While VR-based flight simulators have been used in training for decades, Red 6 is taking its tech into the real skies, equipping a training aircraft with an AR system that allows pilots to see virtual aircraft and other training assets outside the cockpit.

Red 6 hopes this approach will mean faster and more cost effective training without sacrificing realism. Using augmented reality in the cockpit would mean the pilot in training could, for instance, dogfight against a virtual aircraft or practice strafing runs on virtual ground targets. Compared to doing that kind of training in real life, the AR approach means only one plane actually has to be in the sky, saving time and money on logistics, fuel, maintenance and more. Meanwhile the pilot would continue to feel all the realistic g-forces and other aspects of flight that can only be replicated by actually flying in a real aircraft.

Visually, the foundation of ATARS is a helmet-based AR display of Red 6’s own design. The company says the display is capable of operating in outdoor brightness and has a 150° field-of-view.

Image courtesy Red 6

So far we haven’t gotten a clear look at what the pilot actually sees while using ATARS outside of concept footage and a glimpse of the actual system output in the photo below.

Image courtesy Red 6

We’re quite curious about the tracking, resolution, and visibility, and if the system supports proper occlusion of virtual objects from the cockpit.

While Red 6 is currently running ATARS with Berkut 540 aircraft, the company says it’s also developing the system for integration into the T-38 Talon which is used for pilot training by the United States Air Force.

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It isn’t clear to what extent Red 6’s tech has gone beyond a demo or pilot stage, but the company says it has reached Phase III of the Small Business Innovation Research program on behalf of the United States Air Force, which includes financial support and suggests a strong interest in integrating the technology into future programs.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • TechPassion

    Good that something is created, but nothing special.

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  • Ad

    More pointless corruption and weaponization of XR. All those trolls who always show up and say these things are essential to protect the troops don’t seem to ever come in and demand anything that helps with the issues that actually impact troops and veterans, like sexual assault, drug overdose, terrible healthcare, officer abuse, destroyed families, and suicide.

    • Nissim Hadar

      I assume you have never been in combat…..

  • Nick Bicanic

    Here’s some through the headset footage released last week.
    I know it’s through the headset because…I shot it ;)

    TechPassion Critiques are always welcome – but I’m curious whether you know of any other systems that can do this – because if yes I’d love to know about them…

    • benz145

      Thanks for sharing this! Is there cockpit occlusion? I’m guessing no positional tracking because the targets are far enough away that it wouldn’t be necessary?

  • Nissim Hadar

    This has been done nearly 20 years ago.

    • Nick Bicanic

      I would be highly highly surprised if Elbit had a lightweight high FOV stereo headset, daylight visible, with very high resolution and low enough latency that you could dogfight in the air, 20 years ago when you worked there. Multiple pieces of the technology needed to make that happen didn’t exist then.

      • Nissim Hadar

        We had a very high resolution HMD, albeit a small field of view. It is visible in very bright sun-light and fully integrates with the aircraft avionics.

        But – the out-the-window visuals is a small part of combat training. There are radar warning systems, missile warning systems, a radar, data-link systems … as well as complex ground systems and communication systems that all need to be integrated together.

        And – add to that planning systems and playback/what if/debrief systems.

        What do you mean by “stereo headset”?

  • tomchall

    fighter pilot podcast did an episode on it

  • Doesnt’ those glasses terribly look like the Realmax?? Maybe they are modified realmax…