NLR and TNO will intensify their collaboration in the field of simulation technology. They have jointly set up a new national expertise centre for quality determination, improvement and assurance of simulation technology and its applications. The centre will be officially opened in late 2012.

Simulations are much more effective, inexpensive and safer to use than the actual systems or situations. Moreover, there is a clearly observable trend for increasingly applying simulation technology as a means of solving social and industrial questions. Simulation technology is used to help train and test pilots and medical personnel. Simulation technology moreover also plays a role in educational programmes and during driver trainings using driving simulators. Within government, simulation technology plays a key role in the preparation for and management of crisis situations, such as terrorism or environmental disasters. Simulations however are always simulations of actual situations and practices; consequently, if the quality is unsatisfactory or the simulation technology is used incorrectly, this can lead to erroneous results and have major consequences for safety, the economy or the environment.

Determining, improving and assuring the quality and applications of simulation technology is an area in which specialist expertise and a wide range of knowledge is required. Within the modelling and simulation world, this field is known as verification and validation (V&V). Collaboration with complementary partners in an innovative climate is a precondition for raising this field to a higher level and further professionalizing the service. This is what NLR and TNO aim to achieve by bundling their existing knowledge and know-how in the area of V&V within a national expertise centre. The societal need for and importance of such a centre is apparent from the fact that this new initiative is also supported by the Dutch government, as part of the interdepartmental program Social Innovation Agenda , Safety (MIA-V).

In recent years, NLR and TNO developed the required V&V methods, tools and techniques, and applied them in various (inter)national projects. NLR’s focus is on the area of simulation technology that is applied in the aviation and aerospace sector. Within this domain, NLR has amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience in the area of quality determination and certification of the simulators used for training pilots and air traffic controllers. TNO, meanwhile, has amassed a wealth of practical knowledge and experience with V&V, but has applied this in other sectors in which simulation technology is used, such as mobility, health, education, integral safety and information technology.

The new centre provides professional services to suppliers and users of simulation technology, for the purpose of determining, increasing and assuring the quality of the methods and their applications. In jointly setting up a national V&V expertise centre, there will now exist a broad and sustainable knowledge base, from which NLR and TNO can better meet the V&V needs of their clients. In addition, the latest V&V methods, tools and techniques will be applied and improved. Moreover, (inter)national innovative research will be conducted in this specialist field.

The initial activities required for setting up this expertise centre are already underway, including the collection and validation of relevant V&V knowledge and experience, which both institutions have amassed over recent years. Two case studies are now collectively being pursued in order to further expand the existing practical experiences. These case studies are based on the new standardised (SISO/IEEE) methodology for V&V of models, simulations and serious games, of which NLR and TNO are the most important founders. These new standards can expect wide interest from the Dutch defence organisation and other NATO partners, and organisations like NASA and Airbus. The organisational structure is designed in such a way that in future other partners can easily link up with the centre. The expertise centre is unique and will be among the world leaders in the area of V&V for simulation technology and its applications.