ATM Modernization

Tests Validate SESAR Augmented Reality Tech for Air Traffic Controllers

By S.L. Fuller | December 12, 2017

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Tests carried out by Resilient Synthetic Vision for Advanced Control Tower Air Navigation Service Provision (RETINA) partners have shown that augmented reality could enhance air traffic control operations. The Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) said that the initial results from a SESAR-funded exploratory research project showed how these technologies could have a positive impact, particularly in low-visibility conditions.

SESAR JU said the results confirmed the expected benefits regarding:

  • “Increased situation awareness and increased head-up time and, as a consequence, increased safety, since the interface provides all needed information as head-up conformal symbols super-imposed to the out-of-the-tower view.
  • “More efficient operations especially in low visibility conditions, as the controller is provided with a head-up view of the air traffic similar to the enhanced vision currently used in the cockpit.
  • “Increased airport resiliency to low-visibility conditions as the overlays provided by means of augmented reality enhance the controller’s capabilities of managing air traffic in low-visibility conditions leading to overcome limitations on the airport capacity.”

The first three batches of project validation exercises were completed in November in the Virtual Reality and Simulation Laboratory at the University of Bologna, Italy, according to SESAR JU. The test space mimicked the environment at the Bologna airport in Italy, where low-visibility conditions are regular. Goggles were tested that allow controllers to see 3-D symbols overlaid on the out-of-tower view. SESAR JU said they were validated by means of human-in-the-loop, real-time simulations — the view was provided in a reconfigurable virtual environment, capable of simulating any type of weather/visibility condition on any airport.

“The validation outcomes confirm that the technology is mature enough be tested in a real operational setting, thereby demonstrating the effectiveness of the SESAR lifecycle, from innovation to solution,” SESAR JU said.

RETINA partners include: CRIDA, ENAV, Eurocontrol, Luciad and University of Bologna as the project coordinator.

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