Thales engineers are testing a next-generation air traffic controller workstation that will let controllers know if their visual scan needs a tweak.
According to Aviation Week, In Ottawa,Canada, Searidge Technologies engineers are perfecting a camera-based augmented reality (AR) system that will see through the haze to allow for closer separation of aircraft arriving at an airport.
The controllers’ future workstations appear to be on track to match or surpass the technology in the cockpits they are controlling.
Launched in 2014 and potentially ready for production in 2025, the system is meant in large part to reduce the immense amount of time controllers spend entering data into their automation systems with a mouse and keyboard.
Cyril Layes, Thales’s air traffic management (ATM) innovation authority, says The workstation is very minimalist, with a large flat touch-screen gesture pad flat on the desktop in front along with a vertical surveillance information display. The controller taps the gesture pad to bring up menus or to click and drag items on the traffic display. Along with touch modalities, the system includes cameras for tracking the controller’s eyes and microphones for voice recognition, technologies all being considered for the cockpit as well.
“There is no keyboard and no mouse,” says Layes “The eye tracker is used to select an aircraft on the [surveillance] display and the touch screen is used to interact with the aircraft.” There is also a voice recognition engine that can convert verbal commands into actions.
In Ottawa, Searidge Technologies is building a suite of technology demonstrations to analyze how controllers might one day control aircraft at Dubai International Airport. In a simulated virtual tower of the facility, Included was the Enhanced Airport Vision Display (EAVD) system, a video surveillance system replicating the view from a tower, but enhanced by data tags and AR, and the approach monitor display—a camera- and surveillance-based system that provides an AR view of the conga line of aircraft approaching a runway.
“That is a paradigm shift that I think is vital,” Sauriol says. “Because what it is going to do is dramatically increase the quality of the end-user experience. In this case, it’s the controller experience.”
Ref: Aviation Week