New technology is making pilots all-knowing and all-seeing, with the power to “hear” attackers in surround sound, peer through dust storms, even see right through the floor of their aircraft.
New technology is making pilots all-knowing and all-seeing, with the power to “hear” attackers in surround sound, peer through dust storms, even see right through the floor of their aircraft. A new wearable communications system puts maps and video right on their wrists, meaning they are never alone, even outside the aircraft.
“We are moving into an unprecedented period of cutting-edge pilot capabilities,” said Todd Lovell, a Raytheon engineer and former V-22 Osprey pilot. “We’re using not only sight but also hearing to help pilots process all the information coming into the cockpit.”
All of the key visual data an aviator needs can be presented in a heads-up manner through a monocle positioned just in front of the pilot’s eye.
The technology allows pilots to hear exactly where hostile fire is coming from through 3-D audio in their helmets. A sophisticated system of sensors positioned outside the aircraft gives them full spherical vision in degraded visual environments, from dust storms to the black of a moonless night.
“It’s like flying in a glass ball,” said Trevor Bushell, business development manager for Raytheon’s Advanced Distributed Aperture System.
All of the key visual data an aviator needs can be presented in a heads-up manner through a monocle positioned just in front of the pilot’s eye. It can also be sent to the visor of a head-mounted display.
- The Advanced Distributed Aperture System (ADAS). This modular system delivers expanded, high-resolution infrared and near-infrared imagery to the pilot and crew. The system allows them to see through the walls and floor of their aircraft – a potential life-saver when landing a helicopter in a dust cloud or in darkness. See related: "Raytheon Helps NATO With Study on Helicopter 'Brownouts'"
- The Raytheon Center Display Unit, which allows militaries to quickly replace the analog instruments in their F-16s and helicopters with a new, flat-screen digital display. The richer data stream can then be sent directly to the pilot’s helmet.
- Aviation Warrior. This wearable computer comes with a wrist-mounted screen, allowing pilots to see radar images, surveillance video and maps even on the ground. They can communicate with a built-in radio or by text.
Raytheon will demonstrate all of these technologies at the company’s pavilion at the 2012 Farnborough International Air Show.