One approach to solving this problem is to provide the pilot with a synthetic view of the ground by means of a helmet mounted display (immersive virtual reality). In the CAE SVS, position and heading provided by the aircraft navigation system are used to index a database of digital elevation maps from which a synthetic view of the ground is generated. This view is augmented by a live feed from an infrared scanner mounted on an external gimbal, which servos according to the pilot's direction of gaze. As of this writing we have recently completed the evaluation of different methods of fusing live + synthetic data in order to maximize the information content of the synthetic view with respect to flight control and mission task requirements. These will shortly be incorporated into the flight test platform.
The next phase of this research will involve incorporation of radar or lidar sensors, with the aim of automatically detecting potential obstacles and augmenting the display with suitable markers. Much of this will be based on our prior research in active vision and gaze planning in order to develop suitable algorithms to steer the sensors and extract the relevant information within time constraints.
P. Simard, F.P. Ferrie, N.K. Link (CAE), R. Kruk (CAE)