Air Force

Supervision and control of autonomous vehicles

Better control in a one pilot, multiple autonomous vehicle environment

Software & Information Technology

The success of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in recent military operations has led to increased interest in their capabilities in a variety of civilian applications in agriculture, package delivery, police work, and other areas.

As market acceptance grows, individual pilots will be responsible for multiple UAS with requirements for the pilot to frequently shift attention between vehicles. Displays that facilitate rapid retrieval of each UAS status and associated task are required. Although each vehicle’s flight may be highly automated the pilot will still need to interact with the automation systems and, at times, take manual control of a UAS. This is due to the highly dynamic nature of tasks and the need for pilots to be able to apply added value or understanding of a situation to otherwise automated decision processes.

To meet the demands of controlling multiple UAS, Air Force researchers have developed a UAS pilot display input controller and computer system which monitors and directs the current and future operating status of each aircraft. A “predicted noodle tool” is executed by the computer and configured to indicate the future path of the UAS and generates a predicted path or “noodle segment” on the display. A “directed noodle tool” is executed by the computer to indicate a pilot-adjusted future flight path by generating a directed noodle segment on the display. An input device mode selector is connected to the computer to selectively map the input device to either manipulate a control surface of the RPV, or to manipulate the directed noodle segment.

The directed noodle is a novel interface that serves as both a display symbology and control feature, enabling the pilot to quickly specify a proposed future path of a vehicle.

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