June 05, 2012
Credit: Navy file photo
ARLINGTON, Va. — A new sensor-fusion algorithm being developed for helicopters could help reduce the impact of brownout conditions on pilots and crews.
Under U.S. Navy Small Business Innovation Research funding, Monterey Technologies is developing software that fuses sensor data in real time, feeding into synthetic vision systems aboard helicopters that are designed to help pilots land in brownout conditions.
As things stand now, when pilots and crewmembers can no longer see the landing area during a brownout, they have no options other than aborting, according to Joy Matsumoto, company technical director for Monterrey Technologies, which is developing the software. She spoke June 4 during a presentation at the Navy Opportunity Forum in Arlington, Va.
Indeed, Army officials blamed brownouts and associated problems for contributing to higher accident rates during Iraqi desert operations during the beginning and middle part of the previous decade, when swirling sands would make it difficult to see or navigate during takeoffs and landings. The Army and U.S. Marine Corps have been searching for ways to mitigate brownout impacts since then.
Sensor systems are already available that create a simulated picture of the landing site in the event of brownout, but no one sensor can be relied upon to create this picture throughout the approach and landing in brownout conditions, Monterrey says.
The company’s software fuses inputs from multiple sensors in real time, identifying when a sensor is losing effectiveness, automatically removing it from the fusion solution and replacing it with a “last known good image,” according to the company.
Called the Fused Sensor Imaging Display System, it is slated for a June 27 demonstration at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., she says. It relies on essentially the same equipment and systems carried aboard Marine Corps CH-53s, Matsumoto says.