Fighter aircrews are taking large amounts of paper and other mission essential peripherals into the cockpit for each flight. The aircrews must find places to store these items and be able to access the required information in minimal time. Programs have been initiated to put tablet personal computers (PCs)/digital kneeboards into the cockpit, but due to bulk, ejection risks and sunlight readability issues, these devices have not been transitioned to fighter aircrews. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has been tasked to develop a system using a helmet-mounted display, input device, and computer to solve some of the PC tablet issues-and do it quickly. AFRL was directed to conduct an Operational Utility Evaluation (OUE) to determine the usability of the Little High-end Airborne Laptop (Lil HAL) system (Figure 1). Before the OUE could occur, a safety evaluation of the Lil HAL system had to be completed with a receipt of a safe-to-fly clearance. This paper discusses the safety testing that occurred to receive the safety-of-flight clearance.
A helmet tracker is a critical element in the path that delivers targeting and other sensor data to the user of a helmet-mounted display (HMD) in a military aircraft. The original purpose of an HMD was to serve as a helmet-mounted sight and provide a means to fully utilize the capabilities of off-boresight munitions. Recently, the role of the HMD has evolved from being strictly a targeting tool to providing detailed flight path and situation awareness information. These changes, however, have placed even greater value on the visual information that is transferred through the helmet tracker to the HMD. Specifically, the timeliness and accuracy of the information, which is of critical importance when the HMD is used as a targeting aid, is of even greater importance when the HMD is used to display flight reference information. This is especially relevant since it has been proposed to build new military aircraft without a physical head-up display (HUD) and display HUD information virtually with an HMD. In this paper, we review the current state of helmet tracker technology with respect to use in military aviation. We also identify the parameters of helmet trackers that offer the greatest risk when using an HMD to provide information beyond targeting data to the user. Finally, we discuss the human factors limitations of helmet tracker systems for delivering both targeting and flight reference information to a military pilot.
Ultra-resolution visualization systems are achieved by the technique of tiling many direct or project-view displays. During the past fews years, several such systems have been built from commercial electronics components (displays, computers, image generators, networks, communication links, and software). Civil applications driving this development have independently determined that they require images at 10-100 megapixel (Mpx) resolution to enable state-of-the-art research, engineering, design, stock exchanges, flight simulators, business information and enterprise control centers, education, art and entertainment. Military applications also press the art of the possible to improve the productivity of warfighters and lower the cost of providing for the national defense. The environment in some 80% of defense applications can be addressed by ruggedization of commercial components. This paper reviews the status of ultra-resolution systems based on commercial components and describes a vision for their integration into advanced yet affordable military command centers, simulator/trainers, and, eventually, crew stations in air, land, sea and space systems.