Augmented reality takes flight in aviation
Once perceived as the technology of the future, AR technology adoption has been steadily increasing over the past few years, with its numerous applications transforming the way people view and learn from their surroundings. As AR has started to become a larger part of our lives, technology has already expanded and has groundbreaking applications in the aviation industry. Funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the AEROGLASS (Augmented reality aerial navigation for a safer and more effective aviation) project unveiled an innovative solution that attempts to put AR in front of pilots’ eyes. The AEROGLASS turnkey smart glass solution provides general aviation pilots a true 3D, 360° view of navigation and safety features. Making aviation safer and better One of the largest challenges for aviation professionals is accurately and safely navigating an aircraft. Current studies show that pilot error accounts for up to 70 % of all aviation accidents. Piloting an aircraft requires translating complex readings from the control panel displayed in 2D into a 3D environment and 360° reality. Accessing this information also requires pilots to take their eyes off the sky, thereby making them more prone to errors and increasing their stress levels. With a headset on, pilots will now be able to have digital 3D information appearing naturally in their field of vision, helping them make faster and better decisions. ‘Our product is an AR solution based on smart glasses. When pilots wear them, they will continue to see the scenery around them, but in addition to that, relevant safety and navigation information will be overlaid transparently within their field of view,’ says Ákos Maróy, founder of Aero Glass. ‘Pilots using Aero Glass will now be able to visualise information that would otherwise be invisible such as pre-designated flight – ‘highways in the sky’ – navigation points, cities and villages, airspaces, air traffic, and even the runway and taxiways.’ Development of this technology – which is now in its early form – combated certain challenges for aviation applications. Traditional AR technology solutions for ground-based applications simply did not work for moving vehicles. AEROGLASS is a self-contained solution – everything is running on the smart glasses. This causes some challenges in terms of computing performance and storage size. ‘For the AR content to precisely overlap reality, a very small error margin for visualisation – approximately 0.1 degrees – is allowed,’ says Maróy. Into the market At first, the newly developed technology targets professional general aviation, but after some time AEROGLASS plans to utilise its technology in other transportation domains such as automotive and maritime or even for passengers. In 2016, AEROGLASS participated in the annual gathering of EAA AirVenture in Wisconsin, presenting its smart glasses and software for aviation. Project partners are also proud to have won the ‘Best Application’ award at the Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara this year. AWE is the world’s largest industry event dedicated to AR. The AEROGLASS project is fundraising from venture capital to support its activities. Further financial support will encourage innovation and influence economic growth.
AEROGLASS, aviation, pilots, augmented reality, navigation, smart glasses