SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  N07-043 (Navy)
Title:  Tactile Situational Awareness System (TSAS)
Research & Technical Areas:  Air Platform, Information Systems, Human Systems

Acquisition Program:  AH-1W/UH-1N Helicopters
  Objective:  Develop a tactile sensory display system that will enhance pilot spatial awareness in all phases of flight and prevent aircraft mishaps.
  Description:  The primary goal of this SBIR topic is to advance the development of innovative tactile sensory displays in aircraft. As humans grow and develop, sensory systems mature to control and coordinate movements subconsciously using all of the human senses. Pilots have to be trained to ignore nearly all of these well developed and extremely accurate senses except that of visual stimuli. During times of high mission tasking, at night, or other conditions of low visibility, visual stimuli is unavailable, ignored, or another sense overwhelms pilots with the wrong information. This results in loss of situational awareness and often with catastrophic results. The tactile sensory display system will restore the sense of feel and contribute to pilot awareness of aircraft position, attitude, and rates of movement about each aircraft axis. The system will not replace visual displays but will restore human systems synergies through a innovative interface integration of existing technologies directly with the human sense of feel. Like computerized monitoring of current flight control system sensors and visual displays, TSAS will provide confirmation human sensory truth data to and better maintain aircraft situational awareness in all mission scenarios. Air vehicle systems development has matured numerous technology sensors to detect and report aircraft attitudes, rates, and vector velocities to visual display systems with remarkable accuracies. The innovative TSAS system will interface these same sensors to a tactile sensor display mounted on the pilot. The tactile sensor display will consist of a torso garment with embedded miniature operated vibrating devices. These devices, known as tactors, will vibrate in response to information reported by traditional aircraft sensors. This SBIR seeks two goals. The first is to demonstrate the integration of a common modern processor with current aircraft sensors, and embedded rate sensors or accelerometers. Current tactors have been shown to experience significant damping after loading by the skin and flight equipment resulting in a reduction in stimulation amplitude. A smaller tactor is required that is lighter, and capable of producing a stronger vibratory stimulus with amplitude control across a wide frequency range (10-350Hz) and enable a lower profile integration to pilot clothing.

  PHASE I: Determine the feasibility of developing a processor which will receive aircraft attitude and rate data, process this data and produce algorithms which will direct accurately timed discrete signals to appropriate positional tactors located in the torso vest. Identify or develop and integrate a small, lightweight, multi-frequency tactor capable of safely producing the stimulus at low energy consumption.
  PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a final application for the processor requirements, algorithms, and torso vest in an aircraft simulator. Optimize the tactor performance to include manufacturability and reliability considerations. Provide system performance level specification for processor software requirements, functional system component requirements, and aircrew torso garment requirements.

  PHASE III: Demonstrate the system on-board a helicopter with flight qualified hardware and software. Produce detailed specifications for system functional components. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/

  DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The TSAS system promises to revolutionize aircraft display systems and will improve pilot situational awareness in any aircraft. The system will have wide application in all military, commercial, and general aviation aircraft.

  References:   1. Cheung BS, Rupert AH, Jennings S, Schultz K, McGrath BJ, Craig G, Cole C. “In-Flight Evaluation of the Tactile Situation Awareness System (TSAS) in the Bell 205”, 75th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Aerospace Medical Association, 2-6 May 2004, Anchorage AK. 2. McGrath BJ, Estrada A, Braithwaite MG, Raj AK, Rupert AH. “Tactile Situation Awareness System Flight Demonstration Final Report”, USAARL Report 2004-10, US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Ft Rucker AL. Mar 2004. 3. Cholewiak, RW., Rupert, AH., McGrath, B J. “Tactile Displays for Information Transmission and Situation Awareness”. Demonstration to the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) Conference. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Dec 2002. 4. Rupert AH, McGrath BJ. “A Tool to Maintain Spatial Orientation and Situation Awareness for Operators of Manned and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Other Military Motion Platforms.” NATO conference proceedings, Spatial disorientation in military vehicles: Causes, consequences and cures. April 2002, A Coruna, Spain 5. McGrath BJ. “Tactile Instrument for Aviation". NAMRL Monograph 49, 2000.

Keywords:  Tactor, Situational Awareness; Displays; Tactile; Sensory; Human Systems

Questions and Answers:

No questions posed on this topic at this time

Record: of