Rotor Drone

Choose Your Own Reality

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Like it or not, we all live in the same reality: all of us exist under the effects of Earth’s gravitatio­nal field, atmospheri­c chemistry, diurnal cycle and our own innate biology. The world rolls on, and will until the heat death of our sun in about five billion years, in full compliance with the laws of physics. None of us can change that — however, we can change the way it looks. Here are some options:

AUGMENTED REALITY (AR)

By superimpos­ing visual informatio­n between us and the real world, AR allows us to simultaneo­usly perceive the world around us, augmented with relevant content displayed by a computer system. The first practical, widespread use of AR took the form of Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) in military aircraft, which display the aircraft’s weapons status, attitude, altitude, heading, remaining fuel, radar target lock and other crucial flight informatio­n on a transparen­t screen located directly in the pilot’s line of sight.

The technology was actually pioneered during the Royal Air Force during World War II and has since become a universal fixture on all military and even some commercial aircraft.

Epson Moverios employed by Embry-Riddle researcher­s in this study provide a HUD-type capability for drone pilots, by projecting their aircraft’s video link and telemetry into their field of view, while simultaneo­usly keeping the aircraft in sight.

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)

A person employing a VR system blocks out the real world, in favor of a computer-generated simulation. VR is a burgeoning sector of the computer gaming industry, allowing players to immerse themselves in fantasy worlds and use the movement of their entire body as a game controller. This technology has also found applicatio­ns in fields as diverse as architectu­re and urban design, healthcare, occupation­al health and safety, education and many others.

VR has been used to create tours of inaccessib­le locations, such as the Internatio­nal Space Station or ancient cities that have long since fallen into ruin, providing a lifelike experience for virtual visitors who could otherwise never see them.

The first VR experience­s were created by artists in the 1970s, using powerful computers made available by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. One challenge that the industry has yet to address is how to prevent VR users from looking like world-class dweebs.

MIXED REALITY

Sharing elements of both AR and VR, mixed reality allows its users to perceive their actual surroundin­gs through a transparen­t screen. However, the mixed-reality system uses this screen to display a virtual object anchored at a specific location in the real world. Combined with simultaneo­us localizati­on and mapping (SLAM) technology, mixed reality allows multiple individual­s in the same physical space to see the same virtual object, each from their own perspectiv­e.

One use case might involve a group of architects working together on a new building design. The design exists only as a virtual 3D object, perceived to be displayed on a real conference table that they have all gathered around. The participan­ts are able to walk around the model, examining it from different sides and exchange comments and ideas with their peers.

The best-known mixed reality system currently available is the Microsoft HoloLens, first released in 2016. It borrowed its tracking technology from the Kinect module produced for the Xbox gaming system.

ADVANTAGE: AUGMENTED REALITY

When the pilots flew a comparable mission using AR technology, the results were dramatic: very nearly the reverse of the previous test. Wearing the Moverios, the pilots spent more than half of the time looking up at the aircraft. For Thirtyacre, this was an important insight—one that will require further research to confirm, but also one that hinted AR might have an important role to play in the future of UAS operations.

“In accordance with Part 107, we need to maintain VLOS with the aircraft. Does hearing the aircraft behind me while looking at the GCS constitute VLOS? I don’t think so,” he said. “I think it is very important that we understand where the aircraft is and the environmen­t around it. If you’re not looking at your aircraft, how do you know you’re not flying over people? How do you know where or not there are power lines nearby?”

One question Thirtyacre would like to see addressed by a future study is the question of “dwell time.” That is, how long are the uninterrup­ted stretches pilot spend looking at the GCS display, before visually checking in with the aircraft.

“Manned pilots are constantly scanning the environmen­t while they are flying. They periodical­ly glance down at their instrument­s, but that interval is measured in seconds,” he said. “My guess is that we’ll find people stare at the display for two, three or four minutes at a time. We need to move toward an approach that more closely resembles what happens in manned aviation.”

 ?? (Photo courtesy of Hoshinim) ?? Mixed reality systems allow virtual objects to be embedded in the real world, with each individual user perceiving the object from their own perspectiv­e—creating a potent tool for collaborat­ion.
(Photo courtesy of Hoshinim) Mixed reality systems allow virtual objects to be embedded in the real world, with each individual user perceiving the object from their own perspectiv­e—creating a potent tool for collaborat­ion.
 ?? (Photo courtesy of Embry-Riddle Aeronautic­al University) ?? Dr. Scott Burgess of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautic­al University Worldwide Campus depart of flight looks up at his aircraft through a pair of Epson Moverio augmented reality (AR) glasses.
(Photo courtesy of Embry-Riddle Aeronautic­al University) Dr. Scott Burgess of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautic­al University Worldwide Campus depart of flight looks up at his aircraft through a pair of Epson Moverio augmented reality (AR) glasses.
 ??  ?? Virtual reality (VR) users completely immerse their vision and hearing in a synthetic world by means of a head-mounted display (HMD).
Virtual reality (VR) users completely immerse their vision and hearing in a synthetic world by means of a head-mounted display (HMD).
 ??  ?? Patrick Sherman is a full-time U AS instructor attheEmbry-Riddle Aeronautic­al University WorldwideC­ampus Department of Flight.
Patrick Sherman is a full-time U AS instructor attheEmbry-Riddle Aeronautic­al University WorldwideC­ampus Department of Flight.

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