The first step toward interactive performance of a flight on a robotic arm was taken in 2010 by BEC at the Center for Robotics and Mechatronics of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), where a robot-based motion simulator was mounted on a 10 meter linear axis. Thanks to the modular design of the simulator pod, instrument modules could be easily exchanged, and different aircraft or helicopter simulations could be carried out. The results of this research have already been applied at the German Aerospace Center to a simulator for the Diamond DA42 aircraft model.
In contrast to pure cockpit procedure training, the robot's freedom of motion is not only capable of representing the simulated flight motions visually, it can also realistically transmit the corresponding changes in position and motion. In BEC's standard flight simulators, the virtual environment is depicted directly using two HD-quality projectors that display images on the inside of the closed cabin dome. Thus pilots can also train for multiple-risk situations which are not only time-consuming for training aircraft and helicopters they are also too dangerous to perform in a real aircraft. Thanks to the possibility of simulating even extreme rolling and pitching motions, extraordinary flight maneuvers, such asinverted flight, in which the pilot flies upside-down, can be represented without difficulty. The pilot can train for critical situations over and over again, and the simulated flights can be followed live in the training rooms and quickly reconstructed. Thus the 6DoF motion platforms are especially suitable for initial training, and also for regular refresher training.
Depending on the flight simulator's equipment, the pilot is provided not only motion feedback and visual simulation of the scene, but also acoustic and vibratory effects, together with true simulation of the surface feel of the control elements. The direct feedback from operator interventions on the motion behavior of the simulator bring about a very immersive experience, resulting in realistic pilot behavior. This enables, for example, intensive training in emergency procedures which would otherwise only be imaginable if complete loss of the machine was acceptable.
Spatial Disorientation pilot Training
While vertigo in general could mean dizziness, unsteadiness or lightheadedness, in the medical field this term describes a major symptom of balance disorder. To the pilot, vertigo or spatial disorientation more often means "Which way is up?". In the aviation world it describes a condition, where an aircraft pilot's sense of direction does not agree with reality and he has lost the awareness of location in relation to a particular place in the earth's surface. The pilot is unable to sense correctly the position, motion or attitude of his aircraft or of himself within the fixed coordinate system of the earth and the gravitational vertical.
We maintain spatial orientation on ground, but in the flight environment it is unfamiliar and creates sensory conflicts and illusions that make spatial orientation difficult, and, in some cases, even impossible to achieve. This is where spatial disorientation takes place. While vertigo can literally mean dizziness, it is the human's failure to picture the position relative to the horizon that makes it a truly dangerous problem. This is basically the reason why spatial disorientation is one of the major concerns and issues in the aviation world. It is widely understood, that 5% and 10% of all general aviation accidents can be attributed to spatial disorientation, 90% of which are fatal.
Reason behind spatial disorientation (vertigo)
Clinical explanation of the phenomenon lies with the inner ear in the human body. Its functions are to give the brain information about rotation, altitude and linear motion of the head. It uses complex mechanism of canals and organs of equilibrium. Changes in linear acceleration, angular acceleration, and gravity are detected by the vestibular system and the proprioceptive receptors (located in the skin, muscles, tendons, and joints), and then compared in the brain with visual information. Any disagreements and conflicts between these stimuli will result in confusion and sensory mismatch that can produce illusions and eventually lead to spatial disorientation.
Flight Simulation Training and prevention of spatial disorientation
- Awareness of disorientation
- Understanding its causes, prevention and possible treatment
- Flight simulation training with full motion range in conditions of low or zero visibility
- Ways to regain orientation quickly
- Consider relying on the instruments while in spatial disorientation