Next-Gen Cockpits challenge : Facing to the growth of information & mass-data cloud

(This is a re-publication of an article dated 5th June 2013)

StarWars Millenium Falcon

As I explained earlier in 2012, the challenge of #NextGen #cockpit, especially the militarized and the #helicopters’, will be to answer to the growth and the clouding of #information.

Furthermore, according to Julien Maire, NH90 & Tiger Production Planner & Improver at Eurocopter, “the biggest problem is data volume: More and more, helicopters request one pilot and two operators as crew. Cockpits now contain lots of data that the pilots and crew have to access and analyse.” Maire suggests that this is the area in which industry should be investing in most.

Source : Defence IQ

Samely as industry had to face to « mass data« , resulting of the wish of integrate all information that potentially interact with or within the system / the process, to give a true global vision and allow either relevant analyses and « the right analyse for the right target »…

It is in fact a pious and legitimate aim of trying to « retranscript the reality », which is not recent, but enabled by modern technologies & sciences.

Based on the normal rule of the « 20-80« , telling that 20% of data interactions act for 80% of the result of a process.
Without a smart tool or system, adapted, flexible, dynamic and efficient (in one word : « agile« ), mass data can have critical consequences by overloading or burning out interactions between the man and the system, or by slipping from a cloud to a nebulla.

Basically, there is 3 ways (only) to transmit an information and interact with a crew :

  • Visual systems
  • Audio systems
  • Touch systems
  • The problem is that the volume of information to exchange can not be supported by a single operator through 3 vectors.

    ConcordeRobin HR200

    A basic solution is to multiplicate the size of the crew. However, this option is limited :

  • It split the information, so the capability of a « true global vision »
  • Some information can be double proceeded with a risk of conflict between solutions
  • It costs ! It costs manpower, training, money, weight (which is critical for helicopters)…
  • This split is usually, for efficient reasons, based on sub-systems :

  • 1 Pilot
  • 1 Chief of Mission, who leads the mission and the external data tranmission
  • Potentially, additional crew-members in charge of specifics mission systems
  • Dassault Falcon 7XAirbus A380
    Boeing 787 'Dreamliner'

    Another solution to improve the efficiency of data processing is to improve the access to data :

  • Through an ergonomics and intuitive system
  • By pre-selecting / filtering the information, depending of its criticity and/or comparing to other information criticities
  • Through autonomous systems and/or automatic algorithms
  • Basically, according to the normal rule of « 20-80 », this is to minimize minor information to aid the operator to focus on the most-relevants.

    However, all information are potentially useful for the operator and to permit to him to take to most-accurate decision.

    And, in fact, segregate the information might looks ergonomics, but it is not : it forces the operator to go to the information, while it is the information that should come to him (in accordance with its criticity compared to other data criticities and consistency : « the right information at the right time« ).

    For same reason, autonomous systems must be integrated carefully and smartly.

    Segregation & automatic algorithms are in only a by-default solution, but are necessary.

    Thales TopOwlImersion Harpic
    Eurocopter X4

    To answer to that problem, the solution is to multiplicate vectors, by integrating new dimension(s) on them :

  • Several visual full-color layouts
  • Typically : the use of an helmet and/or windshield display Colors ​translate also an information (a criticity or a type of status…)

  • 3D sound
  • I.e : sound on left-side for a danger on the left

  • Several touch or sensitive systems
  • Such as force feedback and/or uncomfortable sensation

  • Several « universes« 
  • With improved reality systems

    All of these NextGen improvements or solutions will have to serve the operator to get a relevant vision of the contextual environnement (considering that a « true global vision » is unefficient).

    Learn more :
    ODICIS : Thales’s cockpit of the future

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