Redbird Demos Mixed Reality Flight Simulator

Redbird Flight is testing a prototype of its Redbird TD Basic Flight Training (BATD) desktop device equipped with a software-led mixed reality headset that gives users a more realistic and immersive flying experience. Many companies are developing mixed reality systems, but Redbird promises a cost of tens of thousands of dollars versus hundreds of thousands of systems from manufacturers of traditional simulators.

On display at Redbird this week at the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Redbird setup consists of a desktop BATD, a Varjo mixed reality headset, and an image generation system developed by Quantum 3D. Redbird encourages visitors to its gallery to experience a mixed reality simulation.

Mixed Reality (MR) combines a virtual reality (VR) view of the outside world with the user’s ability to see and interact with physical devices. A pilot using the Redbird MR system while wearing the Varjo headset sees a 360-degree view of the outside world simply by looking in any direction. But unlike VR headsets, where users have to manipulate the simulation buttons and controls using some kind of cursor control device, the MR headset has cameras on the outside that indicate which direction the user is looking at.

These cameras show the user a part of the physical world, in this case, the dashboard of a Cessna 172 simulation, so the user can see their hands moving the yoke, twisting a handle, or pressing a button. The result is a more realistic virtual reality experience and better positive transmission in the training environment.

Running MR requires a lot of computing power, and Redbird uses two powerful GPUs, one for each eye. The visual elements of the outside world that the user sees are not only those of the core simulation software (Redbird uses Prepar3d, but Quantum3D also works with X-Plane), but Quantum3D’s Mantis module-based image creation software platform.

Mantis is already in use in some military applications and Virgin Galactic has used the Quantum3D system to train pilots for its suborbital flights, according to Murat Koss, Quantum3D CEO. An air ambulance operator in Germany is using Quantum3D MR to train an Airbus H145 helicopter pilot, and there is also an application for firefighting flight operations.

The Mantis system provides HD graphics at 60 frames per second. Some of Mantis’ capabilities include a variety of weather phenomena, ocean effects, spinning washes, global terrain, over 30,000 airports, night vision goggles and an infrared sensor clone. “We have a bunch of D-level airports and weather,” Koss said.

During a demonstration of the MR system, I moved a simulated Cessna 172 in traffic pattern at San Francisco International Airport. Being able to look in any direction and see the plane as if you were sitting in it was a huge improvement over the average desktop simulator. However, at the same time, I could look straight at the dashboard and see my hands on the steering wheel and throttle and depress the G1000’s avionics buttons and twist the knobs.

The pictures kept their pace as I quickly moved my head from side to side without delay. The dashboard was rather sharp, although there were some parts of the view that were a little blurry.

Anyway, I was able to fly the simulator immersed in seeing the outside world, and I could easily judge the turn time from the downwind to the base leg by looking back over my shoulder, which is hard to do in a normal desktop simulator. The only thing it lacks is any sense of control, though Redbird can easily add an MR system to one of its motion-based simulators and add feedback to the handlebars.

Redbird is hoping to gain FAA approval to use the MR simulator as a BATD, which allows for credit for some instrument flying and currency training. Josh Harnagel, Redbird’s executive vice president of marketing, said aviation programs at aviation universities and high schools are “more excited about it.”

Redbird is also developing an Advanced Flight Training Device (AATD) that replicates the Air Force T-1A Jayhawk (Beechjet). The Air Force has ordered 25 Redbird AATDs and will use them for jet transition training to replace T-1As after they are decommissioned. AATDs will have Redbird’s current visualization, but Harnagel said Can be equipped with MR . system If the Air Force wants to add an MR . capability.

“The new proof-of-concept device is a promising step forward in enhancing the human-computer interface for flight simulation,” said Redbird CEO Todd Willinger. “In years of research and development for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality systems, we have found that creating a more immersive visual environment has come at the cost of hampering a pilot’s ability to accurately interact with the physical elements required in certified training hardware. This device allows pilots to see and adapt to everything inside and outside the aircraft’s surface – Both virtual and physical – demonstrating that it can become an effective solution for professional flight training.”

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