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SFERION by ADS successfully tested in Arizona desert

09/29/2014 | By Airbus Defence and Space

In July, Airbus Defence and Space’s newly developed pilot assistance system, SFERION, was successfully tested in the Arizona desert for the first time at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, on board a U.S. Army Bell UH-1.

The test programme featured take-off and landing and taking off in brown-out conditions, flying at low-altitude over hilly ground, and navigating obstacles such as power lines and pylons.

Search and rescue, AR teams, police, special and military forces all face safety hazard security risks. This is especially true during for flights at low altitude and in conditions that limited visibility – such as brown-out, white-out or in the hours of darkness – since this increases crew workload dramatically. This can often frequently lead to a total loss of situational awareness or even tragic accidents.

SFERION provides flight crews spatial and tactical situational awareness at all times, enabling them to keep flying and performing mission-specific tasks with ease.

The test flights showed that the laser-based obstacle warning system with the SferiSense sensor at its core was able to accurately and reliably register assimilate the surroundings. SferiSense® consistently detected even the smallest obstacles, such as rocks, that might jeopardize a safe touchdown on landing. What’s more, SferiSense demonstrated its reliability even after entering a brown-out cloud with light to medium dust intensity – which means it far exceeding originals expectations.

Another technical challenge was to design the algorithms SFERION uses to successfully combine all real-time sensor readings with database information in order to generate a clear, realistic picture of the helicopter’s surroundings. One important aspect of this is the human-machine interface, which has to be able to present pilots with all the information they need – such as the next navigation point or nature of the landing zone – at any given time and, and make sure that information is easily digested in a user-friendly way. This includes the next navigation point or the nature of the landing zone.

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