SIFT Researcher Awarded Patent

Josh Hamell has been awarded patent 9,529,357, "Mechanism for Path Specification, Visualization and Control", with Colonel Jeffrey Eggers, Dr Mark Draper, Robert Shaw, and Heath Ruff.  This patent was a product of SIFT's efforts in the FLEX-IT program with AFRL, which dealt heavily with varying levels of control within an increasingly autonomous environment.

In this specific context, the group defined a framework whereby current or desired input commands to the aircraft might be reviewed and visualized, effectively drawing a 'noodle' forward from the vehicle's map representation.  Part of this involved defining input mechanism set closely tied to HOTAS (Hands On Throttle and Stick) controls, which then led to the ability to assert a complex series of composite flight actions to be executed at some point in the future.  The visualization supplied easy to understand annotations of the future flight path including anticipated changes in air speed, potential climbs/descends, duration of segments, and so on.

Patent summary:

Method and apparatus for operator supervision and direction of highly autonomous vehicles 

A system for automating the control of a Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) includes a computer having a processor and a memory, a display operatively coupled to the computer and configured to display a future operating condition of the RPV and an input device operatively coupled to the computer. A predicted noodle tool is executed by the processor and configured to indicate a predicted future path of the RPV by generating a predicted noodle segment on the display. A directed noodle tool is executed by the processor to indicate a pilot-adjustable proposed future flight path of the RPV by generating a directed noodle segment on the display. Further, an input device mode selector is operatively coupled to the processor and configured to selectively map the input device to either manipulate a control surface of the RPV, or to manipulate the directed noodle segment.