Charles River Analytics Develops Platform for In-Flight Pilot Physiology

Charles River Analytics Develops Platform for In-Flight Pilot Physiology

Charles River Analytics Inc. has received funding from the US Navy to design its Physiologically Assessed Ratings of Aircraft Operation and Handling (PHARAOH) platform. PHARAOH uses a sensor suite to measure pilot physiology during flight without diverting the pilot’s attention. The company teamed with current and qualified pilot subject matter experts from Rickard Consulting Group to unobtrusively integrate and test PHARAOH in modern rotary and fixed-wing platform cockpit settings.

Two US Navy V-22 aircraft operate from the flight deck of the USS Iwo Jima during developmental testing. Image credit: U.S. DoD.

Flight Test Teams rely on handling quality ratings (HQRs) to evaluate new aircraft maneuverability and performance. Currently, a pilot must verbally communicate their perceptions of aircraft handling to an engineer for HQR evaluation. When delivered after the flight test, subjective event recall places cognitive burden on the pilot and can yield unreliable data for the engineer.

“PHAROAH helps engineers assess aircraft for mission readiness with objective data,” said Dr. Aaron Winder, scientist at Charles River Analytics and Technical Lead on the PHARAOH effort. “We’re using sensors to monitor pilots’ muscle movements and blink rate, as well as the wealth of information we derive from our fNIRS sensor, to reduce the cognitive burden in the cockpit.”

Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) sensors use near-infrared light to measure changes in blood oxygenation, which are related to ongoing brain activity. Charles River and Plux jointly announced the launch of a new, miniaturized fNIRS sensor in 2018.

The PHARAOH sensor suite includes our wearable fNIRS sensors (left). The PHARAOH sensors can be integrated into standard gear, such as a helmet and worn without interfering with pilot performance (right). Image credit: Charles River Analytics.

PHARAOH integrates physiological measurements seamlessly into current flight and simulator environments. Engineers will have continuous, quantitative, and objective information on pilots in live, virtual, constructive (LVC) flight scenarios. The result is robust HQR assessments and insight into the experience of pilots through streaming physiological and contextual flight data.

PHARAOH extends Sherlock, its open and extensible software and hardware platform that lets users rapidly reason about human physiological, neurological, and behavioral states. The company will integrate PHARAOH with GeMFIRE, its game-based virtual flight environment that can be tailored to a variety of emerging training gaps on multi-air platforms.

The company will integrate PHARAOH into GeMFIRE, its virtual cockpit simulator configured for F-35 mission display (left) and F/A-18 carrier landings (right). Image credit: Charles River Analytics.

Visitors can learn more about PHARAOH at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC 2019) — the world’s largest modeling, simulation, and training event— from December 2-6 in Orlando, Florida, at Booth 1239.