The Visualization and Simulation (VSIM) Centre’s Advanced Cognitive Engineering Lab (ACE) is a primary example of interdisciplinary research excellence within Carleton Aerospace, specifically in the area of flight simulation and human factors. In collaboration with the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the ACE lab is leading Canadian research on pilot behaviour.
The VSIM Centre is 40,000 square feet in size and includes bays to house large-scale flight simulators, as well as an impressive array of fundamental simulation tools and technologies including motion platforms, motion cueing seats, high fidelity flight control systems and a collection projection systems.
5 aircraft simulator platforms are currently operational or under development. The ACE Lab also uses a variety of innovative technology to support simulator research such as the Mounted Helmet Displays, Projected Dome Display Systems and Research Test Beds for rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft.
CH-149 Cormorant Experimental Flight Training Device
The CH-149 Cormorant Experimental Flight Training Device is a helicopter simulator built in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Canadian Advanced Synthetic Environment (CASE) project. The simulator was created in order to support research on the role of motion cueing technology in pilot training. The simulator incorporates high fidelity flight controls with control loading, a 6 degree-of-freedom motion platform and a dynamic motion cueing seat.
Bell 206 Helicopter Simulator
The Bell 206 helicopter simulator was created by the ACE Lab to support research on the impact of visual fidelity on pilot perception and training. This simulator includes one of the most realistic visual systems in the country. By leveraging rendering technology derived from the video gaming industry, the system represents the finest details of the natural environment, right down to individual blades of grass and animated leaves on trees that respond to ambient winds and downwash from the simulated helicopter rotor blades.
Cessna Fixed-Wing Simulator
With the authentic fuselage of a 1966 Cessna 172 Skyhawk, this simulator is equipped with an eight channel spherical projection system, real gauges, sound, intercom and radios. Air Traffic Control (ATC) can be emulated and detailed scenarios involving other aircraft and changes in the flight conditions can be scripted and controlled.
This simulator is being used to support ACE Lab research on cognitive health, ageing, and pilot safety as well as research on glass cockpit technologies.
The FaceLAB 4.3 system developed by Seeing Machines allows the ACE Lab researchers to track eye, head and eyelid movement of pilots in real time, making it a valuable research asset.
CF-18 Fast Air Simulator
The CF-18 Simulator provides a simulated representation of a modern fighter platform and includes a simulation of advanced aircraft avionics systems including radar and electro-optical sensors. The simulator is integrated with a state of the art Computer Generated Forces (CGF) system, enabling the creation of complex, real-world air traffic and other interactive scenarios.
The CASARA Virtual Trainer
The CASARA Virtual Trainer (CVT) is a portable training system that was designed, developed and produced by the Carleton University’s ACE Lab in partnership with the Government of Canada’s Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund (SAR NIF).
With the final CVT units having been delivered in spring 2015, there are now more than 120 CASARA virtual trainers being used nationwide to provide computer based training to the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), a national volunteer organization funded by the Department of National Defence. CASARA provides air search assistance to the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The CASARA virtual trainer is designed to recreate “in-flight” environments and realistic missions, providing hands-on training in appropriate voice communications, visual scanning techniques, call-around procedures, planning and executing visual search patterns, Emergency Location Transmitter homing techniques, map interpretation and GPS navigation.
In addition to the CVT, a web-enabled, common repository for training material was also created and delivered by the ACE Lab in order to provide ready access to authoritative information from anywhere in Canada. This technology is intended to enhance the capacity of Northern and remote operations, in addition to providing a common training environment to all CASARA members.
Virtual Reality Head Mounted Displays
The ACE Lab has a variety of Head Mounted Display (HMD) systems and technologies in order to support research into the application of Virtual Reality (VR) to create immersive experiences for virtual presence, situational awareness and training. These HMDs include products from Sensics, Sony and Oculus VR and also integrate advanced head, eye and body tracking technologies.
Broad-Angle Display System
The Broad-Angle Display System (BADS) utilizes eight theater-quality1080p projectors and a 14ft tall, 180 degree curved screen to create highly immersive visual environments. It is designed with a large “mouth” allowing for rapid interchanging of simulators and structures of different footprints, providing great usage flexibility. The flexibility of the hardware also allows for a diverse software usage allowing the lab to create visuals using a range of professional image generation solutions, commercial game engines and in-house software.
Typically, BADS has been used for flight simulation support and cognitive experimentation in virtual environments.
Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) Research Test Bed (RTB)
CAE Inc. has provided the ACE Lab with a high-fidelity UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicle simulator. The simulator represents a MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) UAV and is fully configured with the scenario generation capabilities. The UAV simulator supports a variety of research projects, including a joint CAE – ACE Lab project examining the integration of UAVs into civil airspace.