A First for Latin America
The Argentine Defence University – a unit of the MoD – has developed a prototype helmet-mounted display (HMD) for the HGU-55P helmet, the standard headgear for Argentine Air Force aircrew.
Under development since 2017 by the research and development group of the university’s Department of Basic Sciences, the PIDDEF 04/16 project is leading the way in Argentina in investigation of technologies that can be applied to improved situational awareness – and it the first prototype development incorporating augmented reality (AR)
The objectives set for this prototype were to develop a technology demonstrator able to superimpose a virtual image that appears to be located at least four metres from the eye and reaching five to six metres – enough to persuade the eye to perceive it as being infinitely distant. This characteristic is essential for the pilot to be able to see the clear virtual image simultaneously with seeing the real world, avoiding the conflict that comes from focusing on the surrounding images. This is one of the most important features that differentiates this prototype from other commercial AR devices, along with the evidence that its development is geared directly to future achievement of a certificate of airworthiness.
The system is also able to fixed symbology on the user’s vision and keep them permanently in view – for example, to present speed and altitude information, and can also superimpose mobile symbols that appear to be fixed to the ground – for example, for target marking. Work is currently underway on the implementing functions that allow the user to interact with the system through eye gestures, getting the user to, for example, select targets with a blink of the eye. The possibility also exists to control helmet and platform configuration through drop-down menus and virtual buttons.
The project is aimed at aircrew, but can also be applied to land and naval platforms, due to its easy adaptation to any type of helmet. This is the first HMD developed in Latin America and is expected to provide a locally-built solution for military pilots.
Santiago Rivas and Florencia Lucero Heguy in Buenos Aires for MON