The Air Force will equip its F-16 with an anti-crash system, Auto-GCAS for Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System. This equipment will take control of the aircraft if it detects that the path of the aircraft is at risk of imminent crash. Tested on drones for years by NASA, this equipment is another milestone in the progress of automation in manned aircraft to be increasingly optionally piloted drones. This project also marks a new approach in the development of embedded software, as researchers have developed their algorithms on a smartphone. And indeed it seems highly specialized software that could be on the spacecraft of NASA, the civilian aircraft and perhaps even our automobiles.
Software developed on Android and tested on drone
It looks like nothing but a big plane by remote control. The DROID (Dryden Remotely Operated Integrated Drone) is a small drone that NASA scientists have used to develop the Auto-GCAS, anti-collision, which will equip the F-16D of the USAF and its F-22 and F-35. Connected to the autopilot DROID, the software “take the stick” when it detects an imminent crash and have performed to the device violent maneuver to avoid the danger. A hundred people would die each year in the United States due to pilot disorientation or pilot error close to the ground.
The development of the system began in the 80s and the researchers chose to develop on an Android smartphone. This one, from the ground, takes control of the control module Piccolo (Cloud Cap Technology) in case of danger.
After validation on the DROID, the system was mounted on an F16-D. 59 test flights were conducted and 556 emergency maneuvers by the Auto-GCAS fortunately without damage to the aircraft and its pilot. This success has prompted officials of the Air Force to decide to equip the current fleet of F-16 with this application and to conduct the necessary adaptations for the F-22 and F-35. If the software has been adapted to be installed in the F-16’s onboard system, researchers have indeed created a version for smartphone and tablet application that civilian pilots may well take flight with them to improve their safety . BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in the field of aviation sector, the mobile revolution has not stopped surprising us!
Source : “NASA-Pioneered Automatic Ground-Collision Avoidance System Operational”, NASA, October 8, 2014