The US Air Force is seeking an improved digital helmet-mounted display (DHMD) for pilots, in response to the increasing complexity of aircraft and weapons systems.In a recent request for information posted on the US government’s procurement website, the USAF says it seeks a helmet that improves pilots’ situational awareness and has features that integrate sensor data to help pilots better identify targets. The helmet system should also monitor pilot health and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the helmet.
The request says the USAF seeks a new helmet that makes better use of symbol displays – called symbology – and possibly uses “conformal”, or three-dimensional, symbols.Also of interest is eye tracking technology that would allow information to be presented where pilots are looking, rather than where they are facing, says the USAF.
The service also wants a helmet that digitally incorporates night vision capability, and one that collects information gained from a variety of sensors, including mid-wave and long-wave infrared sensors and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors, says the request.
The USAF wants that information to be processed using algorithms that would help the pilot to better detect and identify ground objects, such as vehicles, humans, terrain hidden by fog, haze or dust, as well as objects concealed by floors and vehicles, says the service.
In addition, the system should be able to distinguish whether humans or vehicles are friend or foe, says the notice.It would also have cognitive and physiological pilot monitoring that would identify, and prevent mishaps caused by pilot fatigue, cognitive overload, unconsciousness or spatial disorientation. The eye tracking system could potentially monitor vigilance and sleepiness by monitoring blinking and the amount of time a pilot’s eyes are closed, says the request.
Monitor Pilot Biological Data
The USAF is interested in monitoring heart activity with electrocardiogram data and brain activity with electroencephalography data.The helmet system could also monitor “galvanic skin response” – used to identify sweat – blood flow, hydration and mask oxygen and carbon dioxide content, says the USAF.