Helmet tracking is technology that can detect where a pilot is looking and perform certain tasks, such as display information on a pilot’s helmet visor. This is done by calculations that measure the spatial (XYZ) position and orientation or the direction (yaw, pitch, roll) of the pilot’s head.
Airborne dog fights – a thing of the past
With this technology the pilot no longer has to try and follow his target in flight in order to line his aircraft up with his target’s aircraft to get missile lock before firing the missile. He now only has to look at the target and the missile will lock on.
South Africa has decades of experience in helmet tracking technology that dates back to the early ‘80s that gives pilots a ‘first shoot advantage’ that significantly affects their peacekeeping roles.
Helmet tracker angles are used to carefully place symbols, such as landmarks or runways on the visor of a pilot’s helmet. This can be used to highlight landmarks and targets so that the real world items are tagged in the pilot’s vision. Other navigational cues such as the horizon, direction and helicopter landing pads can be drawn. This greatly improves safety in poor visibility conditions.
The helmet tracker can also simulate a transparent cockpit, making difficult tasks, such as landing a helicopter on a ship in stormy weather, much safer and more efficient.
Based on existing technology
The CSIR’s optical helmet tracker was designed to show the suitability of CSIR’s patented Automatic Photogrammetric Camera Calibration System (APCCS) for helmet tracking purposes. The APCCS is already being used to calibrate the cameras for the Wide Area Surveillance System projects, which generate real-time panoramic multi-spectral, fused images in real-time.
The work is ongoing and aims to merge the helmet tracker and wide area surveillance research to create real-time virtual see-through armour applications.