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  • Writer's pictureStephen Crouch

Product Development with Hardware-in-the-Loop



Hardware-in-the-Loop System Displays


VTI’s FlightStack augments Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) with automated visual callouts of runways, landing and departing traffic, and approach guidance. This context improves the interpretability of EVS video for better pilot situational awareness. In our previous posts, we described the use of synthetic data for model development, methods for scaled testing of our software stack and flight test campaigns for real world validation. But how do we efficiently iterate on the end user experience?


In November, we stood up a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) test bench to do just that. Our custom flight simulator allows for both manual and autopilot flying while sensors are emulated and processed by FlightStack all in real time. The resulting augmented EVS feed is then displayed on one of the setups multi-function displays (MFD).



Hardware-in-the-Loop System Diagram


The quantitative aspects of our synthetic data and automated testing stack is immediately brought into focus by the HIL test bench. Our engineering team was able to quickly grasp how the product would feel while hand flying approaches into a variety of airports.




Operation of HIL Test Bench


The team was particularly excited about the ability of the system to highlight distant runways and call out runway incursions. 




Example Runway Identification and Callout 




Example Traffic Detection


Beyond the UI/UX benefit, the HIL test bench also allows us to stress test software deployment to real time compute hardware. Aside from the synthetic camera input, the software is otherwise identical to what would be deployed on a real aircraft. This allows our engineers to iron out the software in the office - a cheaper and more comfortable location than the backseat of a test aircraft!


As the development of FlightStack progresses, we are looking forward to a series of demonstrations in Q1 with technical pilots at major airlines, aircraft OEMS, and avionics suppliers. Their feedback will be critical in further shaping the product and, eventually, making the skies safer. 



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