CAE and Neptec Design Group have successfully demonstrated a synthetic vision system that fuses real-time landscape captured by a Neptec-built light detection and ranging (Lidar) sensor with a CAE-built terrain database

According to the companies, pilots flying a UH-1 test helicopter equipped with a prototype system were able to “see through” brownout conditions to “easily differentiate between rocks, bushes, sloping terrain, utility poles, ground vehicles and wires at distances greater than 200m.” The tests of the Augmented Visionics System (AVS) took place "recently" at the US Department of Defence’s Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, says CAE.

Along with Neptec’s obscurant penetrating asynchronous Lidar (Opal), CAE is also investigating other vision aids such as forward-looking infrared systems with which to perform real-time fusing updates to a terrain database it developed for the US special operations command to support rapid, correlated database production.

Pictured below is an early prototype of the system that CAE flew on a Bell 412 for the Canadian National Research Council.

Neptec Opal©CAE

CAE says brownout problems -- vision-cutting dust recirculation caused by rotor downwash – cost the US Army more than $60 million per year in equipment damage and pilot risk. The company plans to continue investing in the technology as part of its recently announced $714 million, five-year Falcon project.

Also working on brownout solutions is Honeywell with partners Sikorsky and Sierra Nevada. The companies in January tested a system that fuses Honeywell’s terrain database with output from Sierra Nevada’s 94GHz forward-looking millimetre-wave radar data on a fly-by-wire Sikorsky JUH-60 Black Hawk. The work is part of a now-completed US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-funded program called Sandblaster.