Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Perceptually-enabled Task Guidance (PTG) programme to develop a prototype artificial intelligence (AI) assistant.
The prototype AI assistant will be embedded in an augmented reality (AR) headset to help rotary pilots perform expected and unexpected tasks, according to a February 1 release from Northrop Grumman. The company, in partnerships with the University of Central Florida, will develop an Operator and Context Adaptive Reasoning Intuitive Assistant (OCARINA) that will support UH-60 Blackhawk pilots.
“The goal of this prototype is to broaden a pilot’s skillset,” said Erin Cherry, senior autonomy programme manager, Northrop Grumman. “It will help teach new tasks, aide in the recognition and reduction of errors, improve task completion time, and most importantly, help to prevent catastrophic events.”
Rotorcraft aircrews face numerous demands particularly when flying in close proximity to buildings, terrain, people and from the threat of adversary radar systems. Today, simple warning systems are the most common means for aiding a rotorcraft aircrew, such as auditory alerts to increase altitude.
These warning systems are limiting and can induce unanticipated cognitive burdens on pilots. Studies have shown that inattentional blindness to such warnings can occur, often making them ineffective for the aircrew.
DARPA’s PTG programme aims to develop AI technologies to help users perform complex mental and physical tasks. The goal is to provide users of PTG AI assistants with wearable sensors that allow the assistant to observe what the user perceives and know what the user knows.
Using advanced information processing and an AR interface, the goal of the programme is to have the AI assistant provide feedback and guidance through speech and aligned graphics at the right place and time to augment the aircrew.