Immersive Pilot Training – Isn’t it “AMAZE”-ing?
Have you ever wanted to see yourself on the jumbotron at a football game?
Or been to a concert where you could make out your favorite artist’s facial expressions on the big screen, even from the “nosebleeds?”
The technology bringing high-definition video to events is now reimagined for an unlikely use: fighter pilot training.
AMAZE, or Lockheed Martin’s Amorphic Appearance Zero-Projector visual display system, is changing the way pilots are immersed in high-fidelity training.
The Lockheed Martin team developing AMAZE evaluated the current cost, sustainment and fidelity challenges facing pilot training today and developed a solution that anticipates the needs of militaries across the globe.
Future Training Technology
As part of Lockheed Martin’s 21st Century Security vision, the team is bringing to bear the best of commercial technology to ensure service members are prepared to act faster and smarter than any potential adversary. With advanced systems like AMAZE, pilots are immersed in the environment they may encounter to train the way they fight.
The AMAZE system consists of two critical components: the LED modules and the light relay.
LED screens bring a new sense of realism to pilot training in comparison to the projector-based systems that are used today for several aircraft platforms. These current systems use projectors and mirrors to cast the images on the walls of the structure around the students – think of it like being in a snow globe. AMAZE’s LED-based display provides a higher contrast and brightness and creates a better experience overall for the pilot.
“You have direct-view LEDs right in front of you that get extremely bright,” said David Haeske, Lockheed Martin Engineering Director. “It gives us a high contrast ratio so we can increase training opportunities for pilots across scenarios such as training at night or in various weather conditions.”
The Lockheed Martin-patented design of using a light relay allows the unique shapes required to build a 360-degree dome. Using the LED screen behind it, the shapes from the light relay bring the image from the screen forward and create the full immersion in the surrounding dome.
Throughout the design of AMAZE, the team kept modularity in mind with the construction leading to an overall reduction in footprint needed to train pilots and the ability to adapt to the different missions that students will conduct throughout their training.
AMAZE can also couple with any type of image generation solution and backend architecture that Lockheed Martin can offer or that the customer sees will meet their needs.
Whether the training scenario is for day or night, landing on an aircraft carrier or flying through the mountains, pilots are able to experience an incredibly realistic immersion with AMAZE that better prepares them to transition to the actual jet.
Better Training, Better Sustaining
In comparison to the full mission simulators that utilize the projector-based system for visual display, the cost of maintaining the hardware is significantly decreased with the AMAZE solution. In AMAZE, the more cost-effective LED screens are used to bring new capabilities and minimize sustainment efforts, providing overall lifecycle cost savings for any platform that is integrated, while maintaining the qualifications for an immersive training environment.
AMAZE is upgrading current visual display systems in a few major ways, including:
- Reducing the time needed to start a simulator, with the display screens turning on almost immediately
- Lowering the overall hardware footprint needed to conduct pilot training
- Keeping the focus on training, not sustaining, with the easy replacement of LED panels
“There is no maintenance schedule and projector calibration like there is with a projector-based system,” said Haeske. “If there is a failure of an LED panel or degradation of the imagery, it’s as simple as putting a new module in and the system is fully capable within minutes.”
Saving time on system maintenance means pilots can focus more on training to keep them ready for the missions of tomorrow.
One Team’s Dream
The Lockheed Martin team developing the AMAZE visual display system kept the pilot at the forefront as the project grew from an internal research and development concept, solving challenges and anticipating the need to evolve with current and future aircraft platforms.
While the first application with AMAZE is set to be pilot training, Lockheed Martin is opening the aperture to explore where the advanced visual display system can elevate current systems.
“Because of the brightness, resolution and contrast enabled using this combination of technologies, the application of AMAZE extends far beyond pilot training,” said Adam Breed, Lockheed Martin Engineering Innovation Architect. “We are excited to see the display system used in novel ways in the very near future by commercial companies and academic institutions.”
AMAZE is bringing realism to training and simulation that has never been achieved — or “seen” — before, ensuring those who train are ready for any mission, any time.