The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract to a partnership of Northrop Grumman and the University of Central Florida (UCF) for the development of a prototype artificial intelligence (AI) pilot assistant.
The assistant, known as Operator and Context Adaptive Reasoning Intuitive Assistant (OCARINA), is part of DARPA’s Perceptually-enabled Task Guidance (PTG) program, and is intended to support Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk pilots in carrying out a range of expected and unexpected tasks. The assistant will be incorporated into pilots’ augmented reality (AR) headsets.
According to Erin Cherry, Senior Autonomy Program Manager at Northrop Grumman: “The goal of this prototype is to broaden a pilot’s skillset. It will help teach new tasks, aid in the recognition and reduction of errors, improve task completion time, and most importantly, help to prevent catastrophic events.”
The assistant is intended to supersede the basic warning systems common in most rotorcraft, such as auditory alerts to increase altitude. In a statement, Northrop Grumman said that: “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.”