HomeNewsArticle Display

Researchers test virtual reality Adaptive Flight Training Study

Second Lt. Kenneth Soyars, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, takes off during a virtual reality flight simulation Jan. 10, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Two subjects flew at a time but no other subjects were allowed to watch or learn from other individuals’ sorties. The Adaptive Flight Training Study pushed subjects to learn through the VR technology. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Second Lt. Kenneth Soyars, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, takes off during a virtual reality flight simulation Jan. 10, 2018, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Two subjects flew at a time but no other subjects were allowed to watch or learn from other individuals’ sorties. The Adaptive Flight Training Study pushed subjects to learn through the VR technology. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Col. William Denham, 14th Flying Training Wing Vice Commander, and the Adaptive Flight Training Study research team look onto Lt. Col. Marc Deshaies, 14th Student Squadron Commander as he flies a virtual aircraft Jan. 9, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The study was held primarily to find out if the VR environment would help adults learn at or above the rates they are currently learning, and how the brain works and reacts in conjunction with other parts of the body during the learning process.
 (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Col. William Denham, 14th Flying Training Wing vice commander, and the Adaptive Flight Training Study research team watch Lt. Col. Marc Deshaies, 14th Student Squadron commander, as he flies a virtual aircraft Jan. 9, 2018, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The study was held primarily to find out if the VR environment would help adults learn at or above the rates they are currently learning, and how the brain works and reacts in conjunction with other parts of the body during the learning process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Second Lt. Madeline Schmitz, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, prepares to take flight in the T-6 Texan II flight simulator Jan 10, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The Adaptive Flight Training Study here pushed subjects to learn through the virtual reality technology but used the T-6 flight simulator as a baseline to compare the other VR sorties to. This allowed researchers to see if the subject’s flights got better or worse after the VR flight training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Second Lt. Madeline Schmitz, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, prepares to take flight in the T-6 Texan II flight simulator Jan 10, 2018, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The Adaptive Flight Training Study pushed subjects to learn through the virtual reality technology but used the T-6 flight simulator as a baseline to compare the other VR sorties. This allowed researchers to see if the subject’s flights got better or worse after the VR flight training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- A team of student researchers from Air Command and Staff College, Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, conducted an Adaptive Flight Training Study Jan. 9-12, 2018, at Columbus AFB, Mississippi,to aid in the Air Force’s advancement in training and education through virtual reality.

The study was held primarily to find out if the VR environment would help adults learn at or above the rates they are currently learning, and how the brain works and reacts in conjunction with other parts of the body during the learning process.

Three test groups were tasked to fly a T-6 Texan II simulator with no prior T-6 flying experience. The groups ranged from experienced pilots who had not flown the T-6; pilots who have limited flying experience and none within the T-6; and the final group had no flying experience whatsoever.

“We took the idea of learning through advanced technologies like VR, and came up with our idea of a targeted learning system,” said Maj. Matt Elmore, Air Command and Staff College student. “We are focusing on how our troops learn, using technology to measure the person, the environment and their performance, to see if we can provide better feedback both adaptively in the curriculum and to provide variables or indicators to select people for certain jobs based on the results.”

The three test groups flew four simulations; the first simulated flight set the baseline so the data could be compared to the other three flights. The task was to fly a basic sortie around Columbus AFB and land safely.

During the baseline simulation flight, participants were given 10 minutes to read instructions of the pattern they would be flying and how to operate the aircraft. For their virtual training sessions the subjects were given three learning environments, providing less optical and auditory cues as they progressed to help them learn their task.

Following their training sessions the subjects would fly a final flight in the T-6 Texan II flight simulator to determine if there was any improvement through the virtual reality training.

“The data we are gathering can hopefully help us start to determine the key factors of what makes individuals succeed or perform better,” Elmore said. “Now this won’t be an end all be all, but it’s good to be on the leading edge of this and start the conversation.”

Because there is a lot of data being gathered, there are multiple groups attached to this project. Only a handful of individuals traveled to Columbus AFB to set up and conduct the study, each of them with a specific skill and portion of the study to control.

“There’s a lot of use cases with our technology that the Air Force was trying to do, like being able to actually measure the activity of the brain as a student was learning to fly,” said David Zakariaie, Senseye CEO.

The Senseye team members are primarily setting up the gear, running the VR programs, and collecting the data from where, when and how the subject’s eyes are moving throughout their sorties.

“We’re focusing on pilots now, but everything that we are doing here today, could be applied to almost any [Air Force specialty code],” Zakariaie said.

Along with the tracking of eye movement, another set of data that will be collected; the heart and respiratory patterns will be tracked throughout the study to see if any connection can be made to patterns of success or failure during subject’s flights.

“We were briefed on the study and learned they wanted to include, in all of this, an element of state assessment,” said Capt. Wesley Baker, Air Force Research Laboratory deputy program manager for cognitive performance optimization. “For the purposes of this study I will be measuring the heart rate and respiration data of 15 individuals as they fly in the simulations.”

The data is specifically being collected from the eyes, heart and lungs to possibly find each individual’s estimated maximum cognitive loads; this is a factor on the success of the research, as the implications of the possible findings could be applied to limitless training environments across the Air Force.

“What we want to prove is that a virtual reality environment will help our students learn at a faster rate than the traditional methods, and more effectively,” Elmore said. “The real question is where can’t this kind of learning go? We can drive this training and make it work for us instead of playing catch up and that’s a big takeaway, if we become early adopters.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
.@HAFB #Airmen and the F-35 are a lethal combo during exercise Red Flag. For more about the exercise:… https://t.co/nc7F82hPI8
A B-2 Spirit bomber, deployed from @Whiteman_AFB, is staged on the flightline @JointBasePHH, Jan. 30, 2019. (… https://t.co/SVPJe2AfGH
#USAF, @USMC & @USArmy air & ground force elements train together, strengthen skills in the field and sky. #Jointhttps://t.co/Arm1IXIaDy
#DYK: @DMAFB is one of seven #AirForce bases w/forward area refueling point capabilities, and there are only 63 qua… https://t.co/UI2SzoYdjA
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Anyone out there watch Super Bowl LIII? Well, @USNorthernCmd and NORAD fighter aircraft kept the airspace safe during t…
#AirForce formalizes policy on retention of non-deployable Airmen. https://t.co/O8yfj5acRt https://t.co/7t5ynNMgo2
It's a 2-way street! Find out how our #ProfessionalDevelopment Teams are a benefit to both mentor and mentee.… https://t.co/nxmtpZWnis
.@30thSpaceWing civilians use #innovation, reutilization, and team dynamics to save #USAF $1 billion.… https://t.co/TpFKYvaxay
.@374AirliftWing #Airmen are leading the way, learning how the M50 gas mask works w/other #USAF large-frame aircraf… https://t.co/n3cuh1OQnd
“Being self-aware and keeping my mental composure through very intense situations was key.” - Senior #Airman Jeffre… https://t.co/DM22RiBKNN
Citing health, safety concerns, @SecAFOfficial and @GenDaveGoldfein order commanders to conduct ‘100% review’ of al… https://t.co/DzvwOAQDvH
The 6 finalists of @SecAFOfficial’s #SparkTank initiative will showcase their ideas to #USAF senior leaders at… https://t.co/s9PUuNa3BN
The U.S. considers freedom to operate in #space a vital national interest, one that is fundamental to prosperity &… https://t.co/qcgciOUiTe
WARNING: This will leave you wanting more! https://t.co/8oLhRQXyiE
RT @cspan: Today on C-SPAN: 10am – Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew @atlanticcouncil 12:15pm – U.S. Withdrawal from #Afghanistan @cftni
#DYK ice can make an aircraft heavier and freeze the flight controls? Maintenance #Airmen ensure frozen contaminati… https://t.co/cymhD8VQI2
Let's start this #B2uesday off right and ready! @Whiteman_AFB https://t.co/u4zY77HJWx
Find out how integrated #combat turns, or ICTs, are making a major impact on combat operations! @DMAFB https://t.co/EBezmHLrgq