TerraMetrics Awarded Air Force Contract to Improve Helicopter Landing Safety During Brownouts
Littleton, Colo.—Littleton, Colorado-based TerraMetrics, Inc.,
announced today that it has been awarded an Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to investigate and develop a system that improves the safety of helicopter landings during zero-visibility conditions in dusty, desert areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Research efforts will support Air Force Special Operations Forces.
Using in-flight camera imagery, the TerraMetrics system provides helicopter pilots with an accurate, computer-generated “out-the-window” view of ground hazards and terrain features during brownouts, zero-visibility conditions that occur when the tremendous force from helicopter rotors kicks up thick clouds of dust and debris during landing. The new technology produces a continuously updated 3D terrain model of the physical landing location. This allows a pilot to identify ground hazards and other physical features that might be engulfed in a brownout.
Poor visibility can seriously compromise a pilot’s view of ground obstacles, leading to a loss of life and equipment. Helicopter pilots can take advantage of sensors to improve visibility in degraded conditions, but these often fail or function poorly in brownout conditions. More sophisticated systems that provide 3D terrain and obstacle information are becoming popular. However, these typically require extensive pre-flight data preparation and can omit critical information about vehicles and obstacle changes. The system under investigation eliminates data preparation requirements and the potential for dangerous information omissions.
Research on the new system will draw upon previous work that TerraMetrics has completed for NASA’s Langley Research Center on an innovative flight-based 3D terrain-rendering system. The company is collaborating with
two major aerospace contractors on the SBIR effort.
“We’re pleased to apply our 3D terrain-rendering expertise to a serious safety problem,” says Greg Baxes, TerraMetrics president. “Our approach completely eliminates costly pre-flight data preparations while providing a dynamic 3D terrain model that continues to refine as more data becomes available. These are unique features that can help improve aviation safety for rotorcraft as well as business and personal aircraft.”
About TerraMetrics, Inc.
Founded in 1998, TerraMetrics, Inc., is a recognized leader worldwide in providing cost-effective satellite imagery, 3D terrain datasets, and software tools to the computer visualization, simulation, Web-based mapping and animation markets. The company has recently completed research and development work on flight-based 3D terrain storage and rendering technologies, and a web services architecture that stores, processes and delivers massive, multi-dimensional science data sets to web-based geospatial platforms such as Google Earth. For more information, visit