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    Controlling the Kraken, First Research Study

    Controlling the Kraken, First Research Study

    Photo By Megan Mudersbach | Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton’s (NAMRU-Dayton) Dr. Henry Williams (left),...... read more read more



    Story by Megan Mudersbach 

    Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton

    Researchers from the Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton (NAMRU-Dayton) presented on the first research study conducted in the Disorientation Research Device (DRD) capsule during the Spatial Disorientation and Performance panel at the 2019 Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) annual meeting in Las Vegas, May 6.

    The DRD, also known as the Kraken, is the Navy’s newest one-of-a kind aerospace medicine research device that is housed and operated at NAMRU-Dayton at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

    “The DRD was designed as a basic research device. Our long term vision, and the first challenge presented to us, was the immediate development of the DRD for an applied research study looking at pilot spatial awareness and commercial aviation mishap prevention,” said Captain Richard Folga, Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist, Kraken Program Manager and Engineering and Technical Support Services Department Head at NAMRU-Dayton.

    In support of NASA’s Advanced Flight Deck Countermeasures – 4 (AFCD-4) project testing safety enhancements to prevent loss of energy state awareness in commercial aviation, the Kraken team overcame several significant challenges.

    “We had to prove we could fly this device like an airplane while driving the visual displays like a high fidelity flight simulator” said Folga. “This was a huge challenge for the first project and will continue to be a challenge for years to come. There was enormous effort put into mastering motion control by interpretation of offline flight simulation generated flight physics data and creating the technical approach to smooth the transfer of commands to the DRD.”

    The team developed six custom software applications that included resolving network architecture congestion, code development for the flight controls and high speed synchronous remote communication for in-capsule and in-control room processers.

    “To have all components work cooperatively on one network we had to create unique software applications and interfaces as well as custom build and integrate NASA-provided hardware and software,” said Folga.

    During the panel, Mr. Cortland Etgen, applied mathematician and DRD Motion Control lead explained, “We explored models and conventions applied to similar flying devices throughout history.”

    Jointly with NASA, the Kraken’s first human subjects experienced a portion of the research device’s capabilities. Commercial airline pilots were exposed to two motion conventions, the ‘Big Stewart’ (6 degrees of freedom limited motion cueing) and the ‘Gx Centrifuge’ (1 degree of freedom using the planetary axis) that demonstrated the Kraken was ready to study human perception on complex motions. This includes the applied work of man in the loop pilot spatial disorientation. Check out NASA Langley Research Center’s “Life in the Lab” Production here:

    According to Etgen, the ‘Big Stewart’ generated flight cues as accurately as possible and the ‘Gx Centrifuge’ replicated flight take off and sustained acceleration sensations.

    As a result, all of the commercial pilots’ self-reported motion sickness scores were below 1 on a 10-point scale for all scenarios.

    “The Disorientation Research Device is a very important tool in future spatial disorientation work,” said Dr. Henry Williams, Senior Research Psychologist at NAMRU-Dayton.

    Further applications of the newly developed flight motion washout solutions are being applied to Dr. Williams’ work looking at control reversal errors in experienced pilots. A control reversal error occurs when a pilot moves the stick in the direction opposite to that required for a wings-level recovery, as may happen during transition from visual flying conditions to instrument flying.

    The establishment of an applied research program centered on the Kraken addressing pilot spatial disorientation aids researchers working towards solutions to protect and enhance the health, readiness and performance of aircrew.



    Date Taken: 07.03.2019
    Date Posted: 07.03.2019 09:23
    Story ID: 330205

    Web Views: 512
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