VR HubSim

Virtual reality helicopter simulator with active control loading components

The DLR Institute of Flight Guidance has developed and operates several cockpit simulators for the purposes of demonstrating and evaluating new flight control technologies. This includes, for example, a virtual reality helicopter simulator, a fixed-base cockpit simulator where the cockpit and surrounding environment is displayed via head-worn virtual reality glasses. This allows researchers to simulate different existing helicopter types, as well as display and test their own newly developed flight deck layouts.

Just like a conventional helicopter, the simulator is flown using three control elements: cyclic stick, collective and pedals. These are active control components. Integrated motors generate precise force feedback to give the pilot a realistic impression of the controls. The flight simulation itself is powered either by the commercial simulation software X-Plane 10 or by DLR’s own helicopter flight model including novel flight control systems.

The use of virtual reality technology brings numerous advantages. On the one hand, the VR glasses provide a very wide feld of view, and on the other, the tracking of head movements provides the ability to freely look around the virtual environment. This gives the test subjects a very realistic impression of their surroundings. A virtual cockpit environment gives researchers a high amount of freedom for designing human machine interfaces. Flexible test environments like this are particularly important during the early development phases for comparing different confgurations in a shorter time and as realistically as possible.

The research primarily involves real-time simulations using human subjects for evaluating new display and operating concepts. In collaboration with pilots, novel operational methods and procedures that may be useful with the future use of new technologies are also being developed and investigated.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Helge Lenz · E-Mail: helge.lenz@dlr.de · DLR.de/en