Fixed-based flight simulator (HeliLab)
Heli Lab is a fixed-based flight simulator that affords a large field of view (i.e., 105°x100°). It is equipped to measure explicit and implicit behavioral responses - respectively, control stick inputs as well as eye-tracking and physiological measures.
Thus, we are able to study the relationship between a pilot's actions and his cognitive workload during flight maneuvers. The core system is an open-source flight simulator (FlightGear, www.flightgear.org) that accepts control inputs that are processed by a designated aircraft model to compute the appropriate world position and orientation of a modelled aircraft. Subsequently, these values are used to render the corresponding display of the world scene as seen from the cockpit, via a computing cluster for 10 wide-screen monitors.
Our system is equipped to record implicit behavioral responses. A remote eyetracking system (2 stereo-heads, 60 Hz; Facelab, Seeing Machines, USA) monitors the pilot's line-of-sight in the world scene as well as gaze on the heads-down instrument panel. Physiological measurements of the pilot are also recorded in tandem using a 32-channel active electrode system (g.Tec Medical Engineering GmbH, Austria). This system can be used to monitor the pilot's galvanic skin response, heart-rate variability and electro-encephalographic (EEG) signals.
The simulator is equipped with an unactuated control system that features generic helicopter controls with a cyclic stick, a collective stick, and pedals. Furthermore, we use a Thrustmaster Warthog sidestick (Thrustmaster, USA) with precise sensors to perform our closed-loop control tasks.