You are here

Augmented Reality and Aircraft Wiring


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform, Materials, Electronics, 

OBJECTIVE: Design and develop the enabling technology to allow universal tagging/marking and database architecture for aircraft wiring identification, visualization, and comparison via a hardware agnostic Augmented Reality (AR) solution. 

DESCRIPTION: Ongoing NAVAIR efforts, from production installations to DEPOT maintenance events, require the inspection of thousands of wires, harnesses, connectors, etc. The continually expedited timelines required for these events, paired with the limited human capacity to quickly locate, identify, and correlate those wires to as-is or desired state, has the potential to negatively impact timelines, quality, safety, and readiness. Current AR systems, including Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass, and other handheld applications, utilize marker-based or markerless location-based approaches to determine a subject field of view (FOV), query a database for relevant digital information related to that marker or location, and overlay the digital information within a user's field of view. While current methods are effective for some broad commercial applications, they do not possess the necessary fidelity and/or robustness for effective use on aircraft installed wiring systems. Current marker-based approaches have not been validated to meet MIL-W-5088 [Ref 4] and MIL-M-81531 [Ref 5]; markerless location-based FOV solutions lack the visual acuity within confined and complex aircraft spaces. Specific challenges include: variations in harness depth when multiple harness are stacked together within particular aircraft location; camera fidelity and software recognition of individual wires strung through an exposed bundle; and longevity/legibility of potential marker application due to dirt, aircraft fluid, and other debris present during normal military aircraft operation. The goal is to develop a solution that can perform with one or both of the identified methods for FOV identification and overlay, or develop a currently unknown and more appropriate solution. For a marker-based solution, [Ref 4] and [Ref 5] would be met in a manner facilitating marker utilization with no additional manpower requirements from maintainers to find and clean all appropriate markers. For a location-based solution, the proposer should use relative position in the aircraft for FOV identification and overlay. Both of these FOV solutions would need to be paired with a visual hardware and software system sensitive enough to identify proper vs. improper harness routing (based on a 3D model) per [Ref 3] as well as wire type identification for exposed bundles per [Ref 3]. The Navy seeks a solution to quickly identify non-conformances in harness routing for maintainers from production teams, organizational maintenance personnel, and DEPOT artisans and that is hardware agnostic. Additionally, this will improve the execution of engineering change proposals, aircraft-capability upgrade modifications, and major DEPOT Planned Maintenance Intervals (PMI) or Integrated Maintenance Planning (IMP) events like providing immediate updates to aircraft databases to reflect changes. This would allow the AR platform to immediately highlight non-conformances or discrepancies in harness routing, material selection, and issues often missed by human quality assurance personnel. Marking technologies should conform to wire/cable markings requirements outlined in NEMA WC27500 Aerospace and Industrial Cable [Ref 1], SAE AS22759 Aerospace Wiring [Ref 2], and SAE AS5942 Marking of Electrical Insulating Materials [Ref 4]. This would be ideally suited for new acquisition platforms and support equipment as well as any platforms or support equipment preparing to undergo major modifications. 

PHASE I: Design, develop, and determine the feasibility of a proposed marking/location-based approach as well as database integration opportunities. Ensure that the marking technologies conform to wire/cable markings requirements [Refs 1, 2, 4]. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II. 

PHASE II: Further develop a prototype and demonstrate its application on uninstalled aircraft wiring harnesses within aircraft representative spaces. If available, demonstrate the capability on existing platform and/or platform representative examples, leveraging actual 3D design models and installed harnesses. 

PHASE III: Perform final development and testing for any marking applicability to include conformance testing to applicable SAE/MIL-STDs. Support final system application testing onboard aircraft with full system test, in coordination with NAVAIR Test and Evaluation. With the proliferation of AR, digital visual acuity systems, point cloud generation, and artificial intelligence-/machine learning/deep learning-backed virtual visual overlays, the commercial potential for this technology spans any production or modification industry requiring the ability to mark and reference small components vs. individual markers/locations. These industries include the aircraft, automobile, vessel, solar, battery, microprocessor, industrial bulk material, and computer. 


1. “NEMA WC 27500 - Aerospace and Industrial Electrical Cable.”

KEYWORDS: Aircraft; Wiring; Wire; Marking; Augmented Reality; Visualization 

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government