OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Integrated Sensing and Cyber
OBJECTIVE: To develop an integrated suite of Augmented Reality (AR) technology to address Corrosion Control
DESCRIPTION: Aircraft maintenance maintainers have identified an opportunity to increase efficiency, lower cost, and increase safety of Corrosion Control professionals by enhancing existing corrosion control detection and measurement systems with wearable Commercial-Off-the-Shelf Augmented Reality technology to provide data as a visual overlay within the user’s field of view, tag measurement data in Three Dimensional Space to specific aircraft, save data for future use and users, and export data and live video to additional users and digital twins. Aircraft maintainers envision enhancement of two systems: one which measures the thickness of paint on a metal or composite substrate and one which serves as an Eddy Current Non-destructive Testing system.
Corrosion Control professionals use a variety of systems (e.g., Eddy Current, Ultrasound, X-ray) to detect problems, but these systems do not share a common interface, cannot save results associated to a particular aircraft, and can be unwieldy to handle while scanning and recording results manually. Most systems cannot export data; they only show video on other monitors. There is limited ability for remote experts to support maintainers without traveling to site.
Aircraft maintainers estimate an AR-integrated Paint Scanning system would increase aircraft maintenance production efficiency by 15-25% and throughput of additional aircraft per year per system to a similar degree, directly improving readiness of aircraft fleet. The NDI Eddy Current integrated system is estimated to deliver 15-25% increase in efficiency, 10% or more improvement in detection accuracy, 10% or more improvement in end user safety, and cost savings.
Aircraft maintainers’ grand vision for such an integration approach is to arm the maintainer, supervisors, and quality personnel with a suite of AR-enabled corrosion control detection and measurement systems, each with data associated to the aircraft tail number and available at all times for review through the AR headset, enabling an unparalleled capability to toggle through data to fully understand the current and historical corrosion profile of the individual aircraft as well as inform larger analyses of recurring issues and corrosion trends across the fleet.
PHASE I: FEASABILITY DOCUMENTATION. For this Direct-to-Phase II topic, evaluators are expecting that the submittal firm demonstrate the ability to have proven feasibility of importing data (not just video) from multiple detection systems into an AR platform, present data, and store data.
PHASE II: Contractor will integrate a minimum of three Corrosion Control systems with a single AR platform, tag scan data in 3D space to a particular tail number, enable features by user type (maintainer, supervisor, etc.), and toggle through results without rebooting or reorienting the system. User interface will be simple and intuitive. Applications will share a common look and feel. Data will be exported to a digital twin on a phone, tablet, and/or PC. Live data from the AR system can be shared with other users. AR platform displays data for entire aircraft, not individual parts.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Contractor will operationalize the Phase II prototype, obtaining Authority to Operate, developing an API or Plug-in to allow additional Corrosion Control system integrations, productizing AR and enabling components into a kit and obtaining National Stock Number(s), and offering sustainment options. Contractor will integrate additional Corrosion Control systems. AR platform can show scans for individual parts.
- AFRL-RX-WP-TR-2008-4373 RECOMMENDED PROCESSES AND BEST PRACTICES FOR NONDESTRUCTIVE INSPECTION (NDI) OF SAFETY-OF-FLIGHT STRUCTURES, John Brausch, Lawrence Butkus, David Campbell, Tommy Mullis, and Michael Paulk;
- Ladwig P., Geiger C. (2019) A Literature Review on Collaboration in Mixed Reality. In: Auer M., Langmann R. (eds) Smart Industry & Smart Education. REV 2018. Lecture Notes in Networks and Systems, vol 47. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-95678-7_65;
- Brown, L.J.: Professional reflection – mixed reality to augment the next generation of aviation professionals. In: Kearns, S.K., Mavin, T.J., Hodge, S. (eds.) Engaging the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals, pp. 163–180. Routledge, New York, NY (2020);
KEYWORDS: Augmented Reality; Non-destructive Inspection; Corrosion Control