Testbed for future cockpit concepts

The Advanced Cockpit Evaluation System is a NASA testbed for future cockpit concepts. It is a standard van turned into a personal computer-based mobile cockpit/command station.

In stand-alone mode, 8 cameras mounted on the ACES van (Virtual Eye) provide a real time 360-deg out the window view. These video signals are augmented with a 3D terrain model and synthetic objects and satellite imagery. In command mode, the video signals can come from any type of vehicle such as unmanned aerial, land or marine vehicles.

ACES vanField of viewVirtual eyeScout and stumper

Unmanned vehicles

The unmanned vehicles can be controlled from the back of the van where the blended outside view is displayed onto a five flat-panels arrangement or inside a Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD) system. Additional operator screens and controls in the back of the van allow operator to control the unmanned vehicles.

The ACES van was originally created during the X-38 program, but after the program the ACES project received funds to continue work on next-generation display concepts. Now the ACES van is involved in a number of stand-alone research and development projects but supports other projects as well:

  • The Desert RATS, investigating how man and machine can work together in the exploration of Moon and Mars. ACES technology and experience has been proven a great asset during the Meteor Crater Tests (2005 and 2006) in Arizona where ACES controlled the SCOUT Rover and its payloads.

  • The Sensor Fusion project, investigating how to make the FAA flight inspection missions easier, safer and cheaper using augmented reality and additional sensors.