With 4D tech, Raytheon brings situational awareness to cockpit

Raytheon's four-dimensional walk-in flight simulator promises to use a pilot's sense of sound and touch -- not just sight.

Raytheon is showing off a four-dimensional walk-in flight simulator to attendees of the Paris Air Show in France this week.

The machine -- whose name doesn't refer to four actual dimensions, but is instead a reference to the system's employment of a user's sense of sight, sound and touch -- is intended to bring what is called "situational awareness" technology to the next level, for use in the cockpits of fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

The point is to bring a fuller sensory experience into the cockpit. If you've ever glanced into a modern cockpit, you'll know how daunting all the buttons can be; systems such as these intend to augment a sprawling visual experience with sound and touch, to better leverage a human's natural combined sensory system.

It's a delicate process: do it right, and you reduce the amount of visual scanning necessary to get a new pilot up to speed; do it wrong and you'll easily achieve sensory overload -- not a good idea when that person is controlling an 18,000-lb. piece of metal hurtling through the atmosphere at 1,500 miles per hour.

(What's it like, you ask? Our CNET colleague Dan Terdiman offers his first impressions from the show floor.)

Here's a look in a video:

The tech can be added to older aircraft with no impact on the operational flight program or mission computer, the company says.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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