DS0707 - Interactions humain-machine, objets connectés, contenus numériques, données massives et connaissance

Study, design and experimental implementation of a tangible space for pilot-system interactions in the cockpit of the future – AIRTIUS

Submission summary

Cockpits of commercial airliners are made up of various instrument panels incorporating screen displays that present information relating to various aircraft systems as well as physical controls (knobs, switches, etc.) to interact with these systems. These cockpits are evolving towards aggregate systems, fewer and larger screens, and a progressive digitalization of pilot-system interfaces. New flight-deck designs are trending towards a rationalization of cockpits equipment by replacing them with touchscreens. The objective for manufacturers is to handle the increasing complexity of systems with greater flexibility and lower costs. For instance, with its one touchscreen-based display concept, Thales ODICIS allows information to be presented in new ways and dynamic configurations of the user interface adaptable to both civil and military aircraft.
After having widely explored and promoted touch interactions in this domain, we see their limits in critical contexts. Unlike physical controls, which take advantages of the sense of touch and proprioception, touch screens are not well suited for eyes-free interaction and are not reliable in dynamic environments subjected to vibrations and acceleration. For safety- critical systems, it is yet important to ensure the reliability both in normal and degraded operational situations (smoke inside the cockpit, turbulences, and high levels of stress or cognitive load). Moreover, compared to physical controls, touch interactions are not able to reinforce mutual awareness between pilots.
We assume that a mixed approach based on touch screens and physical objects will better take into account the sensory motor skills of pilots and allow for more effective collaboration; and thereby to overcome the disadvantages of touch interactions in safety-critical systems. The key scientific objective of the project is to develop and evaluate this hypothesis through the exploration of mixed interactive systems for the cockpit. We will focus on haptic, tangible and organic technologies. Haptic improves touch screens by providing tactile feedbacks (vibration, pressure, texture information) which stimulate the mechanoreceptors of the fingertip. Tangible interactions add a proprio-kinesthetic dimension and can increase mutual awareness. Finally, organic user interfaces, which shapes are dynamically chosen so as to better support the needs of the user interface, will bring an answer to an inherent constraint in the cockpit: avoiding the presence of loose objects.
The technical objective of the project is to design and implement mixed interactive systems for safety-critical contexts. It involves prototyping interactions for the cockpit that will meet the needs of performance, safety and flexibility. The project will rely on the implementation of a simulation and test cockpit platform based on touch screens, which will be extended with physical objects and interactions. This platform will allow us to collect both quantitative and qualitative data on implemented technologies as well as to define the relevant properties and dimensions in safety-critical contexts. The consortium will provide the means to evaluate and compare the impact of technological choices in terms of feasibility, safety and performance.
Expected scientific and technical results, a better understanding of mixed interactive systems in safety-critical contexts, will be valued in the industry. They aim to increase the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of such systems in the cockpit. The consortium is made up of aeronautical universities and innovative SMEs, together they provide the range of skills and knowledge required to define, develop and validate the results of the AIRTIUS project.

Project coordination

jean-luc VINOT (Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Ingenuity i/o Ingenuity i/o
Astrolab Astrolab
ENAC Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile

Help of the ANR 564,905 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2015 - 36 Months

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