NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-A1.03-8154 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 034851)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Automated On-Line Health Management and Data Analysis
PROPOSAL TITLE:Use Of Dynamic Distortion To Predict And Alleviate Loss Of Control

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Systems Technology Inc
13766 South Hawthorne Blvd
Hawthorne ,CA 90250 - 7083
(310) 679 - 2281

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
David H Klyde
13766 S Hawthirne Blvd
Hawthorne ,CA  90250 -7083
(310) 679 - 2281
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

Improvements to aviation safety will be made by the development and validation of means to alleviate, alert, and inhibit loss of control associated with unfavorable pilot-vehicle interactions. These unfavorable interactions are caused in part by deficiencies, called ?dynamic distortion,? in the manual flight control system. Many sources of dynamic distortion such as friction, preload, and backlash have been reduced or eliminated in modern aircraft by improved hydraulic systems and by the replacement of mechanical linkages with fly-by-wire systems. Other sources of dynamic distortion remain, such as rate and position limits, power reductions, jammed effectors and mis-rigging. In older systems with mechanical linkages the pilot was at least aware that distortion was occurring, whereas in many modern, powered systems these cues are missing. An innovative concept is proposed whereby the pilot is provided with manipulator tactile cues when dynamic distortion occurs. These cues are hypothesized to improve aircraft safety by reducing the likelihood of unfavorable pilot-vehicle interactions. This improvement will be demonstrated in Phase I, first by modeling and simulation and then by conducting a PC-based manned simulator experiment. In Phase II the concept will be further developed and then validated with a flight test experiment.

Improved aviation safety is a major objective of NASA. This work will contribute towards this goal in two ways. First, improvements to modern manual flight control systems will be developed that will significantly reduce the likelihood of unfavorable pilot-vehicle interactions. These improvements will be available to NASA for their fleet of aircraft and for new NASA vehicles entering flight test. Second, this work will validate an important but largely unrecognized cause of decreased flight safety ? the lack of pilot cues that tell the pilot when the flight control system is acting in a deficient manner.

The same improvements to modern manual flight control systems will be available for commercial and military flight control systems. The continuing record of unfavorable pilot-vehicle coupling provides evidence of the need for improvements such as this. Licensing agreements are a potential way to commercialize these developments. The concept of dynamic distortion applies to any powered manual control system, including ground vehicle manual control systems. Power steering is a mature application, which works in part because direct links provide dynamic distortion cues, but new concepts in ground vehicle control are being developed that can benefit from this work.