During a real life complex mission, every second counts. A pilot has to take split-second decisions on aircraft handling, approaching threats, deployment of his own counter-measures and a bunch of information coming in from sensors, radars and data feeds from other aircraft. The decisive difference is made by man-machine interface. A Gripen E pilot is provided with suggestions ranging from weapon selection to aircraft handling while getting an optimized overview of the battle space along with tactical information presented in a user-friendly manner. The pilot will see only what he needs and nothing else.
“A good human machine interface is hardly noticed by the user. The interaction between the pilot and the fighter comes naturally,” says Karinna Wandt, Technical Manager for HMI at Saab.
“The Human Machine Interface has evolved over the years. Today, a two year old, without any training, can easily interact with a tablet. With technology, we have access to a large amount of data, both user and system generated. By using machine learning techniques, we can cluster and analyse this data and turn it into valuable information.”
According to Karinna, the major challenge is to identify the exact information the user needs from the system and vice versa. “I am sure there are many missions that can be handled by an aircraft without any assistance of a pilot. But we shouldn’t underestimate the power of a human mind. A computer is fantastic to calculate and to react and handle large data. A human mind on the other hand, has the ability to act based on even a small amount of data and to see the meanings of context and use instincts,” she says.
It is, therefore, very important to improve the quality of collaboration between machine and human. A great example of such innovation – where a human’s instinctive skills and a system’s data churning skills are used to achieve mission success – is the Gripen HMI. A Gripen has fighter intelligence to put a lot of information into uncomplicated, well thought through symbols. The pilot can then make a calculated decision by simply taking a glance at the display in his cockpit.