Using artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and mixed reality (augmented reality) for the development and production of Gripen, and virtual reality for training purposes, are some of the ongoing technological implementations at Saab for Gripen. During the Gripen Seminar 2019, Lisa Åbom, Chief Technology Officer, Business Area, Aeronautics at Saab, gave a detailed presentation on how these latest technologies are implemented in the making of Gripen today.
According to Lisa, the basic function of AI is that it takes large amount of data which is then processed through an algorithm to get an answer. Saab uses AI during both design and production phase. AI is also suitable for image recognition and can provide tactical support to pilots to make right decisions. “For instance, we collected information from different sensors that we have in the aircraft, ran it through an algorithm, and were able to predict the fuel level in one of the tanks (without using a fuel sensor). This way, with the help of AI, we can use the information available about various things to deduce the information that we’re interested in,” Lisa says.
Additive manufacturing, popularly known as 3D printing today, is used to produce the most basic as well as the more complicated parts of Gripen. For example, 3D printing can be used to optimize the design to take away the weight from certain structure part or to make specific small changes. What is really cool about additives is that you can add functionalities to the material. For example, a structure may be combined with a load-bank part that has electrical or optical properties. “We’re already flying Gripen E with parts that are produced using additive manufacturing,” adds Lisa.
Mixed reality or augmented reality
Operators at Saab also use augmented reality to get a step by step production or operation instructions in goggles. These goggles are also helpful for “remote guidance” where operators can sometimes seek remote help from other operators whenever necessary.
Virtual reality can be used to enhance the training experience. When the pilots run a simulation during training, virtual reality helps to get a much more realistic training scenario.
“We are on an exciting journey for the future. There’s so much new technology, both in our area and also the outside world and it’s going to be important for us to keep an eye on them as well as to develop them with our customers, suppliers, and partners,” concludes Lisa.