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Capitol Hill Modeling & Sim Gives Glimpse of Future

Capitol Hill Modeling & Sim Gives Glimpse of Future

Modeling & Simulation Showcase on Capitol Hill Gives Glimpse of Future in Air Travel and More

Aptima demonstrates how Agents will blend roles of Humans and Automation in NextGen – FAA’s New National Airspace System

Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, July 26, 2010 – Amidst the whispers of politicians conferring over legislation, each summer the latest modeling and simulation technologies can be found on display in the foyer of the Rayburn Building. Why here, in the home of the U.S. House of Representatives? Computer generated environments have become so effective in saving time, money, and lives that Congressman J. Randy Forbes (4th District, VA) created the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus to draw support for this burgeoning field.

Modeling and simulation, commonly known for training fighter pilots for combat and preparing emergency workers for disasters, also refers to the synthetic environments where the mostly costly and complex weapons and aerospace systems can be tested, refined, and evaluated onscreen before millions or billions of dollars are spent, and lives are put at risk in deploying them to the field.

At the 5th Annual Modeling and Simulation (M&S) Exhibition held June 30 on Capitol Hill, Aptima, the R&D company that solves challenging military and defense problems, demonstrated AFAR – a project that focuses on how human and machine systems will work together in NextGen, the FAA’s wide-ranging transformation of the National Airspace System. One of the most substantive programs taking place in the U.S., NextGen is replacing the current outdated systems and technology of air traffic control, which threatens to gridlock the nation’s skies and the airports in the not too distant future. Using intelligent advances in air traffic management, NextGen ultimately will allow two to three times as many aircraft to fly more closely together, more safely, and on more direct routes.

AFAR: Airportal Function Allocation Reasoning

While NextGen’s GPS-like technologies will allow pilots to know exactly where their aircraft is in relation to others, that automation along with new airport infrastructure and procedures will shift decision-making responsibilities between the ground and the cockpit, and between humans and these new technical systems. The transformation to NextGen presents the challenge of how to allocate workload and tasks between human operators and machine systems in a distributed air traffic environment which requires seamless communications and coordination.

Developed under contract to NASA, AFAR is developing intelligent software agents to leverage computational algorithms in order to mediate or blend the interactions and workflow between humans and automated systems based on their current workload, task complexity, and who’s best suited to perform what’s required. In the continually changing airspace environment, how humans and advanced technical systems co-exist, perform tasks, and shuttle responsibilities back and forth requires the dynamic ’reasoning’ capability of intelligent software agents.

AFAR is being tested and refined in Aptima’s DDD® [Archived Link No Longer Available] simulator, which brings the human operators and agents together in a low fidelity airport and air traffic environment.

Congressman Forbes, who founded the Modeling & Simulation Caucus in 2005, co-chairing it with Congressman Solomon Ortiz, stated, “Now more than ever, as we are facing increased budget strains and ever-slowing government response times to national crises, modeling and simulation is the way of the future. By coupling creativity with state of the art technology, modeling and simulation allows individuals to process thousands of scenarios and ideas in a short amount of time, allowing decisions to be made quickly and with greater accuracy than ever before.“ (Quote courtesy forbes.house.gov/news)

Sponsored by the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA) with the support of Congressman Forbes and the Modeling and Simulation Caucus, the Capitol Hill M&S Exhibition provides companies with a chance to engage U.S. congressmen/women and their staff, by demonstrating the latest in simulation and training technologies.