Degraded visual environment mitigation (DVE-M) program, bumper radar obstacle cueing flight trials 2020

Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

77th Annual Vertical Flight Society Forum and Technology Display, FORUM 2021: The Future of Vertical Flight




The goal of the U.S. Army's Degraded Visual Environment Mitigation (DVE-M) Program was to develop technologies that enable Army rotorcraft to operate in low-visibility conditions. Technologies included low and high-resolution terrain sensors, sensor fusion, pilot cueing, and advanced flight controls. This paper focuses on just one important aspect of the DVE-M system, the ability to sense and cue pilots of obstacles in the vicinity of the rotorcraft. This capability will provide pilots the situational awareness needed to navigate complex environments so that missions can be completed safely and successfully. Though visual displays are useful for conveying multiple viewpoints, an egocentric display is limited to obstacles within the field of view and an exocentric display requires a reference frame transformation relative to the observer. Spatial-auditory displays support an egocentric 360° immersive 3D space in which auditory cues can be placed in direction and distance, and rendered such that realistic motion cues in gain and/or frequency (Doppler) are provided. Though limited in spatial resolution, tactile displays can provide a needed alternative when the visual and auditory channels are overwhelmed or fixated. Leveraging the beneficial aspects of all three, a trimodal obstacle awareness and avoidance display was developed for the DVE-M Program. The display, in concert with a 360° azimuth, 24° elevation bumper radar, was flight tested in the Fort Eustis area by five experimental test pilots. A series of test points were developed that exercised the display for various obstacle types and phases of flight. Upon completion, each pilot was administered usability and workload questionnaires and participated in a cueing debrief session. This paper describes the display design and test points and reports the results of the pilot evaluations.


Biological Sciences; Research Foundation