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London Air Traffic Control AR

London City Airport Integrating AR for Air Traffic Control

A 50-metre control tower fitted with HD cameras is being built.

With the implementation of augmented reality (AR) in both the entertainment and enterprise sectors ever increasing, companies are finding the technology can be applied for all manner of use cases. One of the latest is in air traffic control, with London City Airport in the process of building a 50-metre tower packed with HD cameras to monitor the airport while they work at a separate location.

Rather than the traditional onsite tower with controllers being able to look out across the airport, a new digital control room at Nats, the UK’s national air traffic control service, will feed video from 14 cameras at London City Airport 80 miles away, reports The Guardian.

London Air Traffic Control AR_1

AR comes into play as data that’s normally found on several other screens can then be overlaid at the flick of a switch, displaying flight and radar data. While at night – or in low visibility conditions – the runway can be graphically enhanced. The system can also detect non-authorised traffic, like a drone, zoom in on it and track it.

London City, chief operations officer, Alison FitzGerald, commented: “You appreciate the view, but it’s the augmented reality that’s the real game-changer: the aircraft call signs, the ability to detect anything in the airspace, to identify things that normally wouldn’t be clear, weather information, so we can make much better decisions. It’s providing more tools in front of them rather than having to look away.”

Developed by SAAB, a Swedish defence manufacturer, the remote video system uses three independent, fast fibre networks to transmit the data from the airport to the control building. Digital control towers are already in operation in Sweden, with two small airports in the country using it, and a third to be added later this year. The UK isn’t the only country that’s been trialing the technology, Ireland, the US and Australia have all got similar projects underway.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of AR, reporting back with the latest announcements.

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