Cobham announces it has recently been awarded a contract by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) Program, to develop an autonomous pilot life support system.
The resulting system is expected to be the world’s first sensor driven breathing regulator to automatically adjust oxygen dosed to the pilot based on changing physiological need and dynamic aircraft conditions.
Cobham’s SmartFLO electronic breathing regulator will autocorrect flow to proactively pre-empt the onset of hypoxia-like symptoms if unexpected changes in cabin pressure or excessive expired carbon dioxide levels in the pilot’s breathing are detected to better protect the pilot. Delivery of the regulator is anticipated in 2019.
“Cobham’s VigilOX breathing sensors are currently being flight tested to monitor and collect data on pilot physiology through expired oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to better understand human-aircraft interactions regarding unexplained physiological events. While data analysis is on-going, we are now moving forward in developing a ‘predict and protect’ capability that will use real-time sensor data to cause the SmartFLO regulator to auto-adjust flow based on cabin pressure and physiological cues. The result essentially customizes oxygen dose to enhance pilot safety and performance,” said Rob Schaeffer, Product Director, Environmental Systems at Cobham Mission Systems.
Cobham will expand its VigilOX sensor system physiological data profile under a joint FCT program with Elbit Systems, by integrating additional inputs from Elbit Systems’ Canary, a real-time pilot health monitoring system, to capture hemo-dynamic pilot data. The combined data will paint a more complete picture of what is happening to the pilot during extreme flight conditions. Cobham will develop an algorithm to drive the regulator to increase or decrease oxygen dose based on sensor inputs.
“This self-regulating capability is a paradigm shift that extends beyond monitoring and requiring the pilot to take manual corrective action in that it will automatically respond to protect the pilot, which provides a layer of vigilance that has not existed before,” said Schaeffer.
The advanced SmartFLO electronic regulator is a smart component within Cobham’s ARGOS, Auto Response Guided Oxygen System, that will have the ability to control the entire pilot oxygen system from air source to mask. Towards that effort, Cobham is developing other advanced smart components, including an automatic back-up oxygen system that will automatically supply emergency oxygen as needed, and an oxygen concentrator that will respond to sensor inputs.
All of these advanced components will be tied together with a system level algorithm in ARGOS to provide the most comprehensive level of protective vigilance around the pilot. Cobham is designing oxygen equipment today that has the inherent ability to communicate, synch with, and connect with our sensing technologies as they evolve. All future developments of Cobham oxygen components will be ARGOS compatible.
As the world’s leading supplier of critical control solutions, we help our customers to increase the safety and mission capabilities of their personnel and equipment in extreme environments. Cobham offers an innovative range of technologies and services to solve challenging problems in commercial, defence and security markets, from deep space to the depths of the ocean.
Elbit Systems Ltd. is an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs throughout the world. The Company focuses on upgrading of existing platforms, developing new technologies for defense, homeland security and commercial applications and providing a range of support services, including training and simulation systems.