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APL-NAV was originally designed in early 1997, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), for an aerial ocean photography project - SeaHawk (SH). It was intended to provide situational awareness for operators of an airborne gimbaled camera system, using GPS data from an Applanix POS/AV inertial navigation unit. SH-NAV soon grew to also provide flight planning and real-time tracking for the cameras. The flight geometries desired for the project (one example: high altitude hovering to within a few tens of yards with no visual references) exceeded the capabilities of available cockpit instruments. It was therfore necessary to add software support for virtual instruments for the pilots, driven by our inertial GPS.
SH-NAV Field Record
- Three years of field use
- Approximately 300 flight hours
- Two major field tests (Two weeks each)
- Numerous smaller tests
The RTV adaptation initially consisted of flight planning, navigation, and pilot display tools. A real-time coverage map was also soon included. This new adaptation was vital for proposed large area collects, because it allowed us to see in real time if we left any holes or gaps in our coverage from strip to strip. We could then fill the gaps almost immediately, rather than having to make additional flights after the data was processed on the ground. The LIDAR system (Optech ALTM 1210) shipped with a small hand-held controller, running simple DOS-based controller software. This was replaced with enhanced GUI functionality in RTV-NAV. A functional system was installed in an Army Dash-7, and used with success in multiple field tests.
RTV-NAV Field Record
- One year of field use
- Approximately 75 flight hours
- One major field test (135 square kilometers)
- Several smaller collects (5-50 square kilometers)
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