WO2014111842A1 - Method to control a space including a plurality of mobile or not mobile stations - Google Patents

Method to control a space including a plurality of mobile or not mobile stations

Info

Publication number
WO2014111842A1
WO2014111842A1 PCT/IB2014/058236 IB2014058236W WO2014111842A1 WO 2014111842 A1 WO2014111842 A1 WO 2014111842A1 IB 2014058236 W IB2014058236 W IB 2014058236W WO 2014111842 A1 WO2014111842 A1 WO 2014111842A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
station
control
space
stations
centre
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IB2014/058236
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Gaetano Rizzi
Original Assignee
Ti-Swiss Sa
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S7/00Details of systems according to groups G01S13/00, G01S15/00, G01S17/00
    • G01S7/003Transmission of data between radar, sonar or lidar systems and remote stations
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S13/00Systems using the reflection or reradiation of radio waves, e.g. radar systems; Analogous systems using reflection or reradiation of waves whose nature or wavelength is irrelevant or unspecified
    • G01S13/87Combinations of radar systems, e.g. primary radar and secondary radar
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S13/00Systems using the reflection or reradiation of radio waves, e.g. radar systems; Analogous systems using reflection or reradiation of waves whose nature or wavelength is irrelevant or unspecified
    • G01S13/88Radar or analogous systems specially adapted for specific applications
    • G01S13/93Radar or analogous systems specially adapted for specific applications for anti-collision purposes
    • G01S13/9303Radar or analogous systems specially adapted for specific applications for anti-collision purposes between aircraft or spacecraft in flight, e.g. secant
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S13/00Systems using the reflection or reradiation of radio waves, e.g. radar systems; Analogous systems using reflection or reradiation of waves whose nature or wavelength is irrelevant or unspecified
    • G01S13/88Radar or analogous systems specially adapted for specific applications
    • G01S13/93Radar or analogous systems specially adapted for specific applications for anti-collision purposes
    • G01S13/9307Radar or analogous systems specially adapted for specific applications for anti-collision purposes between marine crafts; between marine crafts and fixed obstacles
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08GTRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS
    • G08G5/00Traffic control systems for aircraft, e.g. air-traffic control [ATC]
    • G08G5/0004Transmission of traffic-related information to or from an aircraft
    • G08G5/0013Transmission of traffic-related information to or from an aircraft with a ground station
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08GTRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS
    • G08G5/00Traffic control systems for aircraft, e.g. air-traffic control [ATC]
    • G08G5/0073Surveillance aids
    • G08G5/0091Surveillance aids for monitoring atmospheric conditions
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S13/00Systems using the reflection or reradiation of radio waves, e.g. radar systems; Analogous systems using reflection or reradiation of waves whose nature or wavelength is irrelevant or unspecified
    • G01S13/88Radar or analogous systems specially adapted for specific applications
    • G01S13/95Radar or analogous systems specially adapted for specific applications for meteorological use
    • G01S13/953Radar or analogous systems specially adapted for specific applications for meteorological use mounted on aircraft
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08GTRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS
    • G08G5/00Traffic control systems for aircraft, e.g. air-traffic control [ATC]
    • G08G5/0017Arrangements for implementing traffic-related aircraft activities, e.g. arrangements for generating, displaying, acquiring or managing traffic information
    • G08G5/0021Arrangements for implementing traffic-related aircraft activities, e.g. arrangements for generating, displaying, acquiring or managing traffic information located in the aircraft
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02ATECHNOLOGIES FOR ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02A90/00Technologies having an indirect contribution to adaptation to climate change
    • Y02A90/10Information and communication technologies [ICT] supporting adaptation to climate change.
    • Y02A90/12Specially adapted for meteorology, e.g. weather forecasting, climate modelling
    • Y02A90/17Weather surveillance systems using the reflection or reradiation of electromagnetic waves
    • Y02A90/18Radar-based

Abstract

The invention describes a method and a system for controlling a space (1). The method comprises the steps of: performing measurements (m2, m22) of at least one physical parameter in a plurality of stations (2, 22) which are installed or mobile in said space; transmitting the measurements (m2, m22) to a control centre (3) interconnected to the stations (2, 22), each measurement (m2, m22) being associated with a position (S2, S22) of the station (2, 22) which performed the measurement (m2, m22); calculating, in the control centre (3), virtual measurements (v2, v22) of the physical parameter, associated with respective positions (S2, S22) of the stations (2, 22) in the space, the virtual measurement (v2) of each station (2) being calculated by means of the measurements (m22) of the physical parameters received from the other stations (22) in the space; transmitting the virtual measurement (v2, v22) to each station (2, 22) in the respective position (S2, S22).

Description

Title: Method to control a space including a plurality of mobile or not mobile stations

DESCRIPTION

Field of application

The present invention relates to a method to control a space including a plurality of stations, and in particular stations which are mobile and/or not mobile in the space. The stations are for example aircraft which occupy an air space or vessels which occupy a navigation space.

Even more particularly, the control method comprises a step of detecting one or more characteristics of the space, for example the distance between two or more stations, and a step of displaying said characteristics, for example in an anti-collision system. The invention also relates to a method to control a space including a plurality of stations, and in particular stations which are mobile and/or not mobile in the space.

Prior art

Methods for controlling a space including a plurality of stations, for example methods for controlling an air space including aircraft, such as airliners, or for controlling a navigation space including vessels, such as cruiser or cargo ships, are known. Also known are methods for controlling road traffic, which are generally associated with a navigation instrument on-board a wheeled vehicle.

These control methods comprise recordings of physical parameters on-board a station which occupies the space, for example a radar recording performed on-board the aircraft in an air space or the vessel at sea. Once the recordings have been performed, the recordings may be viewed by means of a graphical display, for example a radar screen installed in the station, thus allowing a pilot or captain to manage the station.

The known control methods are, however, available only on-board more sophisticated stations where costly equipment, such as a radar, is installed. In fact, radar equipment may not be available on an aircraft or on a small boat used for leisure purposes in view of its considerable cost; however, the absence of this equipment means that it is not possible to have access to useful information for transit in the space. Moreover, even in the case where the aforementioned equipment is installed on-board a station, it may suffer damage or be subject to unforeseen malfunctions, creating in some cases major problems and putting the passengers' safety at risk. For example, in the case of irreparable damage to a radar on-board an airline, when in flight, the pilot would be unable to detect the distance from other aircraft, from atmospheric formations or from the ground.

A further limitation of the known methods is the impossibility of obtaining and displaying certain characteristics of the space which cannot be directly detected by the station. For example, a turbulence level in a given area of the space which has not yet been passed through by the aircraft cannot be recorded and shown and consequently it is not possible, according to the known methods, to avoid the area in which the turbulence will be encountered, with serious inconvenience for the passengers and extra fuel consumption.

A number of weather radar systems are able to differentiate between a return signal from the ground and a return signal from cumuliform cloud formations and identify the cumuliform formations on the basis of the return signals. However, these systems are effective only for identifying the cloud formations up to a predetermined distance of not more than 60-80 nautical miles.

A control method able to detect the turbulence and program an air route, avoiding areas affected by turbulence, would result in significant fuel savings and a more pleasant journey.

Other characteristics which cannot be recorded are, for example, the distance from other aircraft or from atmospheric formations in the space behind the aircraft, since the radar has a coverage limited to the zone situated substantially in front of the cockpit. The technical problem forming the basis of the present invention is to devise a method for controlling a space, which is available also in stations without sophisticated equipment and preferably also in stations provided with said equipment, in order to resolve malfunctions of the on-board equipment, but also predict certain spatial characteristics which cannot be recorded, in order to improve a route or a travel path of the mobile station, with gains in terms of time and fuel savings, as well as greater travel comfort, thereby overcoming the limitations and drawbacks which are hitherto associated with the known control methods.

Summary of the invention The idea forming the basis of the present invention is to establish a communication network between a plurality of stations which are mobile and/or not mobile and which occupy different areas in the space, each station being provided with its own means for recording the characteristics of the space within recording range, and communicate the characteristics recorded to a control centre, the latter being able to calculate the characteristics of the space around a station on the basis of the characteristics of the space recorded by the other stations in the space, and communicate the characteristics calculated to the station. In other words, the characteristics calculated and sent to the station are characteristics which are virtual or estimated on the basis of the information recorded by the other stations. Advantageously, also a station without equipment for performing recordings may benefit from the recordings performed by other stations provided with such equipment and receive a reprocessed version of the information representing the characteristics of the space concerned.

In particular, the characteristics calculated are displayed on an interface or on virtual equipment of the station. For example, a plurality of radar recordings are made by a plurality of stations which occupy the space in different positions, and the control centre receives the recordings and calculates a virtual radar recording to be transmitted to a station without radar or to station with a damaged radar. The virtual radar recording is also transmitted in other circumstances, when requested by a station or automatically sent to it, for example when the station requests greater clarity on a large scale regarding use of the radar, in the space; advantageously, both the areas close to the station, and the areas far from it and not detectable directly by the station, may have a high graphical resolution or the same resolution.

According to an aspect of the invention, the recordings carried out by each station are transmitted together with a spatial position of the station, its speed with respect to the ground, and its direction, and the control centre calculates the values to be transmitted to the station without a radar or with a damaged radar, on the basis of the position and the dynamic data of the latter and the stations which carried out the recording. The "dynamic data" includes the spatial position of the station, its speed with respect to the ground, or its direction or its condition or its inclination or the wind detected at a certain height or the temperature of the external air or the internal pressure of the aircraft, considering also the temporal variations of said position, speed, direction, etc., and in particular the variations occurring within the time interval between transmission or reception of the data from/to the station and reception or transmission of the data to/from the control centre. Obviously, according to the present invention, the above stated with reference to radar equipment, may be carried out using equipment of another type. Moreover, the characteristics calculated are preferably transmitted also to the stations with functioning equipment, such as the radar.

Advantageously, the characteristics calculated may be compared with the characteristics recorded or may be supplied instead of the characteristics recorded, for example in the case of damage or absence of the equipment, or supplement or complete the characteristics recorded. In particular, a virtual radar provided on the basis of the characteristics calculated by the control centre and transmitted to a station may show both the flying space in front of the aircraft, and the space at the rear, therefore overcoming the limitations of real radar equipment or hardware, also in view of the enormous difference in speed between the cloud masses and the aircraft.

The above comments made by way of example with reference to an aircraft are valid for other mobile stations, for example a vessel or a wheeled vehicle. Similarly, the above comments made with reference to radar equipment are valid for other equipment able to perform spatial recordings, for example via a GPS device. Moreover, according to an aspect of the present invention, the recordings are also carried out by one or more stations which are not mobile, such as an earth station or satellite station.

According to an aspect of the present invention, the spatial characteristics detected are for example the distance from the ground, from other stations, the turbulence level of the air, a position, a height, a temperature, and so on. The proposed solution forming the basis of the invention is that also of providing a device which is portable or incorporated in a station, for example in an aircraft, interconnected via a network, for example via an ACARS network, to a control centre. This connection is preferably performed via a VHF land network or via a satellite, which is in turn connected both to the control centre and to the stations in the space. The control centre carries out various operations for reprocessing of the data recorded by the stations and received from them and transmits the reprocessed data to other stations which are about to occupy the same air space.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the device providing a virtual graphical display is the same device possessing instrumentation for performing measurements, for example a speed, position, height or other recording. According to another aspect, the device does not perform directly the measurements, but is able to receive these measurements from the on-board instrumentation of the station and is able to transmit the measurements and receive the data reprocessed by the control centre, in order to display it on an interface, for example a graphical interface available to the pilot, when flying, for real-time reading of the flying conditions, such as the level of turbulence or a virtual radar.

It should be pointed out that the method according to the present invention may be implemented by means of iPad devices or similar portable devices which are able both to record the measurements in the mobile stations as well as transmit them and display them, using for this purpose the instruments with which the iPad is already equipped, such as sensors, television cameras or other hardware and/or software components. Also envisaged and included within the scope of protection of the invention are various levels of integration between the portable device, for example the iPad, and the on- board systems of the stations mobile and/or not mobile in the space, such as a Flight Management System (FMS) already equipped with sensors and hardware and/or software able to perform the aforementioned measurements and transmission and display operations, such as a GPS, the inertial platforms for the positions and wind calculation, the radars for detecting the clouds, etc. In other words, the instrumentation for performing recording, transmission, calculation and display may be incorporated in the station and/or portable device. The system solves a number of major technical problems. As regards the turbulence, for example, it allows a so-called objective "turbulence report" to be provided, i.e. a report calculated on the basis of the turbulence values recorded by other stations in a specific position and not based on a subjective sensation of another pilot who has been affected by turbulence in a nearby flying area. The reception of an objective turbulence level allows variation of a route or advanced programming of a preferred route, with significant fuel savings and greater flying comfort.

Advantageously, the turbulence information actually recorded by a station may be at least partly processed and converted into data which is smaller in size than the turbulence information, and only said data may be transmitted to the control centre, for more rapid and efficient communication.

The control centre, situated on earth or on a satellite, on the basis of the data received, calculates a turbulence value for the other stations which are situated in the same space (cell) affected by the turbulence detected by the transmitting station. This calculation is carried out depending on dynamic and static parameters of the stations intended to receive the turbulence value calculated, thus providing the pilots with certain information about the energy which is expected to affect their station when crossing the turbulent area (cell). The turbulence value may also be supplied to automatic systems for controlling remote- controlled or automatically piloted aircraft (known as "drones") which, based on a decisional algorithm stored in them, are able to bypass or pass through the turbulent area.

Advantageously, a turbulence value actually affecting a station may be stored in the control centre and/or on-board the station itself and transmitted automatically, during the flight, to a technical maintenance team responsible for the aircraft, so as to allow the organization, before landing, of the ordinary and extraordinary maintenance operations stipulated by the international technical regulations, with a considerable reduction in the downtime which represents a costly item in the aircraft or vessel management structure. Moreover, the reproduction of virtual instruments on the interface of the device offers a significant technical advantage in the case of faulty on-board instruments, namely when the pilot may in any case make use of the data recorded by other aircraft in the nearby flying space and suitably reprocessed and retransmitted by the control centre, or when a pilot of an aircraft without on-board instruments may take advantage of the virtual instruments, i.e. recordings calculated by the control centre.

Advantageously a virtual radar has very low costs compared to a real radar; moreover the virtual radar may cover both the space in front and the space behind the aircraft (about 360°), while a real radar covers only the space in front of the aircraft (180°). According to an aspect of the present invention, the graphical interface for showing the data calculated by the control centre is incorporated in a device already present on the market, for example in an iPad or tablet or other portable device; advantageously, the pilots of leisure aircraft may also use the portable device as radar. Obviously it is quite possible for the device to be incorporated in the aircraft cockpit. On the basis of the proposed solutions described above, the technical problem is solved by a method to control a space, characterized by:

- performing measurements of at least one physical parameter in a plurality of stations installed and/or mobile in the space;

- transmitting the measurements to a control centre interconnected to the stations, each measurement being associated with a position and the dynamic data of the station which performed the measurement;

- calculating, in the control centre, virtual measurements of the physical parameter, associated with respective positions and movements of the stations in the space, the virtual measurement of each station being calculated by means of the measurements of the physical parameters received from the other stations in the space;

- transmitting the virtual measurement to each station in the respective position.

Preferably the data recorded is at least partly processed before transmission in order to reduce the size of the data to be transmitted to the control centre. According to an aspect of the invention, the measurements are also associated with temporal information for recording the measurement and/or a speed and/or an altitude of the station which performed the measurement, and the calculation of the virtual measurement is performed considering also at least one item from among this temporal information and/or the speed and/or the altitude received from the other stations in the space.

The virtual measurement is displayed in a station by means of a display interface or virtual equipment, this interface being preferably displayed on on-board instrumentation of the station or an on-board portable device of the station connected to the control centre. In one embodiment, the portable device is preferably an iPad or a personal computer.

The control centre is for example an earth station or satellite station.

According to another aspect of the invention, the virtual measurements are also transmitted to a station - mobile or installed in the space - which has not sent any measurement to the control centre and/or which does not have on-board instrumentation.

In particular, the measurements comprise a radar recording performed by means of an on-board radar of a station. The stations consist, for example, of an aircraft or a vessel. The virtual measurements are displayed on the display interface as a virtual radar and the virtual radar shows both the flying area situated in front of the aircraft or the navigation area in front of the vessel, and the flying area situated behind it. In particular the virtual radar has a range or sweep greater than the range of an on-board radar and preferably covers the entire space in which the stations are situated. In a preferred embodiment, the range covers the entire space. In a preferred embodiment, the radar recording is performed further and transmitted to the control centre by a satellite station earth-based or orbiting around another spatial body.

According to an aspect of the present invention, the measurement comprises recording of a turbulence level. Means for programming a route depending on the turbulence values and/or other characteristics of the flying space which may affect fuel consumption and/or the travel comfort are provided in order to reduce the fuel consumption and/or improve the travel comfort. The physical parameter is recorded by means of on-board instrumentation comprising one or more accelerometers and a gyroscope, preferably of the laser type, and/or a GPS for detecting a height, speed and direction of said station.

In particular, the physical parameter comprises a distance between stations in the space and the interface displays a virtual anti-collision system or virtual TCAS (Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System). The control centre and the stations are interconnected preferably by means of an ACARS or Immarsat network or any other network available and able to transfer, in a suitable manner, the information to the control centre.

According to the control method of the present invention, the measurements performed by the stations comprise recordings of digital images to be transmitted to the control centre. These digital images are recorded by means of sensors incorporated in the station or otherwise installed on-board the station.

In a particularly advantageous embodiment of the present invention, one or more webcams and/or digital cameras are installed in the cockpit and record films and/or digital images of the instrumentation which is incorporated or on-board the station. This instrumentation, during operation, shows in graphic form, for example by means of needles and/or pointers and/or numerical values and associated reference scales, the measurements recorded. The digital images recorded by the webcam and/or the digital camera therefore represent values of the recordings performed by the instrumentation. In particular, the images photographed by the camera at the time t represent instantaneous values recorded by a plurality of instruments at the time t.

The control centre, which receives the digital images or the films of the instruments, performs interpretation thereof preferably by means of an automatic recognition system installed in the control centre, comprising a module for graphical identification of the instruments and the values shown by them, for example by means of recognition of the position of the needles and/or pointers and/or numbers and the associated reference scale in the digital images and processes the images identified with the position, direction, speed and height data of the transmitting station at the time t, in order to calculate the virtual measurements to be transmitted back to the stations in the space. The technical problem is also solved by a system for controlling a space, characterized in that it comprises means for measuring at least one physical parameter on-board a station installed or mobile in the space, means for transmitting the measurement to a control centre interconnected to the stations, each measurement being associated with a position of the station which performed the measurement; means for receiving virtual measurements of the physical parameter, associated with respective positions of the stations in the space, said virtual measurements being calculated by means of measurements of the physical parameters received from other stations in the space.

Further characteristic features and advantages of the method and the instrumentation according to the present invention will become clear from the following description provided below, with reference to the accompanying drawings provided purely by way of a ηόη-limiting example.

Brief description of the drawings

Figure 1 shows in schematic form stations which use the method for controlling a space, according to the present invention. Figure 2 shows two stations which use the method for controlling a space in order to transmit information relating to a cumulonimbus cloud, recorded at a time tl.

Figure 3 shows the stations according to Figure 2 which use the method for controlling a space for transmitting information relating to the cumulonimbus cloud at the time t2.

Figure 4 shows a station which uses the method for controlling a space in order to receive information relating to the cumulonimbus cloud identified by the stations according to Figures 2 and 3.

Detailed description

With reference to- Figure 1 , this shows in schematic form a space 1 occupied by stations 2, 22, 222 which are mobile and/or not mobile, for example an air space occupied by a plurality of aircraft which move in the space in different directions, at a different height and speed, and/or occupied by vessels moving on the sea along different navigation routes. In other words, the space in question is a three-dimensional space comprising a plurality of stations which move within it or which are not mobile or are locked in relation to an associated reference system. It is clear, therefore, that the stations comprise vehicles in general, of the wheeled or rail type.

In Figure 1 the different orientation of the blocks representing the stations 2, 22, 222 indicates a different direction of displacement which may also be variable over time, as well as a height of the station.

According to the control method of the present invention, the stations perform a number of measurements of physical parameters or characteristics of the space occupied by them or the space which they are about to pass through or have already occupied, depending on the on-board instrumentation available in the station. In Figure 1, the station 2 performs a measurement m2, the station 22 performs a measurement m22 and the station 222 performs a measurement m222, each measurement being associated with a position in which the respective station is located, in space, or the position to which the measurement refers. Purely by way of example, considering an on-board instrument M able to measure the presence of a cumuliform cloud formation or other station at a predetermined distance from the station and its size, it is envisaged transmitting a measurement of the size of the atmospheric formation or the station detected, but also its distance from the station which performed the measurement.

After carrying out the measurements or at predetermined time intervals, each station transmits the measurements to a control centre 3 interconnected to them via a network or a communications channel, for example by means of satellite connection to a satellite to which both the control centre and the other stations are linked. The control centre is for example an earth station or satellite station.

The control centre 3 receives from each station the measurements along with a specific position, for example comprising the altitude and/or the geographical coordinates and/or the speed of the station which performed them. The measurements m2, m22, m222 are also associated with temporal information relating to the moment in which the recording was performed.

If, for example, the space is occupied by N stations and all the N stations send their measurements m2, m22, m222, the control centre receives N measurements associated with respective positions. If, on the other hand, a subassembly M of the stations sends the measurements, the control centre receives M measurements.

The control centre calculates a virtual measurement v22 of the physical parameter or the characteristics of the space associated with a station in the space, for example the station 22 shown in Figure 1, on the basis of the measurements received from other stations 2, 222 in the space, for example received from all the stations except for the station to which it sends the virtual measurement v22. These measurements cover a predetermined area of the space, as schematically shown in Figure 1, where the area recorded by the station is indicated by A2, and the areas recorded by the stations 22 and 222 are indicated, respectively, by A22 and A222. The greater the number N of stations present in the space and transmitting the measurements recorded, the greater is the accuracy of the virtual measurement which has been sent from the control centre to one of the stations in the space.

In one embodiment of the present invention, it is envisaged that the calculation of the virtual measurement v22 intended for a predetermined station is carried out considering also the measurement m22 performed by the predetermined station. For calculation of the virtual measurement, the control centre considers both the position of the stations from which it received the measurements m2, m22, m222 and the position of the station for which the virtual measurement v22 is intended. The virtual measurement is then transmitted to the station 22, in its respective position S22. According to an embodiment of the present invention, the virtual measurement v2 is displayed in a station by means of a display interface or virtual equipment. This interface is for example displayed on integrated on-board instrumentation or on a portable device of the station, which are connected to the control centre. In one embodiment, the device is an iPad. According to a particularly advantageous aspect of the present invention, the virtual measurements v200 are also transmitted to a mobile station 200 which has not sent any measurement to the control centre 3 and/or does not have on-board instrumentation, for example because it is costly, such as a radar. The measurements 2, 22 performed by the stations 2, 22 equipped with radars are for example radar recordings and the stations are aircraft or vessels. In this case, the virtual measurements are displayed on the display interface as a virtual radar which is able to show both the flying area in front of the aircraft or the navigation area in front of the vessel, and the flying area behind it, since the areas which cannot be detected by the on- board radar are reconstructed by means of the calculation from the control centre. Advantageously, the virtual radar has a range or sweep greater than the range of an onboard radar and preferably covers the entire space in which the stations are situated. The recording may also be performed and transmitted to the control centre 3 by a satellite station earth-based or orbiting around another spatial body. The above specifically described for radar recordings is. applicable, according to the method of the present invention, to other recordings, for example the recording of a turbulence level. It is envisaged that the control method incorporates means for calculating a preferential route which excludes the areas in which the control centre has calculated the presence of turbulence, on the basis of the information received from the other stations which previously occupied these areas.

The physical parameters or characteristics of the space are recorded by means of onboard instrumentation comprising one or more accelerometers and/or a gyroscope, preferably of the laser type, and/or a GPS for detecting a height, speed and direction of said station. According to a particularly advantageous aspect of the present invention, one or more digital images of the instrumentation integrated or on-board the station, which graphically represent the measurements at a time t, are recorded and transmitted to the control centre. Upon receiving the digital images, the control centre performs interpretation thereof, for example by means of a graphical recognition system, and processes them with the data relating to the position, direction, speed and height of the transmitting station at the time t, in order to calculate the virtual measurements.

For example, the images are recorded by one or more webcams or digital cameras focused on the instrumentation in the cockpit. Preferably, each image is a photograph of a plurality of instruments installed in predetermined positions of the cockpit and therefore comprises useful information regarding the measurements performed at the time t by each instrument; the values recorded by the measurements are for example associated with a position of a needle and/or a pointer and/or a numerical value on the instrument photographed at the instant t. The system for processing the images in the control centre graphically compares the digital images received from the stations with a reference image and determines the measurements on the basis of the graphical difference between the images.

Preferably the position in which the webcams or the digital cameras are installed in a station is predefined. For example the webcams or the digital cameras are installed in a specific position of the cockpit and this position is predefined for the aircraft of a given model which are known to be provided with equivalent instrumentation. In this way, the images recorded at the time t, i.e. the photographs of the instrumentation with the associated needles or pointers, may be easily compared with the reference images; in fact the location of the instruments in the reference image is substantially identical or in a known spatial relationship with respect to the location of the instruments in the recorded images, and, by comparing said images, it is possible to locate with great precision and rapidly the position of the needles and/or the pointers and/or the indicators representing the measurements performed.

With reference to Figures 2 and 3, a description is provided hereinbelow of the method for controlling a space through which a number of stations, for example a number of aircraft, are passing, in order to determine the position, the size and the speed of displacement of an atmospheric event, for example a cumulonimbus cloud.

In particular, Figure 2 shows a first aircraft which is moving in a direction of 320°, at a speed of TAS 380 KTS/GS 480 KTS, in a position N33E013 and at a height of 30,000 ft; this information is recorded by the aircraft itself and sent to the control centre at a time tl, for example at 10:00:00, local time, at the control centre. At the time tl, the aircraft also detects a cumulonimbus cloud and communicates its polar position with respect to the aircraft, for example 345765NM.

A second aircraft is in flight and is moving in a direction of 090°, at a speed TAS 380 KTS/GS 480 KTS, in a position N32E005 and at a height of 30,000 ft, and sends to the control centre this information at the time tl 10:00:00. The same aircraft, at the time tl, also communicates the polar position of cumulonimbus cloud with respect thereto, for example 335 80NM.

Obviously, the values relating to direction (or "track"), speed, position and height are provided only by way of example and the time at which the first aircraft communicates with the control centre may be different from the time at which the second aircraft communicates with the control centre. Moreover, as already mentioned, other stations which are mobile and/or not mobile may be used, in addition or as an alternative to aircraft.

The same recordings are carried out and transmitted from the aircraft at a time t2>tl . For example, at the time t2 10:00:05, the first aircraft has a direction of 320°, a speed of TAS 380 KTS/GS 480 KTS, a position N33.2E013, a height of 30,000 ft and the polar position of the cumulonimbus cloud with respect to the first aircraft is recorded at 336 67NM. The second aircraft at the time t2 10:00:05 has a direction 090°, a speed TAS 380 KTS/GS 480 KTS, a position N32E005.2 and a height of 30,000 ft and detects the cumulonimbus cloud at a polar position of 355777NM.

Depending on the data received from the two aircraft, the control centre determines the movement data of the cumulonimbus cloud, i.e. the movement characteristics such as the direction and the speed, for example a direction of 220° and a speed of 27 KTS.

By means of a plurality of aircraft which pass through the air space, the control centre therefore manages to monitor a predetermined space. In particular, the control centre performs a subdivision or mapping of the flying space around the earth and identifies a plurality of cells. Each cell is a three-dimensional space with a basic predefined amplitude and predefined height which may be monitored by means of the measurements performed by the aircraft which pass through the cell itself or which, even though passing outside the cell, perform measurements within the space bounded by it.

The virtual measurements in the cell, for example the displacement of the cumulonimbus clouds, are calculated by the control centre, on the basis of the real measurements recorded by the aircraft. The control centre also stores the connections or boundaries between neighbouring cells, in order to calculate the virtual measurements, such as the displacements of the cumulonimbus clouds, between the cells.

According to the method of the invention, the stations, which may be mobile and/or not mobile, are able to communicate with the control centre synchronously or asynchronously. In particular in the case of asynchronous communication it is envisaged that it is the control centre which reconfigures the data recorded by different mobile stations regarding a same atmospheric event (for example the same cumulonimbus cloud). For example, assuming that a first mobile station detects and transmits a position pi of a cumulonimbus cloud at the instant tl, local time at the control centre, and that a second station detects and transmits a position p2 of the cumulonimbus cloud at the instant t2, where t2>tl, again local time at the control centre, for example 10 minutes after tl, it is envisaged that the data received thereafter by the control centre, i.e. the position p2, is not discarded but used in order to characterize better the movement of the cumulonimbus cloud in the space, while taking into account that p2 is a position which is no longer current, but refers to a preceding position of the cumulonimbus cloud compared to the position pi .

Advantageously, according to this aspect of the present invention, a mobile station which requests data (virtual measurements) of a cell or a predetermined space which involves several cells obtains an immediate response from the control centre, since the data has already been calculated by the control centre which reconfigures the measurements received from other mobile stations, depending on the time and the movements of the stations or the atmospheric formations.

When the control centre receives from a mobile station a request for virtual information or measurements, for example relating to the position of the cumulonimbus clouds, it obtains from the requesting station its position, speed, height and direction at a certain time tl and calculates the virtual measurement or information to be transmitted to the requesting station depending on the time when this virtual measurement or information may be received from the requesting station. In particular, the data transmitted by the control centre is calculated considering also the displacement of the cumulonimbus cloud or the atmospheric event depending on the movement characteristics of the cumulonimbus cloud and the requesting station and the time needed to transmit this information.

Depending on a tilt value of the radar of the transmitting station it is also envisaged determining an approximate height of an echo received and its perimeter. Analysing therefore the various echoes received on different levels, it is envisaged reproducing a three-dimensional image of the cumulonimbus cloud or the turbulence detected, defining a volume rather than an area, and preferably displaying it in 3D form on a graphical interface of the requesting aircraft, with a considerable advantage regarding the decisions to be taken during the flight. According to an aspect of the present invention, the turbulence is displayed by means of a 4D interface. Essentially, on this interface, a three-dimensional diagram representing the flying space is shown with colouring having a brightness which refers to a turbulence level detected by the stations which have passed through or occupied at least partly the flying space. For example, a high turbulence level is indicated by means of a very bright colour and lower turbulence levels are indicated by a less bright colour.

The interface can be navigated and displayed from various observation points which may be set and varied by the pilot and which allow the different degrees of colour brightness representing the turbulence level to be observed from several angles.

Advantageously, according to the present invention, the virtual measurements refer to a three-dimensional space and not to a substantially two-dimensional space. In particular, the different flying heights of different mobile stations allow measurements referring to a same geographical area recorded at different heights to be received at the control centre. According to this aspect, the virtual measurements allow a pilot to be shown or supplied with a much more comprehensive overall picture compared to that possible with the on-board instrumentation, since the pilot may identify the best route not only by means of display of the atmospheric events present at the flying altitude but also by means of display of events situated above, behind and below and therefore undertake variations in the route or height only when a better condition is actually forecast.

According to another aspect of the invention, it is envisaged that the value of the recording is provided with respect to the track, i.e. with respect to the direction or the path followed, and preferably a projection perpendicular to this path in relation to the earth's surface. In this connection, it is envisaged taking into account at the control centre or directly at the mobile station the drift of the aircraft, i.e. the difference between the direction of a horizontal axis x of the aircraft on which a weather radar is installed and the direction of the aircraft. This information is easily measured by verifying the distance between the true direction of the aircraft (compass reading corrected by the magnetic declination passed through at each instant) and the actual route which it follows (track).

Finally it is envisaged that the control centre, in order to construct a very precise representation of the space, may exclude mobile stations which are considered to be not very reliable or replace them with more precise stations. In this connection the control centre is able to filter the data supplied by the transmitting stations, using or discarding the data received; for example, it is envisaged that the control centre may send a disable signal to the sensors of a mobile station in order to avoid the reception of the data relating to radar echoes, for example after determining that this data is not correct or consistent; in order to perform these checks, the control centre communicates with an application present in the mobile stations.

Numerous variations of embodiment and improvements to the method and the system described above are possible and fall within the scope of protection of the present invention. For example, a station may be provided with voice recognition means. Advantageously, using a tablet or an iPad as an internal platform of the cockpit for the transmission of data (measurements), it is possible to use the voice recognition means of the tablet, avoiding therefore the need for an ad hoc system to be installed on-board. Moreover, the automated features of the aircraft and/or of certain instruments and/or of the on-board installations may be interfaced with the voice recognition means of the tablet, which thus constitutes an additional interface which is particularly useful in the event of malfunctioning of the standard interface of said installations or instruments.

Again by way of example, it is possible to use the thermometer of the tablet or the iPad or the on-board thermometer in order to detect a rapid decompression or opening of a cockpit window (in the case of smoke on-board), in view of the sudden drop in temperature. In this case also, the station may send instantaneously to the control centre information which is very useful for monitoring the traffic and advanced alerting of the maintenance support team.

Similarly it is possible to use the microphone of the tablet or iPad or the on-board microphone in order to produce a sudden increase in the noise level which may be associated with a malfunction or a breakage. Moreover, the microphone of the tablet may be used, in the event of malfunctioning of the radio, for voice communication with the air traffic controller, using the satellite VHF digital network or ACARS land network or for performing encrypted calls via radio, without the need for a dedicated instrument installed on-board the station.

Again by means of the system of the present invention, it is possible to transmit data, messages, films or images, which do not necessarily relate to the weather or travel conditions or the measurements performed, i.e. using the system as an infrastructure for general purpose data transposition between aircraft and control centre. Finally it is possible to use the television camera already set for recording the images of the on-board instrumentation, in order to perform further monitoring of the cockpit. For example, the television camera may detect an incorrect manoeuvre performed by a pilot (such as the switching off of an efficient engine in the event of one engine shut down) and activate an alarm in the cockpit.

Claims

- 20 - CLAIMS
1. Method to control a space (1), characterized by:
- performing measurements (m2, m22) of at least one physical parameter in a plurality of stations (2, 22) installed or mobile in said space;
- transmitting the measurements (m2, m22) to a control centre (3) interconnected to the stations (2, 22), each measurement (m2, m22) being associated with a position (S2, S22) of the station (2, 22) which performed the measurement (m2, m22);
- calculating, in the control centre (3), virtual measurements (v2, v22) of the physical parameter, associated with respective positions (S2, S22) of the stations (2, 22) in the space, the virtual measurement (v2) of each station (2) being calculated by means of the measurements (m22) of the physical parameters received from the other stations (22) in the space;
- transmitting the virtual measurement (v2, v22) to each station (2, 22) in the respective position (S2, S22).
2. Control method according to claim 1, characterized in that the measurements (m2, m22) are also associated with temporal information of recording the measurement and/or with a speed and/or with an altitude of the station which performed the measurement, and in that said calculation of the virtual measurement is performed considering also at least one data item from among said temporal information and/or the speed and/or the altitude received from the other stations (22) in the space.
3. Control method according to claim 1, characterized in that the virtual measurement (v2, v22) is displayed in a station by means of a display interface or virtual equipment, said interface being preferably displayed on on-board instrumentation of the station or on an on-board portable device of the station, which are connected to said control centre, said portable device being preferably an iPad.
4. Method according to claim 1, characterized in that the control centre is an earth station. - 21 -
5. Method according to claim 1, characterized in that the control centre is a satellite station.
6. Method according to claim 1, characterized in that the virtual measurements (v2, v22) are transmitted also to a station, mobile or installed in said space, which has not sent any measurement to the control centre (3) and/or does not have on-board instrumentation.
7. Method according to claim 1, characterized in that the measurements (2, 22) comprise a radar recording performed by means of an on-board radar of a station.
8. Method according to claim 1, characterized in that the stations consist of an aircraft or a vessel.
9. Method according to claims 7 and 8, characterized in that the virtual measurements are displayed on said display interface as a virtual radar and characterized in that said virtual radar shows both the flying area in front of the aircraft or the navigation area in front of the vessel, and the flying area behind it, reproducing the objects or the like with a polar recording relative to the station receiving the virtual radar.
10. Method according to claim 7 or claim 8, characterized in that said virtual radar has a range greater than the range of an on-board radar and preferably covers the entire space in which said stations are located.
11. Method according to claim 7, characterized in that said radar recording is further performed and transmitted to the control centre (3) by a satellite station earth-based or orbiting around another spatial body.
12. Method according to claim 1, characterized in that said measurement comprises a recording of an objective turbulence level.
13. Method according to claim 1, characterized in that the control centre and the stations are interconnected by means of an ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and
Reporting System) network, Immarsat network or any other network available and able to transfer, in a suitable manner, the information to the control centre.
14. Method according to claim 1, characterized in that the physical parameter is - 22 - recorded by means of instrumentation already installed and operating on-board or onboard, for example an iPad or a tablet, comprising one or more accelerometers and/or a gyroscope, preferably of the laser type, and/or a GPS for detecting a height, speed and direction of said station.
15. Method according to claim 1, characterized in that said physical parameter is a distance between stations in the space and said interface displays a virtual anti-collision system or virtual TCAS (Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System).
16. Method according to claim 1, characterized by recording one or more digital images of the instrumentation integrated or on-board the station, which graphically represent said measurements at a time t and in that the control centre receives said digital images and interprets them by means of a graphical recognition system and processes the digital images with the position, direction, speed and height data of the transmitting station at the time t, for calculation of the virtual measurements.
17. System for controlling a space (1), characterized in that it comprises means (m2, m22) for measuring at least one physical parameter on-board a station (2, 22) installed or mobile in said space, means for transmitting the measurement (m2, m22) to a control centre (3) interconnected to the stations (2, 22), each measurement (m2, m22) being associated with a position (S2, S22) of the station (2, 22) which performed the measurement (m2, m22); - calculating, in the control centre (3), virtual measurements (v2, v22) of the physical parameter, associated with respective positions (S2, S22) of the stations (2, 22) in the space, the virtual measurement (v2) of each station (2) being calculated by means of the measurements (m22) of the physical parameters received from the other stations (22) in the space; - transmitting the virtual measurement (v2, v22) to each station (2, 22) in the respective position (S2, S22) and graphically displaying the measurement on a display interface or virtual instrumentation of the station.
PCT/IB2014/058236 2013-01-15 2014-01-13 Method to control a space including a plurality of mobile or not mobile stations WO2014111842A1 (en)

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