At ISAE-SUPAERO, the cockpits of the future are at the heart of research

Available online :

• For many years, researchers at ISAE-SUPAERO have been involved in research into cognitive aircraft systems, the virtual cockpit assistants of the future.
• This is the theme of the ICCAS international conference, to be held on May 16 and 17 on the ISAE-SUPAERO campus.

In the new generations of civil and military aircraft, operations are becoming increasingly complex. The number of tasks delegated to the machine is such that pilots are taking on a real supervisory role, bringing with them new responsibilities.

What if the machine could also assist pilots in their operations, in a perspective of human-machine cooperation? A machine with the ability to detect fatigue, reduced vigilance, stress or even over-reliance on automatic systems, and to adapt to the situation –

This is not science fiction.

Illustration neuroergonomie

At ISAE-SUPAERO, research into methods for estimating the state of operators (pilots, air traffic controllers) with a view to adapting systems and interfaces to their mental state, is mobilizing researchers from the Deparment of Aerospace Vehicles Desing and Control (DCAS).

Caroline Chanel and Mickaël Causse are at the heart of this research. They are also behind the ICCAS international conference, which will bring together world-renowned scientists on the ISAE-SUPAERO campus on May 16 and 17.


Capturing pilots intentions

Caroline Chanel, a researcher in autonomous systems control, artificial intelligence and human-system interaction, is particularly interested in decision-making methods designed to capture the states or intentions of pilots, in order to propose an appropriate response.

The PHYBIC project measures the pilot’s brain activity through signals picked up by electrodes, then translates it using algorithms, with the aim of understanding which instrument the pilot is focusing on. The aim? To decipher the pilot’s intentions or a degraded cognitive state, enabling the machine to trigger actions to relieve him or accompany him on certain tasks.

The MINERVA project studies how pilots interact with the machine in emergency situations. This research project required the development of a software architecture enabling the machine to understand the pilot’s intentions, using voice recognition and eye tracking, to capture his preferences and answer the question: in a given situation, what type of assistance should the machine offer? The ultimate aim is to develop a cognitive assistant for human-machine collaboration.


Preventing incapacitation

Recent work by neuroscience researcher Mickaël Causse has focused on the study of the startle reflex in pilots, with the aim of preventing incapacitation.

The Eye-Interaction project involves inducing a startle reflex in a panel of pilots (qualified or in training) during flight scenarios on an Airbus A320 simulator. The aim is to identify the parameters, notably physiological and personality, in participants who do not startle, or at least who suffer few consequences in terms of flight control, and to envisage the types of devices needed to dissipate the stress effect in pilots.

The European HAIKU (Human AI teaming Knowledge and Understanding for aviation safety) project, led by ENAC’s ACHIL team with support from ISAE-SUPAERO, aims to create an assistant called FOCUS (Flight Operational Companion for Unexpected Situations) to help regulate surprise and startle reactions. This adaptive tool collects data from the pilot and the aircraft to identify startle. When it is detected, the AI initiates a collaborative procedure to help the pilot regain a state of calm and situational awareness, thereby assisting him in his decision-making.

These four projects will be presented at the ICCAS conference.


Researchers at ISAE-SUPAERO

Caroline Chanel format rond
I’ve always been fascinated by autonomous systems and am delighted to be teaching and working on this subject. I’m interested in embedded decision-making methods to improve the efficiency, operational safety, and adaptability of autonomous systems. My research, supported by the Agence de l’Innovation de Défense (AID), the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) and the sponsorship chair with Dassault Aviation (of which I’ve been head since 2022), contributes to various scientific fields, from artificial intelligence to human-machine interaction and neuroscience. Last year was rich in publications and international project launches and was marked by the award of my Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (HDR). I have also become the head of the Autonomous Systems module offered in the 3rd year of the Ingénieur ISAE-SUPAERO program.

Caroline Chanel - teacher-researcher in decision and control for autonomous systems

Mickaël Causse format rond
A neuropsychologist by training, I discovered the fascinating field of neuroergonomics, a discipline that comes to us straight from the United States. Applying knowledge of brain function to improve interactions with technology fascinates me. I’m particularly interested in the effects of stress, mental load, and aging on human performance. My research has been supported by the French Defense Innovation Agency (AID), the French National Research Agency (ANR), Europe (SESAR project) and a sponsorship chair with Dassault Aviation, for which I was responsible for 5 years. The year 2024 is rich in projects, including an exciting study in collaboration with the Swiss aviation authorities on the impact of aging on cognitive performance, to accompany the increase in the retirement age of air traffic controllers. In this context, we are using a test developed at ISAE-SUPAERO: the Toulouse N-back Task. I also have the pleasure of co-organizing ICCAS 2024 with Caroline Chanel, a conference I helped create in 2019 with Dassault Aviation.

Mickaël Causse - teacher-researcher in neuroscience

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