Fog won’t ground planes someday, when they’re using a system being developed at the University of Iowa. Professor Tom Schnell is working on a system dubbed “Synthetic Vision” that uses detailed G-P-S technology to give an airplane pilot a look at the landing strip even when weather blocks the view.He says it will show terrain and landmarks on a computer screen to give a view of what’s outside, regardless of real visibility outside.Schnell says there’s actually nothing new about most of the technology that would give a driver or pilot “synthetic vision.”He says the military already uses a lot of the technology, and global positioning systems have mapped all the earth’s surface, especially in the U-S. The “synthetic vision” program simply makes use of that data.Airplanes already use a version of GPS that offers a “moving map” and this just shows it in three dimensions. Schnell explains it’s not real vision, and not a new way to x-ray or otherwise see through clouds or fog.Rather than a sensor penetrating clouds, it’s a stored datafile using GPS to find out which section of the stored terrain to show you. The University of Iowa is working with Rockwell Collins and the Iowa Space Consortium, with funds from NASA. Synthetic Vision will be on display at the Iowa City airport during this weekend’s “Fly Iowa” airshow.
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