“The higher the immersiveness, the better experience for the pilot, and the more they believe they’re actually flying an aircraft,” says Marc St-Hilaire, Vice President, Technology and Innovation at CAE (I/ITSEC booth 1734).
CAE has continued to refine its approach to building flight simulators, aiming not only for higher fidelity, but for a much-shortened development period. “We made that pivot by leveraging the global supply chain - cost elements of commercial off-the-shelf electronics, computers, motion systems and projectors,” says St-Hilaire.
Part of the focus on ready-made components is CAE’s decision to pivot to the Unreal Engine (booth 1815) as the software platform for its next generation of visual solutions.
“Pilots sense motion through their bodies. Their eyes are telling them where they are and where they’re going; their inner ears are sensing acceleration and rotation; their sense of touch provides force feedback. That loop is very delicate,” St-Hilaire explains. “Any latency, any delay in that loop, will make something feel incorrect, can impact the pilot’s control of the simulated aircraft, and overall will make the pilot disconnect from the experience.”
This, he says, highlights the importance of network latency - it’s just as critical as the simulator’s own latency in keeping the simulation immersive, realistic, and effective for training.
In November 2021, CAE announced its new Prodigy image generator, which supports an order-of-magnitude increase in the number of entities previously available in a virtual environment. Prodigy boasts extremely realistic virtual environments from Unreal Engine; support for AI and industry standards such as DirectX, OpenFlight, and OGC CDB; a small footprint; compatibility with up to 8K projectors; and the highest standards of cybersecurity.
St-Hilaire is enthusiastic about what the future holds for CAE, with Unreal Engine under the hood of its next generation of simulators. “Given the posture of our friends at Epic Games, and the posture of all the collaborators, we’re going to work together on solving the problems of the simulation community, and I am positive that this collaboration will bring us closer to our goals for training in aviation, and beyond.”