Cobham has been awarded a contract by the U.S Office of the Secretary of Defense to develop the Autonomous Pilot Life Support System (APLSS).
The resulting system will be the world’s first sensor driven breathing regulator to automatically adjust oxygen dosed to the pilot based on changing physiological need and dynamic aircraft conditions.
Cobham’s SmartFLO electronic breathing regulator will autocorrect flow to proactively pre-empt the onset of hypoxia-like symptoms if unexpected changes in cabin pressure or excessive expired carbon dioxide levels in the pilot’s breathing are detected to better protect the pilot. Delivery of the SmartFLO regulator is anticipated in 2020.
“Cobham’s VigilOX breathing sensors are currently being flight tested to monitor and collect data on pilot respiration through expired oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to better understand human-aircraft interactions regarding unexplained physiological events. While data analysis is on-going, we are now moving forward in developing a ‘predict and protect’ capability that will use real-time sensor data to cause the SmartFLO regulator to auto-adjust flow based on cabin pressure and physiological cues. The result essentially customizes oxygen dose to enhance pilot safety and performance,” said Rob Schaeffer, Product Director, Environmental Systems at Cobham Mission Systems.
Through the APLSS program, Cobham will expand its VigilOX sensor system respiration data profile by integrating additional inputs from Elbit Systems’ Canary product, a real-time pilot health monitoring system that captures hemo-dynamic pilot data. This expanded data profile will paint a more complete picture of what is happening to the pilot physiologically during all flight conditions. Cobham will develop an algorithm to drive the regulator to increase or decrease oxygen dose flowing to the pilot based on sensor inputs.
“This autonomous self-regulating capability is a paradigm shift that extends beyond monitoring and requiring the pilot to take manual corrective action. The SmartFLO regulator will automatically respond to protect the pilot, which provides a layer of vigilance that has not existed before,” said Schaeffer.
The SmartFLO self-adjusting regulator and the SureSTREAM enhanced capability oxygen concentrator are the core building blocks towards Cobham’s goal of developing its complete auto response-guided oxygen system, ARGOS.
ARGOS will automatically protect the pilot from the onset of hypoxia-like symptoms by rapidly adjusting breathing gas dose based on dynamic pilot physiological demand and cockpit conditions. Cobham is also developing a SmartBOS back-up oxygen system that will automatically supply emergency oxygen as needed. Working with our VigilOX sensors, ARGOS will have the ability to control the entire pilot oxygen system from air source to mask.