Flight Planning and Route Analysis Via 4D Scene Building

The state-of-the-art CoViz® 4D software from Dynamic Graphics,® Inc. is extremely powerful for data ingestion/integration, and quantitative spatiotemporal visualization across multiple data types. These unique capabilities are already leveraged by users across many disciplines and industries. Recently DGI has also been focusing on aerospace / military applications, with particular attention to 4D scene building and route/flight planning and analysis.
Three Dee scene of San Juan Bautista, California, built from simple latitude and longitude input and user-specified radius.

Figure 1. 3D scene of San Juan Bautista, CA, built from simple latitude / longitude input and user-specified radius. Open-source data from Open Topography API and Open City Model were loaded to CoViz 4D using a script in a Jupyter notebook.

Route analysis / flight planning depends on access to the appropriate influential inputs: As a minimum, this will include terrain, airspace obstruction data, and any specific local restrictions. Depending on the mission or application, this could also involve targeting objectives, refueling points, hostile areas to be avoided, weather, allied troop and vehicle movements, and additional supporting information. The CoViz 4D software is an ideal platform to ingest and merge these multiple data streams, leading to up-to-date, accurate 4D environments in which routes and missions can be planned successfully. Moreover, these 4D environments within CoViz 4D are fully interactive and quantitative. So, for example, users can interactively measure distances between obstructions; or automated quantitative tools can calculate the suitability of landing zones based on slopes, clearances, elevations, etc.
Three Dee scene of McNeil Island, Washington, Corrections Center.

Figure 2. 3D scene of McNeil Island, WA, Corrections Center. A Jupyter notebook script was used to access open-source data from Open Topography API and Open City Model for a given radius around the input latitude / longitude.

These 3D scenes are frequently built from classified or proprietary data, but there will also be occasions when a user wishes to build a scene in its entirety based on the best possible openly available datasets. DGI has built workflows to address this requirement. These processes can be seeded with as little as a single latitude / longitude location, and a radius of interest (Figures 1 and 2). Using these basic inputs, the process runs entirely automatically to download a digital elevation model, satellite imagery, and builds footprints / obstruction data from the most appropriate Cloud-based sources. These data are then automatically processed and assembled into an interactive 3D/ 4D scene. The user can then immediately interact with this scene to digitize a new flight path for example. Quantitative tools can be run on the new flight path to access distances between the aircraft and building / obstructions (Figure 3).

Figure 3. CoViz 4D animation of airborne mission showing surface DEM, flightpath and buildings. The building color reflects the clearance distance from the aircraft, and coloring changes on-the-fly as the mission route is rehearsed.

Additional tools can compute, for example, the suitability of landing zones and could be used to identify the best available landing zones close to the end of the flight path. All of this can be accomplished with the minimum of user involvement by utilizing the powerful CoViz 4D API to link these scripts with the 4D visualization engine. Furthermore, these workflow scripts can easily be modified by different users (the Jupyter Notebook environment is often used as the editing environment for this code). So, for instance, one user could customize their script to pull from LANDSAT data for their surface imagery, whereas a different user might prefer SPOT imagery.
The use case discussed above is just one of many potential applications. For example, the software could be used pre-flight for mission rehearsal or briefing. Additional data on threats or targets of opportunity could also be instantly incorporated into the flight plan whilst in-flight, offering suggestions to the pilot in an evolving real-time theatre of operations. Likewise, the software could be invaluable in post-flight debriefing. For a wide set of applications, the flexibility and strengths of the CoViz 4D package can be utilized to maximize the value of available data for users, leading to lower risk, better understanding and increased performance.
Contact DGI to learn more about how CoViz 4D can assist in flight planning and route analysis by building interactive, quantitative 3D and 4D scenes.

Data Sources/Credits

DEM data downloaded via Open Topography API: https://opentopography.org/

Data obtained from OpenTopography are free of all copyright restrictions and made fully and freely available for both non-commercial and commercial uses.

DEM are from the SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission); The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) obtained elevation data on a near-global scale to generate the most complete high-resolution digital topographic database of Earth. SRTM consisted of a specially modified radar system that flew onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour during an 11-day mission in February of 2000. SRTM is an international project spearheaded by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Building Shape data downloaded via AWS OpenCity Model Data s3 bucket: https://registry.opendata.aws/opencitymodel/

Open City Model is an initiative to provide cityGML data for all the buildings in the United States. By using other open datasets in conjunction with our own code and algorithms it is our goal to provide 3D geometries for every US building. https://github.com/opencitymodel/opencitymodel


PREDaTORS2: Creating the New Standard in Mission Planning Software

PREDaTORS2 is being developed as an all-encompassing aviation mission software suite specifically designed for the military user. Development focuses on solving the most critical mission needs with special attention on planning, rehearsal, execution, and debriefing in tactical and operational environments.

Geospatial Analysis in CoViz 4D

CoViz 4D excels in scene building and data integration, key components in Geospatial Analysis. Geospatial datasets frequently involve large and varied sets of data, including: topography, satellite and hyperspectral imagery, LiDAR, buildings (footprints / rooflines), vehicle / traffic information, roads and infrastructure, and other envelopes (e.g., air space restrictions). These diverse data streams are typically derived from disparate sources and CoViz 4D includes automated workflows for reading many industry-standard, third-party data formats and integrating them in a common visual and analytical environment.


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