RETINA Are Bringing Augmented Reality To Air Traffic Control Towers

A new project is aiming to make it easier for staff in airport control towers to visualize information to help make their job easier by leveraging augmented reality (AR) technology. The project, dubbed RETINA, is looking to modernise Europe’s air traffic management for safer, smarter and even smoother air travel.


As the technology in synthetic vision and AR continues to improve at rapid speeds the range of applications of for the technology expand as well. AR has been adopted into a number of different aviation areas including aircraft and maintenance. With RETINA, staff in the air traffic control towers will be able to take advantage of the tools to enable more seamless operating under difficult or busy conditions.

Funded by the European Union, the RETINA project has investigated the potential and applicability of synthetic vision tools along with the use of AR display techniques for air traffic control staff. “Built upon technology developed by the SESAR project, RETINA aimed to enhance sight capabilities and situational awareness of air traffic controllers in control towers, allowing them to better manage traffic especially when bad weather sets in,” Said Professor Sara Bagassi, reports pddnet.


The solution that RETINA are developing allows for enhanced sight capabilities and situational awareness of air traffic controllers in control towers. This allows for better management of traffic aiding in monitoring take-offs, landings and ground traffics alongside other information such as weather and wind details. This is handled via head-mounted displays (HMDs) which display over the actual ‘out-of-the-window’ view and leverage the technology to superimpose the required information to the wear all while allowing them to maintain their view of the busy airport environment.

The validation campaign for the project was completed in the VR and Simulation Laboratory at the University of Bologna, Italy. The space mimics the environment at Bologna airport which is a typical regional airport where low-visibility conditions such as fog are an often occurrence. The Microsoft HoloLens HMD has been used for the testing period and is seen to be the ideal headset for the application use.

As the solution continues to be developed and put through testing, it may be sometime until it is rolled out to airports around Europe. VRFocus will be sure to keep you up to date on all the latest in the future, so stay tuned for more.