Alexander Robinson

Alexander Robinson, Lead, Simulation & Training – Aviation, Seeing Machines

Integrating Eye-Tracking and Head-Up Display in Pilot Training

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Alexander Robinson is Lead, Simulation & Training – Aviation, with Seeing Machines. Passionate about aviation since his childhood, Alexander’s first job was sweeping hangar floors, cleaning aircraft, and gapping spark plugs during school vacations at a local flight training school.

Alexander served six years in the Royal Australian Air Force flying PC-9/A and CT-4B aircraft. After scrubbing off Advanced Pilots Course, Alexander left aviation for several years to work at Caterpillar Inc. In 2015 Alexander returned to the industry through co-founding an aviation technology start-up, Airly.

In 2017, an opportunity presented itself to work on improving pilot monitoring through the computer vision and operator monitoring company, Seeing Machines.

Alexander is excited about sharing progress in the aircrew monitoring and evidence-based training regime, and the value behind this. When not enjoying private piloting, Alexander enjoys running, writing and spending time with his family.

HUD Integrated with Aircrew Eye-Tracking for Improved Capability

Head-Up Displays (HUDs) and Head-Up Guidance Systems (HGS), when integrated with eye-tracking solutions as a training tool, with instructor and pilot input, and supported by visual and instructional learning tools; introduce value beyond real-time gaze tracking, into safety, organisational, and operational capability drivers.

With the growth of the aviation industry, and an experienced pilot shortage looming, these factors are driving an urgent need to improve training effectiveness and the effectiveness of understanding and training of associated performance monitoring. National regulators and transport safety experts recognise that poor flight path monitoring is a major contributor to aircraft accidents, incidents, and near misses, but current regulations do not address pilot monitoring skills.

With aircrew needing to monitor increasingly complex aircraft and systems, and with increased dependency on automation, effective situational awareness through efficient scanning is critically important.

HUD/HGS are increasingly prevalent in single- and multi-crew cockpits, and they have been recognised as a powerful tool for accident prevention in substantially reducing crew error, and improving aircrew situational awareness. However, they do present a training challenge in that it is difficult for an instructor or examiner to confirm the exact nature of a pilot’s scan, or even that the HUD is being used at all. 

Precision eye tracking helps overcome a gap in traditional flight simulator training that now has the potential to be filled: understanding aircrew behaviour, decision-making, and attention levels, through making pilots’ scan patterns observable and within the normal training footprint. For the first time, instructors can confirm the degree of attention being given to flight path monitoring.

Combined eye-tracking with HUD adds value beyond reduced errors and increased situational awareness, in helping maximise training efficiency and effectiveness through enabling Competency- and Evidence-Based Training; supporting data-driven training programs; extracting instructors’ high-value knowledge & experience; and enabling effective brief, debrief, and learning opportunities.