June 29, 2017

Digital pilot in the cockpit – the A-PiMod project receives the German Mobility Award

  • A-PiMod – a digital 'third person' in the cockpit supports pilots and recommends courses of action.
  • The project was honoured with the German Mobility Award on 28 June 2017.
  • Focus: Aviation, Digitalisation

The idea behind the A-PiMod project is to install a digital pilot in the cockpit to provide its human colleagues with in-flight advice. The research was conducted by the Institute of Flight Guidance at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), in cooperation with seven partners from science and industry. A-PiMod was honoured with the German Mobility Award as a lighthouse project for smart mobility on 28 June 2017 in Berlin.

Computerised crew member

At present, cockpit operations cannot take place without automated procedures. However, this is usually done for technical reasons, and the state of the pilots is seldom taken into account. This creates a complex interface between the pilot and the automated systems. Analyses of accidents indicate that problems with this human/machine interface contribute to a significant proportion of serious incidents. The newly developed cockpit architecture A-PiMod (Applying Pilot Models for Safer Aircraft), a 'cockpit of the future', improves human/machine cooperation. "To do this, A-PiMod monitors the aircraft and its environmental conditions, as well as the state of the pilots," explains Andreas Hasselberg from the DLR Institute of Flight Guidance. "The system uses the pilots' eye movements, gestures and operations to draw conclusions about their current intentions, situational awareness and work-related stress." A-PiMod uses this data to provide the pilots with the best possible support in any given situation. “The system addresses the pilots proactively, makes suggestions and adapts to them and their situation. It is quite similar to a good human team member – a bit like a third pilot," Hasselberg adds.

The European Union contributed around 4.5 million euro to research on the A-PiMod project, which was carried out from September 2013 to August 2016. In addition to DLR, the research partners were Honeywell, Brno University of Technology, OFFIS e.V., Symbio Concepts and Projects, the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), KITE Solutions and Trinity College Dublin.

A-PiMod receives German Mobility Award

The project was recently honoured by the 'Germany – Land of Ideas' initiative and the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) as one of 10 outstanding digital innovations for safe mobility. The German member of parliament Dorothee Bär, Parliamentary State Secretary at the BMVI, and Ute Weiland, Managing Director of the 'Germany – Land of Ideas' initiative, presented the awards at the BMVI building in Berlin. Overall, 170 projects were submitted for consideration.

With the German Mobility Award, the 'Germany – Land of Ideas' initiative and BMVI intend to raise public awareness of smart mobility solutions and digital innovation. The following members of the 'Digital Networks and Mobility' platform at the Digital Summit support the German Mobility Award: Continental Automotive GmbH, Deutsche Bahn AG, Deutsche Telekom AG, Ericsson GmbH, Esri Deutschland GmbH, Huawei Technologies Deutschland GmbH and the Association of German Transport Companies (Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen; VDV).


Jasmin Begli

Corporate Communications Braunschweig, Cochstedt, Stade and Trauen
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Lilienthalplatz 7, 38108 Braunschweig
Tel: +49 531 295-2108

Dr Andreas Hasselberg

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
DLR Institute of Flight Guidance, Human Factors
DLR Institute of Flight Guidance