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We are partnering up with the Belgian Air Force in the development of an innovation project around the use of Augmented Reality (AR) for Air Traffic Control (ATC). The goal is to develop a solution to alleviate the issues with the current operation of ATC officers and automate a part of their workflow.

In local air traffic control, ATC officers have to coordinate the movements of all aircraft that are in their assigned airspace. An important element to properly coordinate the traffic is to build up situational awareness. In this case, that means to create a 3D mental picture of the different aircraft, containing both their current and expected (projected) position. To do this, the officer mainly uses three tools: radar, radio and large binoculars. In addition to the inherent complexity of performing the required checks with each of these tools, this setup creates an inconvenient information loss when switching between these three tools.

Proposed system:
In this innovation project, we propose two main contributions, leveraging the latest advances in AR hardware and state-of-the-art cameras. The first is an AR application, displaying annotations with the data of surrounding aircraft in the user’s vision. This application is developed for the HoloLens 2, which allows placing virtual objects directly in the visual field of the user. The second contribution is a zoomed view using a pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera that detects and tracks a chosen aircraft to provide a zoomed-in view to the user.

Funded by the Royal Higher Institute for Defence, with support from the Belgian Air Component.

2020 – 2022

Rob Haelterman
Charles Hamesse


  • C. Hamesse, B. Pairet, R. Lahouli, T. Fréville and R. Haelterman, “Simulation of pan-tilt-zoom tracking for augmented reality air traffic control”, International Conference on 3D Immersion (IC3D) 2021.
  • C. Hamesse, R. Lahouli, T. Fréville, B. Pairet and R. Haelterman, “Training Machine Learning Algorithms for Computer Vision Tasks in Difficult Conditions: 3D Engines to the Rescue” Sci-Fi IT 2021.
  • C. Hamesse, J. Nelis, R. Haelterman and S. Lo Bue, “Lessons Learned and New Research Opportunities in Immersive Technologies for Defence Applications” Sci-Fi IT 2020.