Real-time piloted simulation using rotorcraft comprehensive analysis with a virtual reality interface

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Shridharan, A.
Moy, D.
Rubenstein, G.
Avera, M.
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The physics engines for pilot-in-the-loop helicopter simulators have traditionally been realized through successive stages of model simplification to achieve real-time execution speeds. In this paper, another approach is presented, where modern parallel computing paradigms are used to accelerate a high-fidelity rotorcraft comprehensive analysis using OpenMP and CUDA-Fortran to real-time speeds, without loss of accuracy. The elastic flap-lag-torsion rotor dynamics, flight mechanics, and the free wake model have been preserved in their original form without any simplifying assumptions. Such simulations are particularly relevant for slowed-rotor configurations that operate at high advance ratios, where legacy simulation techniques may not yield representative flight characteristics. The coupled blade dynamics and flight mechanics can be executed at speeds 90_ faster than the baseline implementation through a combination of algorithmic acceleration techniques and parallel computing. Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) computing is also leveraged to achieve 31 x faster simulations, crossing the threshold to qualify as real-time. For visualization, a virtual reality (VR) compatible pilot interface is integrated into an open-source framework that allows for modularity in choice of flight dynamics model and user interface.