Carnegie Mellon Receives $1.5 Million From Lockheed Martin To Develop Mobile, Wearable Computer Systems For Aircraft Maintenance And Repair

November 20, 1997

PITTSBURGH--Carnegie Mellon University researchers have received $1.5 million from Lockheed Martin Information Systems (Orlando, Fla.) to act as subcontractors in developing mobile, wearable computer systems that will give aircraft mechanics and technicians fast, easy access to maintenance and repair information.

The grant is part of a larger funding package Lockheed Martin received from the U.S. Air Force's Armstrong Laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

The project is aimed at helping the Air Force cut the time and cost of planes going in and out of repair depots where total overhauls are periodically done to keep five- to 30-year-old planes ready for activities like Operation Desert Storm.

Carnegie Mellon researchers received the funding based on expertise they've developed during more than four years of work in vehicular maintenance, mobile computing and user-centered system development.

In addition to working with the Air Force's three national depot maintenance facilities in Georgia, Oklahoma and Utah, the researchers are collaborating with personnel at the 911 Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve Command at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station. They will develop new systems on C-130 transport planes housed at the base. In the past, the 911th's Avionics Maintenance Section has supported Carnegie Mellon researchers in the design and testing of prototypes to improve information access for C-130 avionics specialists.

"We can save the government money because of our proximity to the 911th Airlift Wing," said principal investigator Richard L. "Dick" Martin, a senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. "We also will have more frequent access to aircraft maintenance personnel and get their feedback as we design systems. We can easily test our systems here before we take them to other Air Force bases. The cooperation and support we are receiving from Senior Master Sgt. Julian Savage, chief of avionics, and other 911th officials is invaluable."

"We at the 911th Airlift Wing consider it an honor to be working with Carnegie Mellon University in the development of these advanced maintanance system concepts and technologies," Senior Master Sgt. Savage said.

"Mobile and wearable computers will enable maintenance people to access information from distant points and have it right in front of their eyes while they are on the airplane diagnosing a problem or doing a difficult repair job," explained co-researcher Jane Siegel, a senior systems scientist in the university's Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

"At this time," she said, "there are no mobile information systems available for people working on the planes. The Carnegie Mellon team working with the 911th Air Wing will bring small, wearable computer technologies to the maintenance works and link them to remote expert helpers, planners and schedulers so they can get the assistance, parts and technical information they need."

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