US Navy Demonstrates New Aircraft Tracking Capability Using QR Codes

The US Navy has validated a new tagging technology to manage aircraft on flight lines.

The tagging system uses QR codes and is processed by artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify and track each plane at a site.

The software was developed by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst Digital Engineering team and uses a fixed camera that autonomously feeds and registers aircraft taxi information.

During a recent trial, the US Naval Test Pilot School and NAWCAD Rapid Prototyping, Experimentation, and Demonstration (RPED) team operated the system to track T-6 Texan and T-38 Talon aircraft.

Leveraging 5G Technology

According to the US Navy, the tagging demonstration builds on a 5G identification of support equipment system experimentation (5GISE) held in January 2022.

5GISE uses GPS to mark the location of flight line assets for easier support access and improved logistics efficiency across naval aviation operations.

“After completing 5GISE, the engineers studied the current aircraft tracking method for departures and arrivals and devised a new approach,” NAWCAD Lakehurst Chief Engineer Kevin Larkins stated.

Engineers from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division apply a fiducial tag aboard a T-6 Texan to autonomously capture arrival and departure data during ground operations in an experiment at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland in 2022. (U.S. Navy photo)
5GISE feed showing flight line asset locations. Photo: US Navy

Aircraft Tagging in Future Applications

Once implemented, the 5GISE and the new tagging approach will decrease turnaround timelines for naval air fleet maintenance, enhancing its readiness.

“Tagging information can be integrated into other aspects of the flight line of the future, or maintenance and operations,” the US Navy said.

“NAWCAD RPED’s future concept involves integrating this technology into a user interface for previously experimented technologies such as a next-generation flight line tracking system.”

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