As aviation technology has improved, commercial air traffic has increased significantly, requiring better airspace management techniques. In an attempt to develop better air capacity, safety, and flexibility, NASA’s Air Traffic Operations Laboratory (ATOL) used a massive simulation environment called Air and Traffic Operations Simulation (ATOS) to explore better techniques. As the project’s success lead to its growth, NASA required a licensing option that would be easily scalable in a simulation that is ever-expanding.
NASA originally needed a tool that could effectively communicate and maintain all the entities involved in its complex, multi-laboratory, simulation that includes 400+ workstation-based high-fidelity aircraft simulators networked together. The simulation would eventually demand a creative, flexible solution so that licensing restrictions would not hinder its development.
The MÄK Solution:
VT MÄK offers commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology to facilitate Air Traffic Management simulations, backed by a company with an “engineer down the hall” philosophy to help organizations creatively solve their implementation issues. The MÄK RTI has been used by ATOL for over a decade to enable their High Level Architecture (HLA) federations to rapidly and efficiently communicate the positioning and actions of entities in the ATOS simulation. It was also used to communicate with external laboratories at NASA LaRC, NASA Ames Research Center, FAA and other compliant facilities. As the simulation’s success led to the growth in the number of federates and labs involved in the simulation, NASA’s needs changed. The ATOL required a way to use unlimited instances of the MÄK RTI, and needed to do it in a way that would be cost-efficient. MÄK’s “engineer own the hall” philosophy played a big role in ensuring success, as we worked out a custom licensing model to meet their needs and ensure that MÄK would continue to play a role in the success of the ATOL.
We were able to reach Glover Barker of NASA Langley Research Center for comment: “At NASA Langley Research Center, we have used the MÄK RTI libraries since 2005. Our Airspace and Traffic Operations Simulation (ATOS) uses High Level Architecture (HLA), so we initially tried an open source HLA solution. But the quality and reliability were not adequate, so we purchased RTI from MÄK. MÄK's RTI implementation conforms well to HLA standards, so we could easily substitute MÄK RTI for the open source solution. We have been satisfied customers ever since.”
“MÄK has steadily improved their product in every new release. MÄK's technical support always responds quickly and helpfully when we have questions or problems. When needed, they have sent staff to our site to inspect our environment, and made recommendations to change our configuration. In the cases when we experienced a bug because of the unique way we used their software, MÄK has diligently provided fixes for our problems. When we needed a new licensing scheme to fit our usage model, MÄK delivered.”