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New ATC / AI interactions  

Postby durk » Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:36 am

Hi All,

thanks to the miserable weather in North Western Europe, and due to the fact that we are at the beginning of a new release cycle, I managed to fix the last remaining issues of my current AI/ATC work. Please note that this new code will not be part of FlightGear 2.4.0, but is scheduled for inclusion in 2.6.0, which should come out in early 2012. Unless you know how to build FlightGear for yourself, you need a snaphot (one that is from a later date then Sunday July 24, 2011). Although the current code is still a little rough, I believe that it shouldn't interfere with normal flightgear activities if you don't use it. The new code allows the user aircraft to interact with the AI traffic system. Currently, I have included support for requesting startup permission, as well as push-back and taxi clearance issues. I hope that I'm able, in the next 6 months, to fine tune and expand the current system. As an example of what is currently possible, you should be able to run the following sequence:

Start FlightGear using the following command line
fgfs --aircraft=747-400 --parkpos=G5 --airport=EHAM

(In the following, I am using the call sign "PH-DRK", the exact interactions may vary depending on time of day, aircraft, etc etc). The the AI system currently uses a few defaults that assume you want to do an IFR flight from your current airport to your current airport).

Press the apostrophe (') key. This will bring up the ATC Communication dialog box.

Press the "v" key to switch to external views.

Press the select the second entry on the dialog menu (by clicking it, or pressing the "2" key). This will toggle a graphical representation of the ground network routes, as they are currently programmed. You can activate or deactivate this ground network visibility to your own liking, but since EHAM has a relatively poor correspondence between the layout of the ground network and the current underlying terrain, we leave it on for now. ATC expects you to follow the ground network rather closely.

Okay, we're ready to go: Press the first option "1 PH-DRK Ready to Start up". This is just a pre-announcement. No further action is required. Once the message is processed, the contents of the ATC Dialog will be cleared.

Next: Request permission for start-up: select the message: "Schiphol-ground, This is PH-DRK. Position G5. Information delta. IFR to Schiphol. Request start-up".

ATC will respond by giving you startup clearance. Acknowledge your startup permission by selecting the message: "Schiphol-Ground. Startup-approved. delta correct, runway 24, Spijkerboor departure, squawk 4126. For push-back and taxi clearance call 121.80. PH-DRK".

Now, set the transponder to 4126, and set the standby comm frequency to 121.8, and execute the startup procedure.

Sign off from the startup procedure controller by selecting the message: "Switching to Schiphol-ground at 121.8.

Switch com1 selected frequency to 121.8 by switching active and standby frequencies.

Announce your position to the controller by selecting message "Schiphol-ground: PH-DRK, with you".

(the ground controller will acknowledge your request by saying "Roger")

Request push back clearance: Select "Schiphol-ground. Request push-back. PH-DRK".

(usually the ground controller wil acknowlegde your request: "PH-DRK, push-back approved, Schiphol-ground")

select the pushback vehicle: (Menu -> Boeing 747-400 -> pushback") and execute a push back. For better visual reference, use an external view. Steer the aircraft as closely as possible to the end of the push-back route. Once you get near, a new message will be selectable from the ATC Dialog, to announce you're ready for taxiing. Disconnect the push-back truck and announce you're ready to taxi. Select the "Schiphol-ground. Ready to Taxi. PH-DRK" message.

(ATC will give you taxi clearance). Acknowledge clearance by selecting the Message "Schiphol-ground. Cleared to Taxi. PH-DRK.".

Follow the indicated taxi route: If you have enabled the groundnetwork visualization: Just followed the red orange taper lines.

If you are lucky (on unlucky, depending on your point of view), there will be other traffic you need to interact with. Watch out for ATC "Hold position" instructions (NOTE that the latter possibly doesn't work with 100% reliability yet).

Please let me know if you run into any major issues. I tried catching the most obvious errors, but it's impossible to for see all possible contingencies. I'll try to fix any major issues as soon as possible.

cheers, and enjoy,
Durk
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby Johan G » Sun Jul 24, 2011 8:54 pm

Not being that knowledgeable in heavy air traffic and IFR procedures, I look at this with some thoughts:

durk wrote in Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:36 am:Next: Request permission for start-up: select the message: "Schiphol-ground, This is PH-DRK. Position G5. Information delta. IFR to Schiphol. Request start-up".

ATC will respond by giving you startup clearance. Acknowledge your startup permission by selecting the message: "Schiphol-Ground. Startup-approved. delta correct, runway 24, Spijkerboor departure, squawk 4126. For push-back and taxi clearance call 121.80. PH-DRK".

Would that indicate that one always have to adhere to IFR procedures and STARs / SIDs on approach / departure? While it of course is possible to read in on IFR and ATC procedures, how would one do if one intended to do an VFR only flight between two smaller airports? :wink:
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby durk » Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:05 pm

Johan G wrote in Sun Jul 24, 2011 8:54 pm:Would that indicate that one always have to adhere to IFR procedures and STARs / SIDs on approach / departure? While it of course is possible to read in on IFR and ATC procedures, how would one do if one intended to do an VFR only flight between two smaller airports? :wink:


I'm currently starting with IFR, because the strict procedures makes it easier to handle for a computer. Ultimately, I'd like to support VFR as well. While implementing the IFR stuff, I keep an eye open for possible future refinement. :-).

Cheers,
Durk
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby Johan G » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:56 pm

durk wrote in Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:05 pm:I'm currently starting with IFR, because the strict procedures makes it easier to handle for a computer.

Aah, now I'm with you. :wink: Go ahead! :D
Low-level flying — It's all fun and games till someone looses an engine. (Paraphrased from a YouTube video)
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby Upkeep » Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:38 pm

Dear Durk:

I am not sure whether this is related, but I have just updated GIT to 398 and then 399 (Jenkins) and I am getting a crash to desktop immediately after take-off, irrespective of the aircraft. It happens every time. The message in the console is the same: AI error: Updating aircraft without traffic record. This did not happen with the previous successful build 395. If this is the wrong place to post this, then I apologise but I thought it may be related as it seems an AI problem. Thanks

All the best

Upkeep.
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby durk » Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:30 pm

Hi,

Thanks for reporting. Can you give me a quick summary of your startup settings, so that I can try to replicate this? (Airport, runway how long / how far after take off?). IIRC, the error message "Updating aircraft without traffic record" is fairly harmless in this particular case, but will check that nevertheless. Also, which Operating System are you running?

Cheers,
Durk
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby Upkeep » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:07 pm

Thanks Durk for the very quick response.

Just tried it again with B777 at EGLL, Runway 09L. Engine start up OK, and then moves down runway as normal. About 10 secs later, crash to desktop. Aircraft does not leave runway. Console window shows new line: AI error: Updating aircraft without traffic record. Running Windows 7. AI disabled. Otherwise all other settings as usual. ATI graphics card. Hope this helps. All the best. Upkeep.
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby durk » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:28 pm

Thanks. I've just seen a report of a similar crash at the mailinglist, which I've been able to confirm. I haven't tried your spefic scenario, but I expect that it will also reliably result in a crash. I hope to find a solution tomorrow.

Thanks for testing!
Durk
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby Upkeep » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:12 pm

Dear Durk:

Thanks very much for your help. Much appreciated. Best wishes.Upkeep.
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby durk » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:37 am

Okay, this should be fixed now.

cheers,
Durk
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby Upkeep » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:35 am

Thanks a lot Durk for dealing with this so quickly. Just tried the new update and all works fine. Thanks again for your help.

Best wishes

Upkeep.
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby i4dnf » Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:15 pm

Played a bit with this feature this evening. I know it's work in progress and everything might be in a state of flux, but I'll add my experiences with it.

Started with a dhc2 parked at TNCM. First thing I noticed when I went to the radio settings dialog, the nearby atc services button doesn't work :(. Opened atc dialog.
Left radio settings in their existing config, that is COM1 on 0.0.
Made a flight plan in the route manager and activated it. As soon as I did that, the ATC dialog came to life. The exchanges with ATC worked rather well, up until the point when it handed me over to the TWR.Switched frequency and nothing. From there on, dead silence, and the ATC dialog remained "dead" too :(.
(LE: just reread for the N-th time the first post and realised this is normal)


Couple of glitches along the way:
-The ground network visualisation was offset _WAY_ up in the air (15m or so), and as I viewed it from below it was black.
-The ATC directed me to rwy 28, as filed with the route manager, but as soon as I reached the last waypoint the communication was about holding short on rwy 10 (probably the active runway).

Will test some more, on other airports, and with bigger planes, but so far it's shaping up really nice.. and contributes a lot to immersion.
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby durk » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:48 am

Hi, Thanks for your report. As mentioned, the current system is still in an early stage of development, so I'd be interested to hear about other people's experiences. Although I cannot guarantee that everything will be fixed in the order that the problems are reported, I will keep an eye open for new test scenarios (I'm currently using the EHAM parkpos B24 using a B1900D, as well as EHAM G5 using either the 747 or 777 as my main test cases).

Cheers,
Durk
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby i4dnf » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:25 am

As noted on the other thread, I'm using festival for TTS. That made me notice a couple of glitches. Some of the responses in the form "$callsign roger" are missing the space thus they come out "$callsignroger" which gets into the voice.cxx filter as a callsign, that will be spelled out.

Still on the TTS subject. AFAIK this supports different voice types, that are linked to the way that messages get displayed in FG.
Your text output gets picked up as AI-Plane irregardles where it comes from (Pilot or ATC). Would be nice to look into a way of marking the right source for the message.

I've done some other tests, on KLAX too. My main problem is the fact that the ground network is diplayed high up in the air. And that a reset may or might not reenable the atc service :(. Also a reaction to the repeat call would be nice to have :).
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Re: New ATC / AI interactions

Postby durk » Wed Aug 24, 2011 7:11 am

Hi all,

Please note that this message isn't specifically a reply to i4dnf, but more indented as a general message indicating how I am planning to proceed with the ATC/AI system. In general, I am more or less working on a constant refining of the system. At this stage, I have the general infrastructure for the AI traffic system working and I have started to work on integrating the user's aircraft into this system (if the user want's to make use of ATC that is). Each flight consists of 9 different phases: Pushback - Taxi - Takeoff - Climb - Cruise - Descent and Approach - Landing - Taxi - Parking. At this moment, I have AI based ATC controllers for Startup & (optional) Pushback, Taxi (Ground control), and Takeoff (the Tower controller). These currently work more or less, and I have made the Start-up and Ground controllers noticable to the user controlled aircraft. Also, the transition between Startup to ground as well as the handoff from ground to tower is currently implemented. My next move will obviously be that I'll work on enbling the transmission of radio transmissions from the tower controller, and working on the handoff between tower and the departure controller. In doing this, I have a number of milestones in mind, the specifics of which I'll probably add to this message at a later time. but, the first few milestones would be something like:

1). Enabling controllers for all stages of flight, and making sure the transistions between them work.
2). Honour data that is in the user aircraft's flight plan (currently I'm just using defaults).
3). Adding additional stages of flight: (go around, holding patterns, etc).
4). Enable the user to change his or her flight plans dynamically (choose alternate runways for departure / approach), change destination, change from VfR to IfR, etc etc.

More will follow later, but this is my general plan.

Cheers,
Durk
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