The Panoramic Asset Tracking of Real-time Information for the Ouija Tabletop (PATRIOT) team from Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst (NAWCAD LKE) won the FY22 Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) Outstanding Project Award for Basic and Applied Research during a ceremony March 23.

The PATRIOT team was selected out of 81 total Basic and Applied Research projects in the NISE portfolio from across NAWCAD for fiscal year 2022.

PATRIOT uses cameras and artificial intelligence to auto-populate a ship’s ouija board, which identifies planes and helicopters on the deck of an aircraft carrier. For many years, the board used physical pieces to identify aircraft locations with the help of Sailors positioned around the ship. However, PATRIOT and other technological advances like the Aviation Data Management and Control System (ADMACS) could revolutionize aircraft tracking on the flight deck.

Over the past year, the team, under the direction of Science & Technology Artificial Intelligence Lead Ari Goodman, tested the technology in more complex scenarios, including using more aircraft and rotorcraft varieties, aircraft configurations, and different visual environments.
“The PATRIOT team is another example of the critical, forward-thinking work done here at Lakehurst to support our warfighters,” said Kathleen P. Donnelly, NAWCAD LKE executive director. “As we work to ensure the safety and efficiency of our deployed Sailors and Marines, PATRIOT is another tool to bolster that effort and benefit the fleet.” Mark Husni, the Science and Technology lead at NAWCAD Lakehurst, said the project could improve a critical mission readiness issue for the fleet.

“For years, we’ve had to do this manually. You stick a kid up high in vulture’s row, and he or she is looking at the flight deck. During the days of plastic templates on ouija boards, they were radioing the aircraft positions,” Husni said. “Now we have ADMACS, so there’s a flat panel display, but we’re still manually pushing around templates. It’s hard to keep up because multiple aircraft are moving around, and it’s a very dynamic environment.”

Goodman said the short-term benefit of a system like PATRIOT is freeing up time for the Sailors to do other tasks on the ship. But he said there could be long-term implications as well.

“It would enable multiple logistical optimization and data-collecting capabilities,” Goodman said. “If you have PATRIOT looking at the flight deck where all support equipment and aircraft are in real-time and logging that, you’d be able to know what any real bottlenecks are in terms of sortie rates and have that data to back it up.”

Husni said it was “heartening” to see the PATRIOT program make as much progress as they have, showing a compelling proof of concept that can help bring the technology closer to reality. Goodman said he appreciated his team’s work, and noted that many people in various fields contributed to the system’s development.