Aerospace and Defense Research Collaboratory

Displacement Mapping for Flight Simulator Using Next-Gen GPUs


Peter Wonka, Associate Professor, Computer Science, CIDSE, Arizona State University, and
John C. Femiani, Professor, Department of Engineering, Arizona State University, and
Anshuman Razdan, Associate Professor, Department of Engineering, Arizona State University
Science Foundation Arizona's Aerospace and Defense Initiative and Renaissance Science Corporation

Flight Simulators are important to prepare pilots. Flight simulators enable training with different scenarios at low cost. The goal of this project is to leverage the capabilities of new graphics processors (GPUs) to be able to use more detailed three-dimensional environments in the simulator.

The latest generation of graphics hardware (e.g. DirectX 11) has capabilities for displacement mapping that can generate detailed geometry on demand. As a result more geometry can be processed in shorter time with a smaller memory footprint. However, the technology is very novel and algorithms are missing to use the hardware to its potential.

The three main components of the project are: 1) Developing a displacement mapping algorithm for terrain and geo-typical terrain cover rendering. 2) Creating a test environment including a larger terrain and terrain cover (trees, bushes, buildings). 3) Development of a prototype application where a pilot can interactively navigate an airplane with mouse and keyboard on a PC.


ASU researchers will advance simulation capabilities of flight simulators and provide the foundation training for next generation pilots. Improved resolution will enhance the effectiveness of the training capability; commercial chips should reduce cost and improve availability of systems. The Navy has a need for this and already announced commitment for this project as part of SBIR funding to Renaissance Science Corporation.