BeyondATC, the upcoming air traffic control simulation product being developed by a team of the same name, has had a further development update video published showing off the new traffic injector system.
The team let us know in their last update that, owing to the complexity of issuing ATC instructions to AI-driven aircraft, it would be easier for the product to act as a traffic injector as a well as an ATC simulation. That way, every aircraft’s movement could be pre-determined by BeyondATC and instructions could then be issued which would be easily followed. Technically that would mean every AI aircraft is on rails, but because BeyondATC has control of those rails it makes the whole process of simulating the air traffic control environment a lot easier.
In the new video, we examine a rendition of Los Angeles KLAX Airport within a debug environment. The airport exists within the BeyondATC program as just a collection of points which represent intersections between aprons, stands, taxiways, runways and holding points. The program then draws lines between these points which represent the taxiing routes.
In order to establish how an aircraft should get from gate to runway while on the ground, and vice versa for arriving aircraft, the team explained how they will (in a programming sense) ask an aircraft to take the shortest possible route from any given stand on the apron to the runway. This process is repeated across every stand to produce something akin to a heatmap of the busiest outgoing taxiways, which were represented in the debug environment as green lines.
It was then demonstrated how, thanks to the complex logic which has now been coded into the program, departing traffic will prefer to take green routes and taxiways to get to the departure runway, while arriving traffic will avoid the green routes where it can to minimise conflicts.
Where there are conflicts with multiple aircraft wanting to take the same route, or arriving traffic needing to cross the path of a departure, the developers demonstrated that the planes in the debug environment will hold position to allow higher priority traffic to pass. Priority is determined by, among other things, how long an aircraft has been waiting to get to it’s destination, be that a gate or the runway. Crucially, the simmer will not get any sort of priority over the AI aircraft solely because they are a human, meaning that while you might face short delays on taxi, that adds to the overall immersion of the ATC environment.
We then got to see how planes in the debug environment can very easily be transposed into Microsoft Flight Simulator. An added benefit of doing the traffic injection in house as opposed to through MSFS is the massive performance benefit, which the team are very eager to point out. Even with more than forty aircraft on the ground at one stage, frames per second on the test computer used in the video remained around 90. This lead the spokesman on the video to claim he is confident that BeyondATC will not only be the best air-traffic control simulation on the market, but also the best traffic injector on the market.
No release date or target window has been identified by the team as the product stills looks to be very much in development. Among other things, the developers say they still need to get planes to take off, join the airway network, coordinate and talk to each other. They also need to add animations to the models that are injected as right now, for instance, the engine fan blades are not shown to be spinning while the plane is moving under its own power. Additionally, from my own viewing of the development update, the team still need to work on having planes get pushed out of their gates (right now they spawn facing the ramp and not the terminal) properly, as well as ensuring they give each other wingtip clearance when holding to allow other traffic to pass.