Research Topics

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Automated vehicles
  • Autonomous systems
  • Cognitive
  • Command and control
  • Data analytics
  • Flight research - avionics
  • Flight testing
  • Human factors/ergonomics
  • Human simulation
  • Photonics/optical sensors
  • Sensors
  • UAV research
  • Wireless communication

The Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL) is a world-renowned flight test laboratory that conducts research on human-in-the-loop and intelligent autonomous systems to increase efficiency, inter-operability, and safety.

The lab has been in operation for 21 years with 2,400 hours of flight test and 305-plus projects. OPL has 11 instrumented aircraft (six manned, five unmanned) and six flight simulators. Systems of particular interest include flight decks, airborne sensor systems, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems, and automotive user interface systems. 

OPL resources and capabilities include the following:

  • Labs, shops, hangars, tooling, fixtures, instrumentation

  • Current USAF/AFRL Public Aircraft Operations (PAO)

  • Flight Test process for DoDD 5030.61/AWB-340 and GFR

  • Experienced flight testers and human factors professionals

  • Cognitive Assessment Tool Set (CATS)

  • Flying physiological episode assessment sensors: ECG, EEG, GSR, SpO2, respiration, temp, air quality, physiological shirts, eye tracking, etc.

Research Team

Tom Mach Schnell portrait

Tom Schnell, PhD

Associate Director, Iowa Technology Institute
Director, Operator Performance Laboratory
Captain Jim "Max" Gross Chair in Engineering

News

ACE at OPL

ITI and OPL welcome teams behind DARPA's ACE program to advance AI dogfighting capabilities

The University of Iowa’s Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL) hosted the quarterly integration meeting for DARPA's Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program to advance AI dogfighting capabilities at its hangar in Iowa City, Iowa.
NASA Earth

UI scientists to expand space-based research on campus through new P3 grant

Faculty members from the Iowa Technology Institute, a research arm of the College of Engineering (CoE), are contributing to a new space-based, interdisciplinary research enterprise designed to strengthen University of Iowa’s competitiveness for NASA funding for space missions and instruments.

Contact the Director

OPL Brochure

Legacy Website

VISIT OPL