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.


Bathtub Sim

The New Yorker highlights OPL contributions to AI fighter pilot research

Friday, January 21, 2022
The University of Iowa Technology Institute's Operator Performance Laboratory is featured in the New Yorker article "The Rise of A.I. Fighter Pilots: Artificial intelligence is being taught to fly warplanes. Can the technology be trusted?"
OPL Ceremony Highland

University of Iowa experimental test pilot, graduate research assistant promoted to Lieutenant Colonel

Friday, January 21, 2022
University of Iowa Technology Institute
The U.S. Air Force has promoted a University of Iowa Technology Institute (ITI) graduate research assistant to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, an accomplishment recognized in a ceremony at ITI’s Operator Performance Lab (OPL) in December. 

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