Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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47 unmanned systems inside October/November 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. The CU Ttwistor approaches a supercell thunderstorm. A tornado is visible from the clouds to the horizon just right of the aircraft nose. Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the university. He's also the project lead. Over the summer, Frew and his team spent three weeks testing advanced drone swarming technology at the Pawnee National Grassland near Greeley, Colorado. To do this they applied for, and received, the first approval granted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FA A) to conduct f lights with a single pilot manag- ing multiple aircraft. During the test f lights, the aircraft located moving radio beacons and then followed them. "The different aircraft reason about what they can sense, what their teammates can sense and the best thing to do individually with the awareness of the team's goal," Frew said. "Sometimes they do that decision mak- ing in a centralized way with a ground station that can reason about all vehicles. We've also done work where individual aircraft make their own decisions but (each) are aware of how those decisions help its teammates. The specifics depend on the scenario or the mis- sion, if they're providing a communication network, taking a picture of a target or using radio beacons to determine a location. Either way, the communication piece allows them to share their own information with each other. They're able to share what they measure and what they're doing." This type of swarming technology can be used for a variety of applications, Frew said, such as finding lost hikers and skiers, tracking wildlife more safely and more economically, and predicting severe storms, such as intense tornados. Test Flights During this summer's test flights, the team flew up to three fixed-wing aircraft at once to local- ize the position of radio beacons, Frew said. The drones had antennas with very narrow patterns FOR MORE on how different types of drone swarms are being used for various commercial applications as well as for entertainment, read Swarming the Skies at RELATED STORIES ONLINE " THE MORE AIRCRAFT YOU HAVE THE MORE DATA YOU CAN GET AND THE MORE AREA YOU CAN COVER—AND THEREFORE THE MORE LIKELY YOU ARE TO IMPROVE PREDICTIONS OF THESE STORMS." Adam Houston, associate professor of atmospheric science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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