Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2017 - JAN 2018

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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AIR INTEGRATION 28 unmanned systems inside   December 2017/January 2018 "A notice goes out through UTM that there's a distressed ship in the area," Hendrix said, describing the test. "The aircraft reroute to- gether and work collectively under the UTM structure to help find the distressed vessel. The other scenario was a missing child. We had someone role play and instructed them to keep moving. The aircraft was successful in locating the "child" four out of five times." All the test sites operated their missions then reported back to NASA's central reposi- tory. Instead of pilots being sent notifications from their ground con- trol station, the site handled that w ith a central location at the test range. This puts a layer of control between the operators and the UTM, so that they only receive notif ications they need to act on. In another test, the UAS had to react to intruder aircraft, with communications com- ing from ground con- trol saying they had to adjust their f light plan. They also simulated a disaster survey mission. The aircraft received notifications to inspect damage in a certain area—which is exactly what the team did during later recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey. The next mission, TCL3, will be even more complex and will introduce active sensors, Hendrix said. Researchers did put an active radar on one of the aircraft during the last test, which allowed the drone to accurately survey the area and was one of the ways it identified an intruder, but the next set of tests will be much more detailed. He said they'll complete f lights with the on-board radar fully inte- grated with the terrestrial command and con- trol structure in about 15 different scenarios. Larry Brinker, executive director, NUAIR "UNTIL THE PUBLIC ACCEPTS THE FACT THAT UAS CAN BE OPERATED SAFELY AND EFFICIENTLY, DOMINOS WILL EVER BE ABLE TO DELIVER A PIZZA WITH A UAS, AND AMAZON WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO DELIVER A PACKAGE. WE HAVE TEST SITES TO PROVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO BE SAFE, AND THAT ADVANCES THE BALL DOWN THE FIELD WHEN IT COMES TO THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF UAS." Hendrix recently completed the first draft of the first test plan, and expects f lights to get underway in 2018. The site is also working with NASA to f lesh out the requirements for a UTM Service Supplier, or USS. This approach gives opera- tors the ability to interface with a system that's specific to their use case, such as delivery and disaster response. This model will plug into the NASA UTM system. There are a variety of risks involved in BVLOS operations and colliding with other aircraft is one of them. The UTM system is designed to avoid such accidents and will help make it safer for operators to perform BVLOS missions—a vital capability no matter where or how far the aircraft is f lying. "So what do you do to allow permission to operate BVLOS? It gets down to what would mitigate risk so you can have safe operations," Hendrix said. "And safe operations have to be equivalent to (the current safety levels of) manned f light." Getting to BVLOS It could be several years before BVLOS drone f lights become routine, but the test sites are doing their part to help move that along. NASA's UTM technology must complete all four phases of development before BVLOS can be fully enabled. Beyond that, the detect and avoid requirement won't be put into place until 2020, Flom said, and that standard is necessary for manufacturers to build their equipment. "It's a catch 22," Flom said. "We don't neces- sarily have the technology all the way there and we don't have the standards fully developed yet for companies to be able to develop their own technology." The test sites will continue to work with the FAA and other partners to advance the neces- sary technology, which will one day lead to a world where f lying drones BVLOS for pipeline inspections, surveying of railroads and even delivery are the norm.

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