Inside Unmanned Systems

APR-MAY 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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24 April/May 2018 unmanned systems inside SPECIAL REPORT NASA TECHNOLOGY Photos courtesy of NASA. Langley has been granting 15 to 30 licenses annually, some of which can take as little as four weeks to complete. The center has an SBIR / STTR (Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer) pro- gram through which qualifying com- panies might win government grants or contracts. Finally, Langley can offer firms access to the researchers to help them get started. "We'll often, very often, hook up in- ventors with the licensees and they can have a one hour phone conversation," Viudez said. "Sometimes we have li- censees actually come to our center and go to the lab and spend the day in the lab with the inventor—something along those lines to help them out. (For) anything that's kind of past a very short period of time the licensee can also enter into what's called the Space Act Agreement, and a Space Agreement is just a document that allows NASA to partner with outside entities." Shams will be working with a firm that has licensed the infrasound technology to tackle the issue of air turbulence. Under their Space Act Agreement, NASA will be able to pro- vide engineering and technical support to the company on a reimbursable basis. "We can help them," Shams said, "un- til they are really expert and they feel that, 'Yeah, now they can handle every- thing.' Whatever they need to diversify, to commercialize this technology." SAFEGUARD One technology UAS firms may be in- terested in exploring is Safeguard, a certified and secure system for enforc- ing geofences—borders marking no-fly zones around areas like government facilities and stay-in areas of operation. Geofences are one option for ad- dressing broad concerns about securi- ty that have become a central issue for the unmanned industry. Worries about nefarious actors are hamstringing progress toward allowing f lights over people and beyond visual line of sight. There are also the concerns about un- informed pilots operating in off-limits areas or accidents where, for example, a lost communications link results in a f lyaway drone—as reportedly hap- pened when a small quadcopter landed on the White House lawn in 2015. To prevent such problems Safeguard incorporates a number of fail-safes. First, the system operates indepen- dently of the rest of the unmanned air- craft, including having its own hard- ware. This addresses any potential glitches in either the UAS' systems or f light software. "We essentially separate the hard- ware such that if there's any sort of failure on the autopilot, whether it be hardware or software, our system can still perform its intended action prop- erly," said Evan Dill, a Langley research associate on the team that developed Safeguard. By not relying solely on GPS or other satellite navigation constellations (col- lectively called GNSS) to determine its position, the system also avoids being spoofed or hampered by GNSS signal problems caused by, for example, jam- mers or sunspots. "So if you have another positioning system available to you, whether that be some sort of vision system or a local positioning system—anything that you have available to you—you can use that in conjunction with GNSS," Dill said. The Safeguard sof tware is also especially robust. "A lot of our core NASA Technology Transfer Websites NASA technology.nasa.gov/ Ames Research Center technology-arc.ndc.nasa.gov/ Armstrong Flight Research Center technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/ Glenn Research Center technology.grc.nasa.gov/ Goddard Space Flight Center technology-gsfc.ndc.nasa.gov/ Jet Propulsion Laboratory nsta.jpl.nasa.gov/dep-technology-transfer Langley Research Center technologygateway.nasa.gov/ Kennedy Space Center technology-ksc.ndc.nasa.gov/ Marshall Space Flight Center techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/ Stennis Space Center technology-ssc.ndc.nasa.gov/ Evan Dill with a Safeguard-equipped drone.

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