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Simulation and flight test capability for testing prototype sense and avoid system elements

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4 Author(s)
Howell, C.T. ; NASA Langley Res. Center, Hampton, VA, USA ; Stock, T.M. ; Wehner, P.J. ; Verstynen, H.A.

NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) and The MITRE Corporation (MITRE) have developed - and successfully demonstrated - an integrated simulation-to-flight capability for evaluating sense and avoid (SAA) system elements. This integrated capability consists of a MITRE developed fast-time computer simulation for evaluating SAA algorithms, and a NASA LaRC surrogate unmanned aircraft system (UAS) equipped to support hardware and software in-the-loop evaluation of SAA system elements (e.g., algorithms, sensors, architecture, communications, autonomous systems), concepts, and procedures. The fast-time computer simulation subjects algorithms to simulated flight encounters/ conditions and generates a fitness report that records strengths, weaknesses, and overall performance. Reviewed algorithms (and their fitness report) are then transferred to NASA LaRC where additional (joint) airworthiness evaluations are performed on the candidate SAA system-element configurations, concepts, and/or procedures of interest; software and hardware components are integrated into the Surrogate UAS' research systems; and flight safety and mission planning activities are completed. Onboard the Surrogate UAS, candidate SAA system element configurations, concepts, and/or procedures are subjected to flight evaluations and in-flight performance is monitored. The Surrogate UAS, which can be controlled remotely via generic Ground Station uplink or automatically via onboard systems, operates with a NASA Safety Pilot/Pilot in Command onboard to permit safe operations in mixed airspace with manned aircraft. An end-to-end demonstration of a typical application of the capability was performed in non-exclusionary airspace in October 2011; additional research, development, flight testing, and evaluation efforts using this integrated capability are planned throughout fiscal year 2012 and 2013.

Published in:

Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC), 2012 IEEE/AIAA 31st

Date of Conference:

14-18 Oct. 2012