NASA Flying Automated Drones for Air Taxi Research – NASA

Researchers at NASAs Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia recently flew several drones beyond visual line of sight without a visual observer. The drones successfully flew around obstacles and each other during takeoff, on a planned route, and on landing, all autonomously without a pilot controlling the flight.

Researchers at NASAs Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia recently flew several drones beyond visual line of sight without a visual observer. The drones successfully flew around obstacles and each other during takeoff, on a planned route, and on landing, all autonomously without a pilot controlling the flight. This test marks an important step towards the development of self-flying capabilities of air taxis.

Flying vehicles beyond visual line of sight, where neither the vehicle nor the air is monitored using direct human observation, reflects years of research into automation and safety systems, and requires specific permission from the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA to complete, said Lou Glaab, branch head for the aeronautics systems engineering branch at NASA Langley.

It is safer and more cost-effective to test self-flying technology for larger, passenger-carrying air taxis with smaller drones to observe how they avoid each other and other obstacles.

NASA is also testing elements of automation technology using helicopters. These stand-in aircraft will help NASA mature autonomously well before self-flying air taxis take to the skies.

If you have many vehicles, all from a vertiport located next to an airport or deep within a community, we need to ensure that the automation technologies of these vehicles are capable of safe handling a high volume of air traffic in a busy. area, said Glaab.

Building on previous tests, the team successfully made several flights using the purchased ALTA 8 Uncrewed Aircraft Systems, also known as drones, without a visual observer and flying the drones beyond the visual line of sight, called NOVO-BVLOS flights.

The software loaded on the small drones performs aerial communications, flight path management, avoiding other vehicles, and many other skills needed to operate in a busy airspace. This is necessary for what is envisioned in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), where drones and air taxis will operate at the same time on a regular basis.

The flight tests were observed from NASA Langleys Remote Operations for Autonomous Missions control center as the drones took off and landed at the City Environment for Testing Autonomous Integrated Navigation test range.

NASA will transfer the new technology developed in this project to the public to ensure that industrial manufacturers can access the software while designing their vehicles.

NASA’s ability to transfer these technologies will greatly benefit industry, said Jake Schaefer, flight operations lead for the project. By conducting flight tests within the national airspace, near airports and an urban environment, we have a table to test technologies and methods in a controlled but relevant environment for future generations. AAM vehicles.

One of these technologies is ICAROURS, which stands for NASAs Integrated Configurable Architecture for Reliable Operations of Unmanned Systems. This software provides an autonomous detect-and-avoid function and is part of the overall system to maintain clear from other air traffic.

Another technology used is NASAs Safe2Ditch system, which allows the vehicle to observe the ground below and make an autonomous decision on the safest place to land in case of a flight emergency.

NASA’s AAM mission has several projects contributing to various research areas. This project, called High Density Vertiplex, is specifically focused on testing and evaluating where these future vehicles will take off and land at high frequencies, called vertiports, or vertiplexes, for multiple vertiports that close to each other, and the technological advances required to make it possible. successful.

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Image Source : www.nasa.gov

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