[Avionics Today February 12, 2014] Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) during a recent flight test were able to successfully use a Scan Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to sense and avoid an approaching Cessna aircraft.
Insitu Scan Eagle UAS. Photo, courtesy of Boeing.
The flight test was performed as part of QUT's Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) in collaboration with Boeing Research & Technology - Australia (BR&T-A) and Insitu Pacific.
The Scan Eagle was equipped with sense and avoid technology developed at QUT that had previously been tested onboard a Cessna light aircraft several years ago, says Duncan Campbell, a QUT professor and director of ARCAA.
"Project ResQu, a two-year project funded by the Queensland Government, QUT, CSIRO, BR&T-A and Insitu Pacific, aims to fast-track the development of smart technologies that will enable unmanned aircraft to fly safely in the civil airspace," said Campbell, in a statement on QUT's website.
During the flight test, the Scan Eagle was able to visually identify a possible collision with a Cessna aircraft and sent a warning to the ground-based operators letting them know action was required. Although the operators manually steered the Scan Eagle away from the manned aircraft, the researchers believe that future UAS equipped with the system will be able to avoid collisions autonomously.
"We have achieved a big step on the road to a viable detect and avoid system here," said Campbell.