Friday, September 18, 2015
NASA Tests Detect-And-Avoid in UAS
NASA has successfully flight tested UAS detect-and-avoid technology using Ikhana, its MQ-9 Predator B fixed-wing drone. "Depending on the specific scenario, either Ikhana detected one or more approaching aircraft and sent an alert to its remote pilot to take action, or Ikhana itself took action on its own by flying a programmed maneuver to avoid a collision—an aviation first," said NASA on Wednesday. In the project's third phase, designated FT3, which would help integrate UAS into commercial aviation, the administration conducted 11 flight tests incorporating more than 200 scripted encounters with approaching aircraft. Ikhana—which NASA uses for Earth science missions and as a UAS technology test bed—was equipped with a prototype Detect-And-Avoid system incorporating three primary sensors: radar developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast developed by BAE Systems and a traffic collision avoidance system developed by Honeywell International. According to Dennis Hines, NASA's programs director at Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards, California, "We recorded some valuable data that will take some time to analyze fully, and we expect we'll need to make some minor refinements to our algorithms, but from what we saw during the tests, the results look promising."