OKLAHOMA CITY – Vigilant Aerospace has completed beyond line-of-sight flight testing of its new FlightHorizon detect-and-avoid collision avoidance system for unmanned aircraft at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.
The tests demonstrated the system’s ability to provide beyond line-of-sight flight safety for both small and mid-sized unmanned aircraft to help comply with FAA regulations and integrate drones into the national airspace, company officials report.
The flights tested the system’s detect-and-avoid (DAA) algorithms, hardware integration and user interface performance and included nearly 100 scripted encounters between unmanned aircraft under realistic flight conditions.
The system successfully detected and tracked intruder aircraft and provided traffic alerts and collision warnings on 100% of air traffic during the encounters.
According to company officials, 18 different scenarios were flown multiple times using two DJI Phantom 4 drones with one aircraft acting as the primary ship while the other acted as an intruder aircraft. The scenarios triggered the system’s traffic alerts, threat alerts and collision warnings, allowing the drone pilots to avoid collisions between the aircraft.
The encounters included beyond line-of-sight flights that simulated real-world scenarios in which visual detection of approaching aircraft by ground-based unmanned pilots might not be possible due to distance, weather, altitude and speed.
The tests were observed by the FAA’s senior UAV regulator, by an FCC observer to monitor radio transmissions, and were the culmination of a multi-month program of development, safety planning and test preparation, concluding in December 2016.
Vigilant Aerospace has licensed the NASA patent and software that forms the basis for the company’s FlightHorizon product, which was invented by Dr. Ricardo Arteaga at NASA Armstrong.
An advantage of the FlightHorizon system is that it utilizes off-the-shelf hardware, uses the existing national air-traffic control system, and can be used on both smaller and larger UAVs, company officials note.
The detect-and-avoid system is an important part of the effort to integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace and to make beyond line-of-sight drones safe to share airspace with manned aircraft.
FlightHorizon is designed to comply with FAA drone regulations on beyond line-of-sight flight, night flying and airspace authorization including Part 107.200 waiver requirements and RTCA SC-228 operating standards.
All transponder data was logged in FlightHorizon and is being used by NASA and Vigilant Aerospace to continue to improve and add new features to the system.
Vigilant Aerospace says
The DAA system licensed from NASA Armstrong includes algorithms and software implementing
aviation best practices to detect, track and avoid manned aircraft with a recursive de-confliction process and well-clear determination.
These recent NASA tests used ADS-B transponders on-board the drones and a ground-based ADS-B dual-band receiver on a laptop to track the drones and record the alerts and warnings.
This system is designed for the drone pilot and is intended to make the drone do the detect-and-avoid process, not the manned aircraft.
This system is intended for cooperative DAA. We are also considering appropriate micro-radars to add to the system in order to provide non-cooperative DAA inside the same system and interface.
There is much more info and explanatory videos at our website.
Thanks for the questions and comments.
– Vigilant Aerospace Systems
No where in the article does it say how they detect and avoid, or what they detect and avoid. Can they detect and avoid an electric free Cub? Are they detecting transponders? Are they detecting ADS-B? Will they broadcast ADS-B Out so we can detect and avoid these flight hazards? Take a look at the drone operating areas across the country on SkyVector some time. These things are a hazard!
Let’s put some real meat in the article so we know what these guys are actually doing. Printing their press release about these guys beating their drum stating they were 100% successful without saying what they actually accomplished is useless. How about some real reporting guys?
Detect and avoid is useless. We need these drones need to have ADS-B so THEY can automatically steer clear of other aircraft. We in larger planes will NOT be able to avoid these small things as they are far too small and quick turning. They are worse than a bird hazard at present.