Engineers present unmanned aircraft sense-and-avoid, integrated modular avionics R&D, flight test results at Avionics Europe

Predator UAV 8 Jan 2012

MUNICH, 21 Feb. 2013. It is not easier to certify avionics on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) than on manned aircraft, affirms Dr. Emanuel Braemer, head of technology, Aerosystems Division, ESG Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH in Germany.

Just because a human is not in danger, given that an unmanned aerial vehicle carries neither pilots nor passengers, the certification of unmanned aircraft avionics and systems is not easier than the certification process associated with manned platforms, Braemer explained during his talk in the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS, UAV, RPAS) session at Avionics Europe in Munich. “The reason is the certification authorities come from a manned aircraft background,” he mentions.

Engineers from Cranfield University, ESG, and Rockwell Collins presented the latest research-and-development and flight testing results to an audience of aerospace engineers, systems integrators, and executives at the Avionics Europe 2013 conference today.

“Avionics systems remain complex,” Braemer says. “The performance of today’s system architectures won’t keep pace with the increasing complexity of modern avionic systems. The increasing computing power, combined with concurrently decreasing costs, allows the integration of applications on generalized hardware resources being similarly used on civil and military aircraft.”

Research efforts are underway to define the safety thresholds and develop policies, procedures, and systems that would make routine UAS access to airspace a reality, admits Roberto Sabatini of Cranfield University ( “Securing a sense and avoid (SAA) capability is a paramount need.”

To that end, Cranfield researchers are working on an SAA system that generates 3D maneuvers for avoidance, generates safe and efficient (green) trajectories, and complies with established requirements using relatively low-cost and low-weight/volume sensors, Sabatini explains.

Top-level SAA functions include:

-          Detect – determine the presence of objects that may represent a collision hazard

-          Track – estimate position and velocity of detected objects based on different surveillance methods/reports

-          Evaluate – determine risk of collision

-          Prioritize – collision risk threshold

-          Declare – Boolean decision-making process

-          Determine action – avoidance trajectories generation

-          Command – avoidance trajectory communication

-          Execute – maneuver execution, history function, return to path



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