ALEXANDRIA, Va., 29 April 2016. Engineers atModern Technology Solutions Inc. (MTSI), PrecisionHawk, and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi finished testing current unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and air traffic management (ATM) technologies to help enable the safe integration of unmanned aircraft, also known as drones, into the National Airspace System (NAS) alongside manned aircraft.
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Borders and Maritime Security Division funded and managed the air traffic management demonstration and integration. The goal was to assess the effectiveness of available small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) technologies at providing cloud-processed sUAS position reporting and crowd-based aircraft data sourcing.
Multi-aircraft testing included PrecisionHawk’s Low Altitude Traffic and Airspace Safety (LATAS) platform at the small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) test site in Port Mansfield, Texas. Testing over a two-week period included four unmanned aircraft and two manned aircraft demonstrating ATM technologies designed to enhance pilot situational awareness in a total of 38 flown missions.
“Essential to these tests was the employment of cloud-processed cellular 4G-LTE position reports integrated in to a single airspace picture with crowd based ADS-B and airspace and traffic data,” says MTSI Senior Engineer Paul Evans. “Bringing these data pieces together for situational awareness purposes, in a live web application environment, allowed MTSI to assess the potential utility and scalability for future cooperative sUAS and manned aircraft operations. Further, it provided the opportunity to compare LATAS to traditional cooperative position reporting methods.”
Aircraft position reports -- GPS, ADS-B, and IFF Mode C -- were presented in real time through the LATAS web application, which alerted the sUAS pilots of approaching air traffic and any risk of entering geo-fenced restricted air space.
“This technology assessment further validates that there are effective solutions for entities, like the Department of Homeland Security, to safely operate manned and unmanned aircraft in a shared airspace today,” says Tyler Collins, vice president of LATAS at PrecisionHawk. “We believe that by pulling together and testing multiple layers of technology, we have the foundation for enabling wide spread drone integration in a real world setting in the very near future.”
MTSI is an employee-owned engineering services and technology solutions company delivering first-choice capabilities to solve problems of global importance in the critical mission areas of missile defense, cyber security, intelligence, unmanned/autonomous systems, aviation, space, and homeland security. MTSI’s mission is to make important and lasting contributions to the nation’s defense and security by providing leadership and best-value solutions to solve America’s most technically challenging strategic problems. Founded in 1993, MTSI today has over 650 employees, based at 20 offices and field sites worldwide.
PrecisionHawk is a terrestrial data acquisition and analysis company founded in 2010. The company provides an end-to-end solution using UAVs for data collection and analysis software tools to provide better business intelligence to clients across a wide range of civilian industries. PrecisionHawk also owns drone data software, DataMapper, satellite imagery provider, Terraserver, and the Low Altitude Traffic and Airspace Safety platform for drones, LATAS. A privately held company based in Raleigh, N.C., and Toronto, Canada, PrecisionHawk’s investors include Intel Capital, Millennium Technology Value Partners, and the Indiana University’s Innovate Indiana Fund.
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