Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (TOP2-237)
Safe and efficient UAS operations at lower altitude airspace
To enable significant commercial use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) within lower altitude airspace and airspace that does not interfere with regular National Airspace System (NAS) operations, an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) system is required. Such UTM system needs to support flight route adjustments of UASs that are encountering conflicts. NASA Ames Research Center has developed a traffic management system for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) to maintain safe and efficient UAS operations. This novel technology can help provide solutions to these and other problems by implementing an Autonomous Situation Awareness Platform (ASAP) into UASs to allow them to autonomously resolve conflicts by UAS-to-UAS communications and onboard flight management systems, while maintaining integration with the National Airspace System. The technology enables the growth in civilian applications of UAS operations at lower altitudes by developing a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system. There are a number of applications of UAS which includes goods and services delivery in urban, difficult terrain and rural areas, imaging and surveillance for agricultural, and utility management.

The Technology
NASA Ames has developed an Autonomous Situational Awareness Platform system for a UAS (ASAP-U), a traffic management system to incorporate Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) into the National Airspace System. The Autonomous Situational Awareness Platform (ASAP) is a system that combines existing navigation technology (both aviation and maritime) with new procedures to safely integrate Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) with other airspace vehicles. It uses a module called ASAP-U, which includes a transmitter, receivers, and various links to other UAS systems. The module collects global positioning system GPS coordinates and time from a satellite antenna, and this data is fed to the UAS's flight management system for navigation. The ASAP-U module autonomously and continuously sends UAS information via a radio frequency (RF) antenna using Self-Organized Time Division Multiple Access (SOTDMA) to prevent signal overlap. It also receives ASAP data from other aircraft. In case of transmission overload, priority is given to closer aircraft. Additionally, the module can receive weather data, navigational aid data, terrain data, and updates to the UAS flight plan. The collected data is relayed to the flight management system, which includes various databases and a navigation computer to calculate necessary flight plan modifications based on regulations, right-of-way rules, terrain, and geofencing. Conflicts are checked against databases, and if none are found, the flight plan is implemented. If conflicts arise, modifications can be made. The ASAP-U module continuously receives and transmits data, including UAS data and data from other aircraft, to detect conflicts with other aircraft, terrain, weather, and geofencing. Based on this information, the flight management system determines the need for course adjustments and the flight control system executes them for a safe flight route.
UTM Vision
  • Incorporates Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) into the National Airspace System (NAS)
  • Provides UTM support in a geographically geo-fenced area on a continuous basis
  • UTM can be portable as-needed system or real-time continuous operation
  • Supports micro, small, and medium size UAS
  • Reliably provides communication, navigation, and surveillance below 10,000 ft.
  • Safe airspace operations by procedures and airspace design that keep UAS separated from other UAS and general aviation
  • Provides congestion management, route planning and rerouting, conflict avoidance, collision avoidance, terrain avoidance, obstacle avoidance, severe weather and wind avoidance services as needed based on needs of UASs operation and capability
  • Supports departure from and arrival into any location that is deemed safe
  • Supports operations at remote regions, and urban areas
  • Provides bi-directional communication mechanism

  • Wildfire mapping
  • Agriculture monitoring
  • Disaster management
  • Law enforcement
  • Telecommunication
  • Weather monitoring
  • Aerial imaging and mapping
  • Freight transport
  • Delivery of goods and services, like medical service delivery
  • Television news coverage, sporting events, movie making
  • Oil and gas exploration
Technology Details

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