Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management
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.