Military Embedded Systems

UAS safety the focus of air trials by NASA and Reliable Robotics


April 25, 2023

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Photo courtesy Reliable Robotics.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. Aircraft-safety firm Reliable Robotics teamed with NASA to run flight tests aimed at substantiating the use of existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) primary surveillance radar (PSR) data to improve the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS), which the testers needed to better understand how existing radar infrastructure can be used for detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems for uncrewed aircraft systems (UASs).

In their joint report on the flight tests, Reliable Robotics and NASA detail how the testing team coordinated encounters of two Reliable Robotics aircraft in California while data was being collected by FAA ground-based radars as well as a commercial air-to-air radar. Data from these flights, according to the report, will enable NASA to analyze and characterize the accuracy of surveillance radars, which will be used to develop a comprehensive safety case for DAA systems that use existing PSR data.

According to information on the tests, Automatic Dependent-Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) technology will continue to play an important role in the safe integration of UASs in the NAS, but it requires that all aircraft install and operate certain equipment; having secure access to the FAA’s medium and long-range PSR network will expand these safety benefits and provide accurate position data on aircraft, even for those without ADS-B. The availability of high-quality PSR data in the cockpit, together with certified alerting and guidance features, will vastly improve situational awareness and prevent mid-air collisions, say Reliable Robotics officials.

Brad Snelling, Partner Chief Engineer for the AAM National Campaign at NASA, said of the flight tests: “These landmark flights will help the entire AAM [advanced air mobility] industry further their understanding and future use of PSR data to enhance aviation safety.”

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