The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently awarded a $1.6M contract that will advance unmanned traffic management (UTM) at the New York (NY) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site. The upgrades form part of the FAA’s initiative to perform vital drone integration safety work at federally-designated UAS test sites, and will include integration technologies such as sense and avoid capabilities and geofencing.
A team of five commercial companies, led by autonomous systems technology firm CAL Analytics, will develop and implement a contingency management platform (CMP) for unmanned aircraft integration. The companies will integrate and test their CMP technology to address specific safety and risk mitigation concerns for operating UAS in the national airspace at the NY UAS Test Site.
Validation testing will be managed by NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research), who manage operations at the Oneida County-owned New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport, one of just seven FAA-designated UAS test sites in the United States. The team will also take advantage of the state’s 50-mile UAS Corridor, which features radars and advanced technologies to facilitate advanced drone operations.
Dr. Sean Calhoun, Managing Director of CAL Analytics, said: “We’re excited to work directly with the FAA to bring together some of the most innovative companies in the industry to tackle operational safety in UTM. Validating a contingency management approach is a critical, but often overlooked, step to achieve routine commercial drone operations.”
Cyber-physical systems-of-systems, like UTM, rely on a multitude of data from various sources to make decisions, often with real-world safety implications. The CMP will offer important protection protocols and situational awareness, alerting operators of faults, failures, and severe weather to help ensure the safe flight of all unmanned aircraft.
The integrated CMP will combine:
- Monitoring and mitigation software from ResilienX
- Cybersecurity software provided by Assured Information Security (AIS)
- Situational awareness display systems from Kongsberg Geospatial
- Micro-weather services from TruWeather
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said: “This partnership further solidifies Oneida County’s UAS Test Site as the global leader in industry research and advancement. The unmanned traffic management corridor we have been establishing from Rome to Syracuse is laying the groundwork for the future of UAS deployment, performance, safety and delivery capabilities.”
Andy Thurling, chief technology officer at NUAIR, commented: “Having a reliable UTM health and monitoring function is a key element in the safe integration and commercialization of unmanned aircraft. CAL, ResilienX, and TruWeather continue to be integral partners of NUAIR and the New York UAS Test Site, and we look forward to advancing routine, commercial UAS operations utilizing this program.”
Andrew Carter, President and CTO of ResilienX, said: “Performance Authorizations, identified in v2 of the FAA’s UTM CONOPS will lead to scalable, routine commercial drone operations, a goal of the UAS corridor in New York. ResilienX is providing safety assurance though health monitoring and fault mitigation software to maintain a safe level of performance through encountered faults, failures or adverse conditions, enabling these complex ecosystems.”
Don Berchoff, CEO of TruWeather Solutions, who will deploy their dynamic platform that collects and presents real-time, predictive micro-weather analytics and insights, commented: “TruWeather is excited to build and demonstrate our weather hazard notification services. The CMP will monitor our scalable and agile TruFlite alert service to notify UTM providers and operators of emerging adverse conditions to alert specific drone types to take evasive action. The power of the service is other drones, not similarly impacted by the conditions, can continue flying.”
Scott Robidoux, chief operating officer at AIS, said: “AIS is thrilled to be a part of this FAA sponsored program in ensuring the cybersecurity of UTM, as a predicate for safe routine operations of UAS in the national air space. AIS is leveraging its industry leading capabilities to provide the necessary cybersecurity performance monitoring of the UTM as part of its overall health and integrity.”
Kongsberg Geospatial will deploy IRIS UxS, a real-time airspace visualization system for beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) mission management that allows a single operator to manage multiple aircraft. The system combines real-time data from a variety of sensors to create a real-time picture of the airspace where UAS are being operated.
Paige Cutland, Kongsberg vice president, stated: “For the past few years, we’ve been working on improving safety for BVLOS UAS missions through the development of IRIS UxS. The IRIS system is now actively deployed for a variety of long-range mission applications including drone delivery, pipeline inspection, and emergency airspace operations.”