NASA began outreach efforts for the upcoming Systems Integration and Operationalization (SIO) demonstration in 2020 at a panel discussion at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Xponential, All Things Unmanned conference in Chicago from April 30 through May 2.
SIO is a partnership between NASA and industry partners with the goal of accelerating routine Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations into the National Airspace System (NAS). The three partners, Bell, General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems, Inc., and PAE ISR will perform flight demonstrations at altitudes above 500 feet during the summer of 2020.
Jonathan Neptune, General Atomics-ASI project engineer, Richard Brasel, PAE ISR business development executive, and Jennifer Andrews, Bell project engineer comprised the panel. Kurt Swieringa, the SIO technical manager from NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia, served as the panel moderator.
Panelists discussed their visions for future commercial UAS operations and plans for flight demonstrations in the NAS, which will highlight commercial UAS missions that have the potential to provide economic and public benefit.
General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned aircraft.
General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned aircraft.
Credits: Phtoto Courtesy of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
The flight demonstrations are expected to include UAS with integrated Detect and Avoid (DAA) and Command and Control (C2) systems, which are two key technologies required for safe operations. DAA systems are designed to enable unmanned aircraft to detect other air traffic and determine maneuvers to keep it a safe distance, reducing the probability of collisions and ensuring safe operations. C2 systems provide robust communications between a remote pilot and the unmanned aircraft.
The unmanned aircraft, and flight demonstrations that wil be conducted under SIO, represent a range of different operational environments, missions and UAS characteristics Bell, formerly Bell Helicopters, is set to perform a flight demonstration that emulates providing critical medical transport such as moving blood or tissue samples in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas. The flight demonstration will use Bell’s all-electric Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) 70 unmanned aircraft that has a wingspan of 9 feet and a maximum takeoff weight of 300 pounds.
PAE ISR Resolute Eagle unmanned aircraft.