NASA has developed a traffic management system for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) to maintain safe and efficient UAS operations. This novel 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 that includes goods and services delivery in urban, difficult terrain, and rural areas; imaging and surveillance for agriculture; and utility management. To enable significant commercial use of UASs within lower-altitude airspace and airspace that does not interfere with regular National Airspace System (NAS) operations, a UTM system is required. UTM is essential to enable accelerated applications of UASs. UTM will accommodate and support all types of UAS operations, ranging from disposable with minimalistic avionics capabilities, to highly capable UASs.
The UTM functions will include support for strategic as well as tactical operations. These functions include airspace design where altitudes are assigned based on direction of flight, and geofencing design and updates based on the need to avoid sensitive areas (e.g., noise-sensitive areas or high-value assets). It will provide surveillance of vehicles; weather and wind prediction, and integration with route and flow management; and congestion management, including constraint and obstacle management (e.g., terrain, tall natural and man-made structures). Other functions include demand and capacity imbalance management for crossing points, arrival, and departure phases; separation assurance; collision avoidance and recovery; and emergency landing site selection and landing, if needed. It provides the minimum requirements for unmanned systems to operate at the lower altitudes based on the systems’ performance characteristics in terms of weight, wake, and ability to operate with certain types of wind and weather.
This technology can be used as a portable as-needed system, or perform real-time continuous operation. It supports micro, small, and medium sized systems, and reliably provides communication, navigation, and surveillance below 10,000 ft. Potential applications include wildfire mapping, agriculture monitoring, disaster management, law enforcement, telecommunication, weather monitoring, aerial imaging and mapping, freight transport, delivery of goods and services (such as medical service delivery), television news coverage, sporting events, movie making, and oil and gas exploration.
NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact the Technology Partnerships Office at ARCTechTransfer@ mail.nasa.gov to initiate licensing discussions. Follow this link for more information: http://technology.nasa.gov/patent/TB2016/TOP2-237 .