Enhanced Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) Autonomy for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
Navy SBIR 2012.1 - Topic N121-089
ONR - Ms. Tracy Frost - email@example.com
Opens: December 12, 2011 - Closes: January 11, 2012
N121-089 TITLE: Enhanced Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) Autonomy for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Air Platform, Information Systems, Electronics
ACQUISITION PROGRAM: FNC FNT-FY10-02: Actionable Intelligence Enabled by Persistent Surveillance
OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate technologies that leverage Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) to safely and securely govern the fully autonomous control of coordinated unmanned systems.
DESCRIPTION: Many enhancements in current technology are required in order to fully realize autonomous flight. One challenge with the current technology is bandwidth limitation in unmanned systems communication. The 1030-1090 MHz transponder send/receive frequencies currently allocated for the military and general aviation cannot support the expected growth in integration of unmanned systems in the near- and long-term future.
The recent emergence of ADS-B infrastructure by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) using the UAT provides an opportunity for further research and development into how these new communication strategies can be used and enhanced for partial or fully autonomous vehicles. ADS-B can provide increased situational awareness and a means for cooperative aircraft collision avoidance, while UATs operating at 978 MHz can handle more traffic with more detailed communication. However, serious technical limitations still exist. For instance, ADS-B signals sent using UATs lack encryption and can readily be spoofed.
ADS-B is a mature technology in which a GPS-based vector is broadcast either on 1090 MHz or 978 MHz that is primarily used to enhance situational awareness for both manned and unmanned aircraft. Recently ADS-B has been used to develop cooperative collision avoidance algorithms for aircraft, but it may not be able to stand alone as a means for collision avoidance due to limitations on signal integrity. UAT is a newly developed technology for the next generation of transponder equipped aircraft and will operate on 978 MHz, a much less congested frequency band.
This effort will address how to improve ADS-B and UAT to insure signal integrity and overcome the issues with False Response from Unintended Interrogations currently experienced at 1090 MHz.
PHASE I: The contractor will develop strategies and techniques to optimize the reliability of UAT for use on UAS intended to be operated in the National Airspace System (NAS) with manned aircraft. Areas to be investigated include the current lack of UAT encryption and the susceptibility of the system to spoofing or jamming. Since the primary application for NAVAIR is the use of ADS-B as the cooperative tracking element of a Sense and Avoid (SAA) system, investigations of how it can be optimized for this application will be pursued. Phase I will result in a prioritized list of improvements which can be pursued under this effort.
PHASE II: The Navy will select which Phase I improvements are of the greatest impact to UAS self-separation maintenance and collision avoidance, and will then proceed to address these areas which may be algorithmic, involve signal processing improvements, or additions to the basic waveform which can lead to improved performance. The contractor will then be expected to develop these capabilities to the level where they can be demonstrated on an airborne platform operating in a representative environment.
PHASE III: By Phase III a specific UAS platform will have been identified for the airborne demonstration, and the funding will be used for integration on this platform and testing in realistic environments. Since this is a cooperative system (i.e., requires participation from all other cooperative platforms in the airspace), it will have to be integrated with a non-cooperative sensing system for the ultimate self separation/collision avoidance demonstration. A critical part of this demonstration will be the algorithms and processing needed to provide UAS situation awareness for the operator, as well as for manned platforms operating in this airspace.
PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The technology developed will be useful for a wide variety of commercial applications using manned and unmanned aircraft. In the future it is envisioned that Cargo UAS platforms will operate over regularly scheduled routes, more border and urban surveillance will be accomplished by UAS platforms, and the UAS will have greater involvement in addressing national emergencies (e.g., rescues in floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes). It is also expected that UAS platforms may be used to remedy special conditions such as operating in areas with radioactivity leaks, transporting radioactive materials, and dealing with many types of hazardous wastes.
2. FAA’s "Surveillance/Positioning Backup Strategy Alternatives Analysis", Paper No.: 08-003 prepared by: Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), Air Navigation Services Working Group (2008).
3. 14 CFR Part 91: Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS–B) Out Performance
KEYWORDS: Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B); Universal Access Transceiver (UAT); Unmanned Aerial System (UAS); Sense and Avoid (SAA); self-separation; collision avoidance