Onboard Turbulence Recognition System for Improved UAS Operator Situational Awareness
Navy SBIR FY2018.1


Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2018.1
Topic No.: N181-017
Topic Title: Onboard Turbulence Recognition System for Improved UAS Operator Situational Awareness
Proposal No.: N181-017-0634
Firm: Barron Associates, Inc.
1410 Sachem Place
Suite 202
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901
Contact: Alec Bateman
Phone: (434) 973-1215
Web Site: http://www.barron-associates.com
Abstract: Aircraft routinely encounter turbulence and pilots must respond appropriately to turbulence to maintain safe aircraft operation within the prescribed operating limits, and to effectively accomplish missions. Pilots of manned aircraft can readily assess the severity of turbulence, and naturally maintain a high degree of situational awareness with regard to the turbulence level. Operators of unmanned aircraft cannot rely on the physical sensations that onboard pilots do to assess turbulence levels, and automated systems are needed onboard the aircraft to identify the turbulence level. The information then needs to be conveyed to the operator in a format that can be readily interpreted and used to make appropriate operational decisions to protect the air vehicle and meet mission objectives. The proposed Turbulence Recognition and Decision Support System for UAS is designed to quantify turbulence in two distinct ways: in terms of the level of turbulent energy in the atmosphere, and in terms of its impact on key air vehicle states including attitude, altitude, airspeed, and accelerations. The system relates the estimated quantities directly to operating limits and forecast values from weather products to support decision making by the UAS operator.
Benefits: The proposed technology will improve safety and operational effectiveness by improving the UAS operatorÉ?Ts situational awareness with regard to turbulence, and providing information that directly supports effective operational decision making. The system will put turbulence observations in the context of both vehicle limits (e.g., g-limits) and payload/mission limits (e.g., attitude or angular acceleration constraints for achieving desired imagery quality) to aid the operator in making decisions that both ensure vehicle health and achieve mission objectives. The proposed research effort will produce technology applicable across a broad range of vehicle sizes and operating conditions, resulting in a wide range of commercial applications and customers. Government applications will be found in many areas including all branches of the military, DHS, and even DOT. The technology will also be highly beneficial to commercial operators of small UAS, particular as beyond-visual-line-of-sight operations expand, resulting in significantly reduced operator situational awareness.

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