NASA software developers take autonomy from simulation to flight

Aug. 28, 2023
With NASA test pilots and Sikorsky safety pilots onboard each aircraft, the two will autonomously fly test scenarios to capture the data from precise flight scenarios, Laura Mitchell writes for NASA's Armstrong Flight Center.

EDWARDS, Calif., - Self-flying air taxis may create a new era of transportation opportunities for passengers and cargo, shortening travel time using autonomous software that provide safe and reliable flight paths. From urban centers to rural communities, automated air taxis could grant passengers unprecedented access to the world around them, Laura Mitchell writes for NASA's Armstrong Flight Center. Continue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

28 August 2023 - Before automation software can be used for flight it must be developed and tested to ensure its accuracy and safety. NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility researchers at Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, have been developing automation software as part of a collaboration with Sikorsky and DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. This research will ultimately test the software’s responsiveness using two highly specialized helicopters as surrogate air taxis.

Using customized test-tablets with scripted flight paths, software developers and pilots run software through precise simulations of air-to-air encounters, enabling a variety of conflict scenarios to test algorithms.

“The software design begins with conceptualizing what future Advanced Air Mobility vehicle operations and flight behavior scenarios might look like,” says lead software developer Ethan Williams. “We then refine the software requirements under development, so it behaves as expected enabling the proposed Advanced Air Mobility air-taxi operations. The simulation using the tablets and ground control room displays help to identify potential issues prior to actual flight testing.”

The team will evaluate how the software prototype allows pilots using the tablet to initiate specific autonomous flight rules that would be common for air taxis in the highly complex, dynamic, and dense Advanced Air Mobility airspace.

Related: Air-taxis seen zooming through U.S. skies by 2028 in FAA proposal

Related: Honeywell works to digitize air traffic management in Europe

Related: Honeywell introduces new SATCOM system for advanced air mobility

Jamie Whitney, Senior Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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