Small Non-Cooperative Collision Avoidance Systems Suited to Small Tactical Unmanned Systems
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-026
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Moore - [email protected]
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-026 TITLE: Small Non-Cooperative Collision Avoidance Systems Suited to Small Tactical Unmanned Systems

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors, Electronics


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop a non-cooperative compact collision avoidance system with Space, Weight, and Power (SWaP) characteristics suited for small tactical Group 2/3 unmanned aerial system (UAS).

DESCRIPTION: New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules for Next Generation (NextGen) national airspace surveillance strategy, which are set to be implemented by 2020, will strengthen the requirements for most aircraft, in most airspace, to determine their position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcast it out for receipt by air traffic control ground stations as well as other aircraft. Aircraft will be required to have at least one of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) "out" standards, either 1090 or 978 megahertz (MHz), to broadcast their position and velocity data. The data is broadcast every second, providing real-time position information that will, in most cases, be more accurate than the information provided by the primary and secondary radar based systems that are currently in use. Aircraft to aircraft ADS-B transmission will also permit highly reliable self-separation and collision avoidance for any aircraft outfitted with dual frequency ADS-B "in", enabling the aircraft to avoid other aircraft that are "co-operating" in the environment. However, there will remain in all airspace, aircraft that are not transmitting ADS-B "out". These may be aircraft that either do not have a transmitter, or that have a transmitter that is turned off or has failed. These non-cooperating aircraft will continue to pose a collision hazard for UAS.

A collision avoidance system that does not rely solely on co-operating aircraft that are ADS-B equipped is needed to ensure safe integration of UAS into the airspace. This system should ideally utilize ADS-B and in all aspects provide information for pilot oversight, self-separation and collision avoidance. It should additionally provide a fully autonomous self-separation and collision avoidance capability as an option of last resort.

Non-cooperative approaches have included visible and infrared (IR) camera systems, acoustic systems, radar systems and other radio frequency (RF) distance measuring technologies. The advent of Software Definable Radios (SDR) could potentially lead to an effective RF non-cooperative collision avoidance system with a small SWaP suitable for use with even small UAS.

The solution will be required to fit on a Group 2/3 UAS (such as the Aerosonde, Scan Eagle, RQ-21A Blackjack, or RQ-7B Shadow air vehicles and systems). An additional project goal would be compatibility with smaller Group 1 Small Unit Remote Scouting Systems (SURSS) such as the RQ-20A Puma, RQ-11B Raven, and RQ-12A Wasp family of systems. For a non-cooperative collision avoidance system to be accepted as a component technology of a Group 2 or Group 3 UAS, the SWaP consumption is a critical parameter. To be compatible with Small Tactical UAS (STUAS), the solution needs to have a small SWaP allowing for mission payloads and a low cost for baseline UAS system incorporation. Given the payload capacity of Scan Eagle (a Group 2 UAS) is on the order of 7.5 pounds at 60 watts, it is expected the SWaP for a non-cooperative collision avoidance system be a fraction of this capacity. All airborne hardware should weigh less than 12 ounces and consume less than 27 cubic inches of total space, with a power draw of less than 25 watts average. The collision avoidance system hardware can be distributed to various locations on the air vehicle but cannot significantly affect weight and balance or aerodynamic performance. A range of 2 to 5 miles for small RF cross section targets is needed. All UAS flyable weather performance is desired,

Successful laboratory demonstration by simulation of software-in-the-loop (SIL) and/ or hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) would be the first step towards a successful product. Desired next level testing would include air demonstrations in a restricted airspace environment, ideally in conjunction with a fully instrumented test range. These range demonstrations would be used to document the "mission readiness" and expected "mission effectiveness" of the system prior to testing in operational environments. Good results from restricted range testing would provide the leverage to help with the safety case for the use of UAS for emergency course of action (COA) response. The results would also be applicable for improvements in the integrated UAS mission capability for all military applications.

PHASE I: Demonstrate the feasibility of an all-weather non-cooperative collision avoidance system through modeling and simulation demonstrations. Candidate tasks are (1) comprehensive modeling of the system approach; (2) demonstration of the key performance parameters (KPP) that will define detection performance; (3) performance evaluations of the design in terms of target detection and localization capabilities; (4) identification of performance limitations and hardware requirements to prepare for Phase II hardware implementation. Determine preliminary hardware design for Phase II effort.

PHASE II: Develop a prototype, non-cooperative collision avoidance system suitable for testing on manned or unmanned platforms. Implement the hardware design initiated in Phase I using commercial-of-the-self (COTS) components where possible. Fully investigate the performance and capability of the demonstration system. Plan for a flight demonstration of the system on either manned surrogate UAS or military UAS platform, if available. It is expected that the UAS or military UAS platform, will be provided as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) or range support. Sense and Avoid (SAA) data should be collected and analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the system under realistic operating conditions. This SAA data should be delivered in a form that can be used to help justify the safety case of using UAS for various mission scenarios.

PHASE III: Further refine the collision avoidance system design to improve performance robustness for practical operation scenarios. Further miniaturization and low cost manufacturability of the capability may be required. Transition to military and commercial applications.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Commercial applications include potential use for both commercial UAS and commercial and private small aircraft. Initially the capability can be used to provide added safety in the use of UAS for first responders in a variety of civil applications. These include firefighting, crowd monitoring, damage assessment, search and rescue, and other emergencies where UAS would enhance the mission effectiveness.

1. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). (2006). Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) Manual. Retrieved from

2. Richards, W. R., O�Brien, K., & Miller, D. C. New Air Traffic Surveillance Technology. Aero Quarterly, ATR 02 � 10, Article 02. Retrieved from

3. Insitu. Integrator UAS System Description. Retrieved from

4. AeroVironment. PUMA AE Technical Specifications. Retrieved from

5. FAA. (2012). Automatic Dependent System Broadcast (ADS-B) Operations Advisory Circular, AC No. 90-114. Retrieved from

KEYWORDS: Collision Avoidance; ADS-B; Small Tactical UAS; Non-cooperative; self separation; autonomous operation

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