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STTR Phase II: Autonomous Landing of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems onto Moving Platforms

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1758678
Agency Tracking Number: 1758678
Amount: $748,706.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: EW
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2017
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-03-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-02-29
Small Business Information
710 13th St Unit 307
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
DUNS: 079592990
HUBZone Owned: Yes
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Gaemus Collins
 (805) 453-3122
Business Contact
 Gaemus Collins
Phone: (805) 453-3122
Research Institution
 Brigham Young University
 Timothy W McLain
A-285 ASB Campus Drive
Provo, UT 84602
United States

 () -
 Nonprofit College or University

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will enable Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS or drones) to safely and reliably operate from moving vehicles and moving vessels at sea. There is an immediate need for this capability in many industries. In commercial fishing, drones will replace manned aircraft for fish-finding operations, radically reducing cost and risk. In maritime security, drones will provide surveillance around ships, including locating a ?man-overboard? in time to save the person?s life. In the oil and gas industry, drones will provide rapid-response to oil spills by mapping the location and extent of the oil slick, limiting the environmental and economic damage. In hydrographic surveying, drones will identify and geo-locate navigation aids, at a fraction of the time and cost of current survey methods. In commercial shipping, drones will inspect and protect shipping vessels while they are underway. In the transport industry, drones will delivery packages the ?last mile? from a delivery truck to a customer?s door. In law enforcement and border security, drones will operate from moving patrol vehicles while officers remain safe and mobile in the vehicle. These applications are currently difficult or impossible, but will become radically safer and easier with the proposed technology. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 project will advance the current state of the art in UAS/drone autonomy, to enable reliable drone operations from moving vehicles and moving vessels at sea. Shipboard landing is extremely difficult, due to the heaving and rolling of the ship deck, potential high winds, and the high precision control required during landing. Current drone technology does not facilitate landing on moving platforms; this prevents their use in maritime operations, and has become the main barrier to commercialization in this sector. The proposed research will develop a vision-aided relative navigation system that combines precise air-to-ship observations with onboard sensor measurements to accurately estimate the relative state between the drone and the ship. These relative state estimates will be used to dynamically route and control the drone safely on to the ship deck. Technical feasibility of this approach has been demonstrated during the Phase I project, which included demonstration of the technology in a relevant environment. The primary goals of the Phase 2 project are to improve system reliability, expand the operational envelope, and productize our system. The plan to achieve these goals includes scientific development paired with extensive testing, validation, and demonstration. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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