OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: Autonomy; Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Sensors; Electronics; Information Systems; Air Platform
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 the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. Please direct questions to the Air Force SBIR/STTR HelpDesk: email@example.com.
OBJECTIVE: Integrate mature detect and avoid capability on an existing long-endurance, Group V UAS platform for increased aircraft and pilot-in-the-loop operational awareness that leverages new and evolving C-SWaP sensors and sensor fusion software.
DESCRIPTION: Detect and Avoid (DAA) systems provide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with an “equivalent level of safety, comparable to see-and-avoid requirements for manned aircraft” (FAA). While progress in this area has focused on future civil and commercial airspace navigation, military applications support the safe transit of military UAS’s through the National Airspace (NAS) and over international waters without concern of collision with other aircraft. While the solution can be platform agnostic, the scope of this topic is to examine integration of DAA on a specific UAS platform. The platform is a Group V, fixed-wing UAS designed for long endurance with a pilot-in-the-loop. Operational environment for the platform with DAA is Visual Flight Rules (VFR) only. The UAS has performance limitations between 10-25 kft of altitude and 65-110 kts. The solution’s advisory should be compatible with the platform’s performance limitations and not require/suggest aggressive climb or descent rates (i.e. the UAS requires climb/descent rates limited to 500 fpm or less). While a pilot-in-the-loop (PIL) system will be employed for the UAS, the onboard DAA system should provide improved airspace situational awareness otherwise not known to the pilot without the system. The solution should have limited latency (threshold of less than two seconds) to the ground control station (GCS) for potential operational use. The solution will interact with the GCS so that the PIL has situational awareness from the onboard DAA. The GCS software and interface will be available for potential add-in integration, though the solution can also use a separate system. The solution should provide easily interpretable graphics to the user to promote rapid response, as required, to avoid potential collisions with due regard including outside the National Airspace System (NAS). The solution should include a fully autonomous DAA mode without a PIL intervention for lost communications scenarios. The DAA system will be used for cooperative and non-cooperative intruders. The solution’s scope includes both DAA sensors and sensor fusion, with access to the platform’s transponder. At a minimum, input will be ADS-B in signals and radar cross-sections from surrounding airborne aircraft. Avoidance will be limited to other aircraft (i.e. does not require terrain and/or obstacle avoidance). DAA will only be required during transit operations (Class A and Class E airspaces and due regard). Solutions with existing ICAO/FAA certifications are desired (reference RTCA DO-365), and airworthiness for CONUS flight testing will be required by end of program. When combined with a low-cost goal, a long endurance platform accomplishes its mission by reducing the cost, size, weight, and power (C-SWaP) of onboard components. Therefore, the solution should prioritize C-SWaP performance. The size of the DAA system is important for any outside mounted sensors (i.e. radar) that could potential affect the planar area or wing performance and lead to increased drag, thus lowering the effectiveness of the long endurance platform. Internal space in the UAS is available for a DAA system, though external pod mounted sensors will be considered but are not preferred due to their increased drag on lower effectiveness of long endurance platform performance.
PHASE I: This is a Direct to Phase 2 (D2P2) topic. Phase 1 like proposals will not be evaluated and will be rejected as nonresponsive. For this D2P2 topic, the Government expects that the small business would have accomplished the following in a Phase I-type effort via some other means (e.g. IRAD, or other funded work). It must have developed a concept for a workable prototype or design to address at a minimum the basic capabilities of the stated objective above. Proposal must show, as appropriate to the proposed effort, a demonstrated technical feasibility or nascent capability to meet the capabilities of the stated objective. Proposal may provide example cases of this new capability on a specific application. The documentation provided must substantiate that the proposer has developed a preliminary understanding of the technology to be applied in their Phase II proposal to meet the objectives of this topic. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results.
PHASE II: Integrate mature detect and avoid capability on an existing long-endurance, Group V UAS platform, and demonstrate the utility in several Air Force need areas for missions that are at different stages of conceptual maturity, including where conceptual development has not yet begun. Provide intermediate products to be assessed by planning teams, summarizing information that captures sensitivity of mission-level outcomes, including schedule, cost and risk, to key architecture and implementation decisions. Carry at least one flight test assessment of complete system integrated on UAS against manned aircraft intruder.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The contractor will pursue commercialization of the technologies developed in Phase II for potential government and commercial applications. Government applications include rapid concept development and maturation for emerging military space missions. There are potential commercial applications to space system design, and evaluation and assessment of new business ventures.
- McCalmont, John, Utt, James, Deschenes, Michael, and Taylor, Michael (2005) Sense and Avoid, Phase I (Man-in-the-Loop) Advanced Technology Demonstration. AIAA Infotech@Aerospace,https://doi-org.wrs.idm.oclc.org/10.2514/6.2005-7176;
- Truitt, Todd, Zingale, Carolina, and Konkel, Alex, (2016) Human-in-the-Loop Simulation to Assess How UAS Integration in Class C Airspace Will Affect Air Traffic Control Specialists. FAA Technical Report,https://hf.tc.faa.gov/publications/2016-01-uas-operational-assessment-visual-compliance/full_text.pdf;
KEYWORDS: Detect and avoid; autonomous; sense and avoid; DAA; SAA; UAS; airborne