Autonomous Command, Control and Communication for Unmanned Aircraft Operations in the Terminal Control Area

Award Information
Department of Defense
Air Force
Award Year:
Phase II
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Small Business Information
801 Sycolin Road, Suite 212, Leesburg, VA, 20175
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Chris Brinton
President and Principal A
(703) 737-7637
Business Contact:
Chris Stevenson
Business Manager
(800) 405-8576
Research Institute:
The current command and control paradigm for management of air traffic is highly dependent on voice communication. This approach has benefited the development of Air Traffic Control (ATC) over the last century in many ways, including a low-level of required aircraft equipage and the ability to handle contingency situations and adapt to new requirements easily. However, the reliance on voice communication in ATC operations presents challenges to the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs). The remote pilot must interpret each ATC command, direct the aircraft accordingly, and communicate the appropriate response back to ATC. In this proposed effort, we apply advanced speech recognition concepts to the interpretation of ATC communications to enable autonomous communication between ATC and the Unmanned Aircraft (UA), removing the remote pilot from the communication loop between the UA and ATC. The key challenge in this approach is to ensure the required level of accuracy and reliability of the ATC speech recognition. To achieve complete autonomy, the UA must also be able to generate and transmit an appropriate response to ATC clearances. Thus, we do not require a speech recognition capability alone, but, rather, we require a fully autonomous command and control capability on-board the UA. BENEFIT: A number of potential opportunities exist for the UAACS technology including integration into future UASs, or as a retro-fit into current UAs, as well as application to civilian ATC automation system needs. The UAACS technology has the potential to reduce the workload of the UA remote pilot during airfield ground operations, while allowing mission planning to be conducted more efficiently, insofar as ground operations planning is concerned. In the civilian ATC market, there are many situations in which ATC clearances are only specified by voice command and are not entered into a computer system. In such situations, both ATC computer systems and aircraft-borne computer systems do not have access to the clearance requirements. The Automatic ATC Speech Recognition capabilities could be directly applied to this market need.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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