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Surveying Earth's Gravity with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Award Information
Agency: Department of Commerce
Branch: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Contract: WC-133R-13-CN-0093
Agency Tracking Number: 13-040
Amount: $94,979.10
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 9.1.2R,N
Solicitation Number: NOAA-2013-1
Solicitation Year: 2013
Award Year: 2013
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2013-08-30
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2014-03-02
Small Business Information
4 Cambridge Center Floor 11
Cambridge, MA 02142-
United States
DUNS: 604717165
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 John Wissler, Ph.D
 Director, Systems Engineering
 (617) 500-3978
Business Contact
Research Institution

To assist with the National Geodetic Survey’s federal mandate to provide accurate positioning—including heights—to all federal non-military mapping activities in the USA, Aurora Flight Sciences proposes to integrate a gravimetry payload on a unmanned aerial system (UAS). Potential options include using either an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or an optionally piloted aircraft (OPA). An OPA is an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that is integrated into an aircraft combining the best of manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft capabilities and can be flown traditionally manned, completely unmanned as a UAS, and in a hybrid mode-pilot on-board, but the aircraft is controlled as a UAS by a ground station.

Flying a gravimeter on a OPA opens tremendous flexibility of operations for the user-flexibility that ultimately results in cost and time savings. One system satisfies both the manned and unmanned needs, so the user does not have to support two different aerial systems to perform the survey mission. And as current legislation limits UAV flights to specifically designated airspace, an OPA gives the NGS freedom to operate outside of currently available airspace, expanding the reach of the survey.

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

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