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Due to the rapid advancement in Remotely-Operated Aircraft (ROA) technology, government and industry have identified many applications of ROAs that require ROA access into the National Airspace (NAS). ROAs can potentially be used for commercial, civil and homeland security applications. Commercial applications of ROAs are planned in the a griculture (timing and selection of harvest areas), marine (fisheries - monitoring), imaging, cargo delivery, and telecommunications industries. Potential civil applications of ROAs include monitoring of dams, aqueducts, pipelines, power line and plants, ports, and other critical national infrastructure, land and sea traffic monitoring, weather and meteorology, real-time disaster observation/photography/sensing, hurricane reconnaissance, search and rescue, forestry and fire monitoring, geological surveying, land use and mapping. Homeland security applications of ROAs include surveillance and reconnaissance, border and harbor patrols, and law enforcement.

In response to the rapid expansion of the intended uses of ROAs in the commercial arena, the Access 5 Project was initiated. Access 5 is a consortium of the leading aerospace companies, NASA (project leader), FAA, and DoD for achieving the capability to operate ROAs safely, reliably and routinely in NAS. The operational strategy is first to gain ROA "file-and-fly" access to high altitude (above FL 400) long endurance operations. Subsequently, this access will be extended to lower altitudes and eventually to any airport that can support ROAs.

This joint Cal State University Long Beach- NASA Ames simulation project is a plan to demonstrate the feasibility of a laboratory for proving out the problems of ROA access in commercial airspace, emphasizing air traffic control and pilot operations. We will initially examine low altitude ROA operations near air terminal space to identify problems unique to this airspace and its operations. We will broaden our scope from the terminal environment to intersect with work accomplished by the Access 5 team.

Objectives: The long term objectives of the joint simulation project are as follows:

- Demonstrate that ROAs can fly in terminal airspace without major disruptions to inbound and outbound traffic.
- Simulate and evaluate ATM issues for UAVs in low altitude patrol or loiter where UAV might consider adjusting flight path, speed, and altitude to maintain separation with moving weather, proximal traffic, flight corridors/waypoints and other UAVs flying in formation.
- Integrate and fly USIM, (Shadow ROA simulation software) in MACS and CDTI simulation environments. USIM is a simulation of a Shadow pilot and payload operator station developed by the Rotorcraft group. Currently the payload station has a terrain data base for Moffett Field area. Boeing and CSULB are working at modifying USIM so that it can fly in the MACS simulation environment and to be compatible with other data bases of visual terrain.

These goals will be met by a series of joint simulations between CSULB and NASA Ames, with Boeing serving as operations consultant. Our first step in achieving these objectives is a preliminary demonstration of the feasibility of conducting joint simulations over the internet, and flying UAVs in low altitude patrol near areas of heavy commercial traffic. In our first joint simulation we plan to demonstrate that a joint simulation between CSULB and Ames is feasible and useful, and identify any problems that must be resolved for CSULB to play a larger role in future simulations.

The initial demonstration will be a joint simulation with UAVs in low altitude flight (under the approach path) around DFW (patrolling reservoirs in the near vicinity). UAVs will be simulated with modified, small aircraft model (i.e. Cessna ) and a flight path that is as close to a UAV patrol or a reservoir (as close to an elliptical path) as possible, yet still feasible in the current MACS/CDTI configuration. We are avoiding as much as possible, any major software modifications for the initial demonstration.

Related Links:

Access 5: http://www.access5.aero/site_content/index.html
Boeing Company Phantom Works: http://www.boeing.com/phantom/ausce_web_nu2.html
Thomas Z. Strybel, Ph.D. at the Center for the Study of Advanced Aeronautical Technologies, Cal State Long Beach: http://www.csulb.edu/~tstrybel/aavatmsrc/.
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Walter Johnson
Last Updated: June 22, 2012