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Cross-Project Flight Test Supporting Airborne Autonomy Completes

A joint Scalable Traffic Management for Emergency Response Operations (STEReO)/Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) and Perception and Distributed Sensing (P&DS)/Transformational Tools and Technologies (TTT) flight test campaign to collect low-altitude flight sensor data over the NASA Ames campus has been completed. This campaign collected high-definition visual RGB camera imagery, infrared camera imagery, and 3D-scanning Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) data supporting investigations into airborne autonomy for safe Beyond-Visual-Line-Of-Site (BVLOS) operations, GPS-free navigation, and real-time hazard detection and mapping.

Flight tests ran from November 3 to December 10, 2021 and utilized a jointly-developed CAS/TTT payload integrated onto a Freefly Alta X unmanned aircraft operated by the Smart Mobility (SM) team at NASA Ames. Low-altitude flight sensor data targeted various urban/suburban structures of interest, including roads, automobiles, power lines, sidewalks, trees, natural vegetation, and building structures. Flights were conducted over the Ames campus at several locations, including the Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) site at Ames Research Center (ARC), and along DeFrance Road. The flight science research team is a collaboration between the STEReO/CAS autonomy team and the P&DS/TTT team, led by the Intelligent Systems Division (Code TI). The STEReO/CAS project was led by the Human Systems Integration Division (Code TH). Mission management and flight operations were led by the SM team in the ARC Aeronautics Projects Office (Code AT). Oversight and aircraft support was provided by the ARC Aviation Management Office (Code JO).

BACKGROUND: Airborne operations are a vital component of emergency response in the wake of natural disasters in the United States. The Scalable Traffic Management for Emergency Response Operations (STEReO) activity under NASA’s Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) Project and Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP) seeks to improve efficiency and timeliness of the response, mitigation, and recovery phases of a disaster.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Scalable Traffic Management for Emergency Response Operations (STEReO) / Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) Project & Perception and Distributed Sensing (P&DS) / Transformational Tools and Technologies (TTT) Project; Transformative Aeronautics Concept Program (TACP), Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

TEAM: Anjan Chakrabarty, Josh Baculi, Wendy Holforty, and Corey Ippolito; CODE TH: Lauren E. Claudatos and Joey Mercer; CODE AT: Paul Fast, Jonas Jonsson, and Zach Roberts; CODE JO: Thomas Lynn, Mike Stewart, and Mark Sumich; ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE BRANCH (Code SGG): Richard Kolyer; ARC OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF AERONAUTICS (Code A): Leighton Quon

POINT OF CONTACT: Corey Ippolito, corey.a.ippolito@nasa.gov

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