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Ongoing Flight Tests Successfully Demonstrating Virtual Testbed Infrastructure
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Ongoing Flight Tests Successfully Demonstrating Virtual Testbed Infrastructure

Researchers from Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center conducted successful flight tests over the past month that demonstrated key aspects of a virtual testbed infrastructure. The infrastructure leverages and extends the Live Virtual Constructive-Distributed Environment (LVC-DE), which connects real and virtual aircraft into a single real-time virtual airspace. The flight tests were conducted at Langley and successfully transmitted real-time flight data from playback data, as well as from an Edge-540 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) via a cellular connection to researchers at Ames with a latency of around 0.1 seconds. The NASA-developed LVC Gateway software was used to handle messages. The mission was watched live by researchers at Ames and Langley using the Mission Tools Suite (MTS) flight display, which was developed by Intelligent Systems Division researchers.

The next flight test on May 31st will connect a hardware-in-the-loop testbed at Ames that has the same motor and batteries as the Edge-540 UAV flying at Langley. The hardware-in-the-loop testbed will receive a real-time telemetry feed from the Edge-540 via the LVC Gateway and match the battery and motor flight load profiles. Faults will be injected into the testbed battery/motor assembly. Prognostics and Health Management (PHM) software will diagnose the fault and predict the remaining flight time, allowing pilots to react to the emulated fault state without risking the aircraft.

Ames developed the server-side software, developed and tested the hardware-in-the-loop testbed, and created the virtual aircraft software that operates the virtual aircraft during testing. Langley developed and tested a LVC-DE embedded client on the Edge UAV, and operates the Edge UAV during testing.

BACKGROUND: The virtual testbed infrastructure supports live distributed experiments incorporating one or more real aircraft, virtual aircraft, and hardware-in-the-loop elements. The LVC-DE tool is being extended to include additional message sets and a research framework that will allow exploration of future air traffic management concepts that include real-time prediction of airspace safety using a mix of real and simulated aircraft. This framework will enable evaluation of different scenarios that involve both single and multiple aircraft. For example, one could assess in real-time the deployment of health management algorithms in flight tests. Another example is that one could generate traffic patterns of interest (such as playback of historic traffic situations) where the performance algorithms that monitor the safety, health, and reaction of the inserted real aircraft (both piloted and unmanned) can be assessed.

TEAM: ARC: Chris Teubert, Chetan Kulkarni, George Gorospe, Scott Poll, and Kai Goebel; LaRC: Cuong Quach, Drew Burgett, and Edward Hogge

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Convergent Aeronautic Solutions (CAS) project, Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

POINT OF CONTACT: Chris Teubert, christopher.a.teubert@nasa.gov

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