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Cross-Project Flight Mission Testflies for Flight Data Collection Supporting Airborne Autonomy Investigations
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Cross-Project Flight Mission Testflies for Flight Data Collection Supporting Airborne Autonomy Investigations

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 mission is being conducted at NASA Ames on a Freefly Alta X aircraft platform to collect low-altitude flight data over the NASA Ames campus. These flight experiments seek to collect high-definition visual RGB camera imagery, InfraRed (IR) camera imagery, and 3D-scanning Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) data supporting investigations into airborne autonomy for safe beyond-visual-line-of-site operations, GPS-free navigation, and real-time mapping. The aim of this flight series is to collect low-altitude flight sensor data targeting various urban/suburban structures of interest, including roads, automobiles, sidewalks, trees and vegetation, and man-made structures.

Initial flight tests were conducted on November 3, 2021, over the Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) site at Ames Research Center (ARC). Nine complete flight data sets were collected, with over 30GB of total data that included airborne IR, LIDAR, and vision. The flight science research is led by the collaborative STEReO Autonomy and P&DS team in the Intelligent Systems Division (Code TI). Mission management and flight operations are led by the Smart Mobility (SM) team in the ARC Aeronautics Projects Office (Code AT). Aircraft management is provided by the ARC Aviation Management Office (Code JO). And the STEReO project is led by ARC’s Human Systems Integration Division (Code TH).

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: Josh Baculi, Anjan Chakrabarty, Wendy Holforty, and Corey Ippolito; CODE AT: Paul Fast, Jonas Jonsson, and Zach Roberts; CODE JO: Thomas Lynn, Mike Stewart, and Mark Sumich; ARC Atmospheric Science Branch (CODE SGG): Richard Kolyer; CODE TH: Joey Mercer

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

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