NASA SBIR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 A3.02-9077
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Autonomy of the National Airspace System (NAS)
PROPOSAL TITLE: Autonomous, Safe Take-Off and Landing Operations for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the National Airspace

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Near Earth Autonomy, Inc.
5001 Baum Boulevard, Suite 750
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 - 1856
(412) 513-6110

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Sanjiv Singh
5001 Baum Boulevard, Suite 750
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 - 1856
(412) 855-3675

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Marcel Bergerman
5001 Baum Boulevard, Suite 750
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 - 1856
(412) 513-6110

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Autonomy of the National Airspace System (NAS) is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Unmanned aerial systems (UAS's) and in particular intelligent, autonomous rotorcraft and fixed-wing aircraft have the potential to significantly impact modern society. A few examples of their utility include aerial surveying in difficult-to-access terrain, precision agriculture, package delivery, moviemaking, infrastructure inspection, fire fighting, search and rescue, etc. Recently there has been a lot of interest in autonomous air vehicles for cargo delivery to improve cost and time associated with shipping goods. Finally, much of the technology for autonomy could be used as a pilot's aid to help in difficult tasks such as landing a helicopter on an oil rig in the high seas or in the personal air vehicles of the future which are envisioned to be operated by people without significant pilot training.

While the technology for unmanned air vehicles operating day in and day out without constant human supervision is maturing steadily, much remains to be done to make these vehicles commonplace. We have identified a number of challenges that must be addressed for these vehicles to safely and efficiently conduct their tasks in the National Airspace System (NAS). Civilian applications of UASs must ensure that they can:

1. sense and avoid other vehicles and follow air traffic commands,
2. avoid the terrain and land without operator intervention,
3. react to contingencies such as engine out and lost link scenarios, and
4. be reliable and cost-effective.

We propose to a combination of software algorithms and low-cost, low SWAP sensors that simultaneously solves the navigation and obstacle detection problem, especially as relates to operation in cluttered environments. That is, in this program we will show that it is possible for small autonomous air vehicles to reliably and safely fly in the first and last 50 feet of operation.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The development of technology that enables autonomous and safe UAS operations during the critical (near earth) phases of take-off and landing will directly contribute to NASA's testing and validation of technologies and concepts for UAS operations in the NAS. Additionally, Near Earth's technology will provide an enhanced capability, enabling more comprehensive UAS flight-testing for NASA's collaborative efforts with the FAA to accommodate UAS operations in NextGen. As the capabilities mature and are integrated into more air vehicles, they will also be of direct use to NASA in their flight testing of ground-based air navigational aids and guidance systems located in remote areas. The proposed autonomous technology will enable greater utilization of UAS in other NASA areas, particularly for experimentation and testing in the various research centers, for example expanding the utilization of UAS in the Ames FINESSE volcano research. The mature technology will ultimately enable greater use of UAS in space. A UAS that knows its position and is able to set down, avoiding obstacles in a cluttered environment can be used to accomplish repairs both inside and outside a spacecraft, as well as performing exploration of planetary surfaces.

In essence, the successful development of the technology specified in this solicitation will enable NASA and any of its contractors involved with autonomous systems to accomplish testing with increased safety and decreased cost.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Other Government agencies, both military and civilian, will comprise a much larger market for the technology. The UAS market is forecast to explode into hundreds-of-thousands of units within just a few years of the FAA establishing the appropriate regulatory procedures for the operation of UAS in the NAS. An enhance capability for safe, autonomous take-off and landing will fuel the market's forecast growth. Technology ensuring the safe operation of UAS, particularly during the first and last 50 ft. of flight, will contribute to testing that verifies the safety of UAS operations as well as providing regulators, legislators, and the general public with increased confidence in UAS operations. UAS are already in high demand, and they are being used in an increasing number of applications. Military UAS requirements are well documented and tens-of-thousands of UAS are already in use worldwide. The ability to take-off and land in tactical cluttered environments will allow UAS to be used more extensively in support of forward units. Additionally, the commercial market is forecast to grow to as many as 160,000 UAS. As soon as UAS operation in the national airspace is fully implemented, the cargo transportation market, in particular, is forecast to be the largest market segment. Autonomous precision take-off and landing will be a key enabling technology in realizing this market.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
Recovery (see also Vehicle Health Management)
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)

Form Generated on 04-23-15 15:37