Windhover Labs proposes to create an inexpensive fault tolerant avionics package for Groups 1 and 2 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) (less than 55 lbs). Windhover Labs has already developed an open-source flight software backbone and ecosystem, called Airliner, built upon Core Flight System (CFS) created by NASA, with a path to FAA certification. The new avionics will have 2 sets of computing cores. One high speed set of cores running Linux and hosting non-critical software. The other computing cores run in lock-step and host critical software. The two zones of criticality execute completely separate operating systems, preventing faults from crossing zones and allowing zones to be reset independently of one another. The avionics package also includes an Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), allowing limitless extensibility. Combined, the platform provides maximum flexibility with reconfigurable hardware and high speed computing as well as maximum reliability with a lock-step processor, all in a low cost package about the size of a deck of playing cards.
In addition to the increased safety and flexibility, this proposal also includes integration of NASA’s Autonomy Operating System (AOS) directly into Airliner as native applications, providing Airliner a path to Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) integration. This proposal makes this possible with the increased performance, with no sacrifice in safety. Current avionics platforms capable of running Airliner flight software take up to 80% of the processing power performing just minimal stable flight. The proposed avionics has up to an 1100% increase in performance, depending on the configuration, providing ample processing power to run both Airliner and AOS with margin to spare for growth and additional functionality. Integration with AOS not only provides a significant increase in functionality, but the development process of AOS fits well with the Airliner development, providing a smooth path to FAA certification.
There are numerous NASA projects that could use this avionics board, including both Autonomy Operating System (AOS) as well as Independent Configurable Architecture for Reliable Operations of Unmanned Systems with Distributed On-board Services (ICAROUS, https://software.nasa.gov/software/LAR-19281-1). Both projects use hobbyist grade drone autopilots, which are the only ones currently available. We intend to also target all the Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) projects currently in work.
We intend to initially target all government agencies with drones built by China-based manufacturer, DJI. The American Security Drone Act of 2019, introduced to Congress in late 2019, will make all DJI drones illegal for government use. The first product will be a drop-in replacement to the DJI A2 and A3 drone autopilots, to start replacing some of the 80,000 soon to be grounded DJI drones.