ClimaCell, in collaboration with MIT Lincoln Laboratory, proposes the development of an innovative Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Weather Testbed to provide weather information at a high-resolution to capture fine-scale phenomena impactful to future UAM operations. The testbed will consider the use of currently available sensors, as well as other advanced technology to meet current low-altitude weather information gaps to facilitate safe and efficient UAM operations. Using artificial intelligence and numerical weather prediction approaches, the sparse weather observations will be used to analyze current weather conditions at high-resolution in three-dimensions and produce forecasts with products tailored for the UAM community. In designing this prototype network, input from a variety of UAM stakeholders will be solicited to ensure that the network will meet their anticipated needs, and the interaction will continue as the network is built out for additional feedback. This Phase I work will include a weather information gaps assessment, architecture design for an urban weather testbed for UAM, and identification of suitable municipalities for hosting a build out of a prototype testbed. In a follow-on Phase II effort, the network would be built out in at least one municipality and the high-resolution data would be marketed to additional customers beyond the UAM community to sustain a network in the interim, given that it is expected to be a number of years until a critical mass of UAM customers exists to pay for the network maintenance.
NASA is leading the nation’s effort to rapidly develop and enable Urban Air Mobility and Advance Air Mobility operations. Complex low-altitude weather adversely affects and poses a hazard to these operations. A reduction in weather and wind uncertainty at high-resolution as provided by this urban weather testbed will help facilitate safe and efficient Urban Air Mobility flights. Additional high-resolution weather information will be useful to unmanned aerial system operators and traditional aviation operators at commercial airports as well.
The ultimate operational system resulting from this work will be high-resolution weather data and forecasts produced by a refined network of weather sensing infrastructure to be marketed as an application for Providers of Services for UAM (PSUs). This urban weather information will also be useful to NOAA and the NWS for forecasting, and the many other applications of the weather enterprise.