The aviation industry and government agencies face a rapidly-emerging need for integrating large-scale populations of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) into the worldwide controlled and uncontrolled airspace. Critical components for integration include the Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance (CNS) technologies necessary for ensuring safe UAS operations. Under NASA program NNA16BD84C, our work on CNS architectural concepts for the safe operation of UAS in controlled and uncontrolled airspace has introduced CNS architectures which must be analyzed in terms of implementation readiness.
Controlled airspace operations for UAS are consistent with the needs for manned aviation in the worldwide Air Traffic Management (ATM) service. Uncontrolled airspace operations are consistent with the NASA Unmanned (air) Traffic Management (UTM) concept of operations. Implementation readiness is based on the NASA concept of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) ranging from TRL1 (basic principles observed and reported) to TRL9 (actual system flight proven through successful mission operations). In the architecture concepts, we have introduced a number of new CNS architectural elements which need to be correlated with TRL levels.
In this paper, we present our implementation analysis for communications networks, communications data links, navigation, and surveillance. Each area has been under active research and development during the course of the current NASA program which has produced studies on UAS CNS Requirements, UAS CNS Architecture for Controlled Airspace and UAS CNS Architecture for Uncontrolled Airspace. We have published our architecture concepts in major UAS-related conferences (including iCNS2017, IEEE Aerospace 2018, and iCNS2018) and will continue to seek additional publication opportunities. We look forward to continuing our work to realize a full integration testing scenario for both controlled and uncontrolled airspace operation.
Preprint in Adobe Acrobat format.