NASA, Reliable Robotics Partner on UAS Safety

 - April 27, 2023, 12:20 PM
Reliable Robotics is working to certify its remote-piloting capabilities in a modified Cessna 208 Caravan. (Photo: Reliable Robotics)

Reliable Robotics has teamed with NASA to improve the safety of remotely-piloted aircraft in the National Airspace System using FAA primary surveillance radar (PSR) data. Specifically, the partners wanted to explore the use of existing radar infrastructure for automated detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems on board autonomous aircraft. 

Reliable Robotics is a California company developing “drop-in” autonomy kits to give legacy aircraft remote-piloting capabilities. Together with NASA, Reliable Robotics conducted a flight-test campaign in California using two of its experimental aircraft. During the flight tests, Reliable Robotics coordinated multiple encounters between the two aircraft while the FAA’s ground-based radars and commercial air-to-air radars tracked the flights and collected data. 

NASA is using that flight data to analyze and characterize the accuracy of the FAA’s radars, and the results of the study will help the agency develop a safety case for DAA systems using PSR data. Reliable Robotics says making high-quality PSR data available to pilots could significantly improve situational awareness and help to prevent mid-air collisions.

“We appreciate the close collaboration with the FAA and Reliable Robotics to collect meaningful data from flights to improve our collective understanding of using radar for DAA,” said Brad Snelling, partner chief engineer for the AAM National Campaign at NASA. “These landmark flights will help the entire AAM industry further their understanding and future use of PSR data to enhance aviation safety.”