Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA tests radio for unmanned aircraft operations

Date:
June 17, 2013
Source:
NASA
Summary:
NASA's communications experts have begun flight testing a prototype radio as part of the agency's contributions toward fully integrating civil and commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). This particular radio is one of the first steps to provide the critical communications link for UAS pilots on the ground to safely and securely operate their remotely piloted vehicles in flight even though they are many miles -- if not continents or oceans -- apart.

NASA's S-3 Viking research aircraft at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
Credit: NASA/Michelle M. Murphy

NASA's communications experts have begun flight testing a prototype radio as part of the agency's contributions toward fully integrating civil and commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS).

This particular radio is one of the first steps to provide the critical communications link for UAS pilots on the ground to safely and securely operate their remotely piloted vehicles in flight even though they are many miles -- if not continents or oceans -- apart.

"So far the tests are going well and we're learning a lot about how this prototype radio operates under various conditions, but we still have much more testing to do on this radio and others that will come," said Jim Griner, a project engineer at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

Currently there is not a great deal of freedom for civilian uses of UAS over our nation's skies. Police and firefighters, for example, must use off-the-shelf systems and fly under special Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approvals that restrict where and when remotely piloted vehicles can fly.

"There are some pretty good limitations on those operations, but the work we're doing to develop a new command and control radio for the UAS to use will help go beyond that," Griner said.

Built under a cooperative agreement between NASA and Rockwell Collins in Iowa, the current prototype radio is a platform to test operations at certain frequencies with specific radio waveforms that are unique to its particular task -- in this case command and control of a remotely piloted vehicle.

Once testing concludes on the initial prototype, lessons learned will be applied to a second generation test radio, which is now scheduled to be delivered to NASA in September. Additional testing will follow, after which a final prototype design is to be delivered and tested in the 2015-2016 timeframe.

Ultimately the FAA will define the final requirements that will lead to certification of a UAS command and control radio for use in the NAS, but by building and testing prototype units now NASA is helping move the process along.

"Usually the requirements are defined first and then we try to build equipment based on those requirements. This short-circuits a number of years off the traditional process," Griner said.

The prototype radio was delivered to NASA Glenn on Feb. 28 and successfully put through its paces on a laboratory test bench. Flight tests in a NASA S-3 Viking twin-engine jet began in May and are expected to continue in June.

Tests of the prototype radio were preceded by a number of flights of the S-3 in which NASA researchers sought to characterize the way radio frequencies behave at the specific bandwidths assigned to civil UAS operations -- something that had not been done before.

The way radio waves move through the air can be affected by a number of different things, including whether the ground is covered with leafy trees or snow and ice. Mountains, oceans, weather conditions, urban sprawl, skyscrapers and more can cause a change in a radio signal, for a good or bad.

These channel characterization flights began last December with the S-3 flying over areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania while a specially outfitted trailer with a 60-foot deployable antenna mast transmitted signals from the ground below.

With the prototype radio now in hand, the channel characterization and prototype radio tests will overlap a bit as there are plans for a visit to California this month to record data over coastal feature areas that include the ocean, mountains and desert.

NASA's UAS in the NAS Project is part of the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate's Integrated Systems Research Program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "NASA tests radio for unmanned aircraft operations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130617130831.htm>.
NASA. (2013, June 17). NASA tests radio for unmanned aircraft operations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130617130831.htm
NASA. "NASA tests radio for unmanned aircraft operations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130617130831.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Reuters - US Online Video (July 29, 2014) Passengers stuck overnight on a whale watching boat return safely to Boston. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

AP (July 29, 2014) The U.S. nuclear industry started building its first new plants using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and prevent the cost overruns that crippled the sector decades ago. So far, it's not working. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins