NASA successfully tests detect-and-avoidance system for drones

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Mariella Moon
September 17th, 2015
In this article: detect-and-avoid, ikhana, nasa
NASA successfully tests detect-and-avoidance system for drones

NASA's Detect-and-Avoidance (DAA) system for drones is looking mighty promising. The agency has just finished its latest phase of of test flights using a remote-controlled Ikhana aircraft equipped with DAA sensors over the Mojave desert in California. NASA's Dennis Hines says they still have to fully analyze the data they gathered from the flights -- the third in a series -- but they found that the drone successfully alerted it remote pilots and performed preprogrammed maneuvers when faced with obstacles. Frank Pace, the president of Aircraft Systems for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems said the flight tests' favorable outcome "represents the maturity of [their] detect-and-avoid system."

General Atomics created one of the DAA tech's three sensors, particularly its radar system. A company called BAE Systems developed one of the other sensors: a satellite-based navigation tool that determines and broadcasts the drone's position to ground control. The third sensor developed by Honeywell keeps an eye on aerial traffic and alerts pilots if a collision might take place. NASA's researchers will now use the info they gathered from this round to plan for future flight tests slated to take place next spring.

[Image credit: NASA Photo / Carla Thomas]

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