In 2006, UND was named as a Department of Defense Center of Excellence for UAV Education, now called The Center for UAS Research, Education, and Training. UND researchers teaming in The Center for UAS Research, Education, and Training represent the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, the School of Engineering and Mines, the Northern Plains Center for Behavioral Research, and the Center for Innovation. The Center for UAS Research, Education, and Training designation provided a vehicle for convenient collaboration with Grand Forks AFB and the Fargo Air National Guard, recently designated UAV bases. UND has also been invited to collaborate in UAV research and development with several private sector partners including Lockheed Martin, Frasca International, Inc., and Alion Science and Technology. In addition, UND Aerospace was already collaborating with the FAA Center of Excellence for General Aviation Research (CGAR) on integrating UAVs into the national airspace system, and with Mayo Clinic for a Flight Medicine Residency incorporating UAV training.
The researchers involved in these cross-campus collaborations have a history of working together over the past 15 years in federally-supported projects, including Department of Defense-funded human factors research, National Institutes of Health-funded human factors research, and NASA-funded airborne sensor development and flight training. These campus investigators, along with the Center for Innovation, are working together to foster economic development in UAVs and simulation applications. Because of this wide array of existing research expertise, UND was poised to assume a leadership role within the U.S. and throughout the world as a Center of Excellence in UAV and simulation applications.
As UAVs revolutionize the aviation industry, the opportunity exists right now for creating new aviation industry markets. The goal of this Center of Excellence is to commercialize UAVs for a vast application in the private sector, creating highly skilled and highly paid professional positions throughout North Dakota. Partnering with the Center for Innovation, The Center for UAS Research, Education and Training is positioned to introduce newly discovered technologies directly into the marketplace via partnerships with entrepreneurial companies in the Grand Forks area.
ASSURE (Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence)
A2: Small UAS Detect and Avoid Requirements Necessary for Limited Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Operations
The purpose of this research is to reach out and survey the industry's current uses of small UAS and systems to support limited BVLOS to help inform FAA rules, regulations, and guidelines. These current users are the most likely source of personnel who will want to fly BVLOS in the future. Standards and rules for DAA that would allow UAS to conduct BVLOS operations do not exist today. Many sUAS operations, such as precision agriculture, crop and wildlife monitoring, search and rescue, and linear infrastructure inspection are thus restricted - limiting the potential of sUAS commercial operations and public benefit. This research will help inform FAA regulations and industry standards addressing DAA and BVLOS operations. Some of the questions this research intends to answer are:
- What are the use cases requiring DAA for BVLOS operations?
- What DAA systems are available, what are their capabilities and limitations, and are they mature enough to support BVLOS operations
- Is the SARP definition of "Well Clear" appropriate?
- What characteristics of DAA systems and UAS must be considered to ensure maintenance of well clear status?
- How should sUAS DAA systems be evaluated to ensure they provide safe separation services in the NAS?
- What is the recommended test method(s) to evaluate different DAA systems?
A7: UAS Human Factors Control Station Design Standards
This research addresses four synergistic areas:
- Function Allocation Between UAS Pilot and System Automation
- Control Station Standards and Guidelines
- Crewmember Training and Certification
- Visual Observer Requirements
A10: Human Factors Considerations of Unmanned Aircraft System Procedures & Control Stations
This research focused on minimum pilot procedures and operational practices used by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operators today for the purpose of developing recommendations. This research recommends four pilot and 46 operational minimum procedures to operate a civil single-engine, fixed-wing, single-pilot-configured UAS flying in beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) conditions. These recommendations are anticipated to support potential future aircrew procedure requirements for UAS larger than 55 lbs. operating in the National Airspace System (NAS). These procedures were validated using representative Control Stations in simulated environments.
A21: Integrating Expanded and Non-Segregated UAS Operations into the NAS: Impact on Traffic Trends and Safety
This research will provide further insight into the safe integration of small UAS through forecasting of expanded and non-segregated UAS operations and subsequently collecting data to inform the FAA's risk-based approach to safety rules, regulations, and revising SMS based on forecasted UAS operational needs and characteristics. The proposed research, by its design, supports two critical components of the UAS Integration Research Plan:
- Expanded Operations
- Non-Segregated Operations
Expanded operations over people and non-segregated operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) are anticipated to enable future UAS interoperability in controlled airspace with manned aircraft at varying altitudes and on instrument flight rules. Under this premise, UAS must be properly equipped with technologies that harmoniously exchange data and flight information. This research will serve to examine the avionics equipage and procedures requirements for establishing UAS interoperability with manned aircraft in controlled airspace and stand as a pillar to the FAA's phased integration approach by developing a quantitative framework for risk-based decision making to meet the growing operational needs and technological evolution of UAS.
A24: UAS Safety Case Development, Process Improvement, and Data Collection
This research relates to the development of the technical data requirements, test methods, risk assessments, safety risk management processes, data collection, and administrative processes/reporting used to inform safety cases in support of the UAS integration regulatory framework. It will develop a system to capture test objectives and categorize them consistent with the FAA's UAS Integration Research Plan functional areas and research domains. The analysis of these data will inform the development of regulatory products (i.e., rules, standards, policy, etc.) needed to reach UAS integration milestones. Finally, it will facilitate the query and reporting of data in a consistent format across the Test Sites.
A25: Develop Risk Based Training and Standards for Waiver Review and Issuance
Develop a framework for reusing existing waiver and exemption approvals that contributes to a repeatable process as well as develop guidance. The risk-based standards for waiver review will validate small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) industry standards, support standard development, and waiver strategies for sUAS necessary for their safe integration in the National Airspace System (NAS). The associated training will provide guidance to FAA waiver review evaluators on acceptable levels of safety.
A27: Establish Risk Based Thresholds for Approvals Needed to Certify UAS for Safe Operation
Risk-based thresholds for approvals will be needed to certify systems for safe operation.
A31: Safety Risk Mitigation for UAS On and Around Airports
This research is intended to address gaps in knowledge that are currently a barrier to the safe, efficient, and timely integrations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). This safety and risk analysis will focus on evaluation of UAS operations on and around the airport surface. The research will identify the potential risks with regards to UAS operations near manned aircraft, communication with these UAS operators (if necessary), and Air Traffic (AT) services (if not provided). This research may inform potential changes to FAA regulations (such as 7110.65) and industrial standards.
A37: UAS Standards Tracking, Mapping, and Analysis
Identify and track existing UAS standards, standards in progress, and any gaps where standards need to be developed. As UAS standards bodies identify new standard needs, the FAA is expected to track existing UAS standards, standards in progress, and any gaps where standards need to be developed. This research will evaluate the roadmap, identify standards that are complete, those that are needed, and examine potential areas of research. This will map to the UAS Integration Research Plan (UIRP).
A38: Cybersecurity Requirements for UAS Operations/Cybersecurity and Safety Literature Review
Establish a baseline model, guide, tool, or process to identify cybersecurity risks for expanded UAS operations.
A40: UAS Flight Data Research in Support of ASIAS (Aviation Safety Information and Analysis Sharing)
This research will aggregate high quality UAS flight data with commercial and general aviation flight data and surveillance data, in order to develop enhanced safety analyses for NAS stakeholders and to support UAS integration in the NAS.
A41: Investigate and Identify the Key Differences Between Commercial Air Carrier Operations and Unmanned Transport Operations
Investigate the differences between UAS cargo and passenger operations to determine future needs. An emerging role for the FAA will develop by working with the community to identify and address the key differences between unmanned and manned operations, opportunities, and challenges ahead underlying this likely development. The passenger transportation network ecosystem and its associated technologies are likely to be among the most complex aviation has ever seen and the opportunities to facilitate the full integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS) are enormous. The FAA needs to understand this environment and analyze the differences as they compare to traditional manned air transportation. These analyses, along with developing timelines, will enhance decision making and the research will highlight anticipated needs of the FAA to support further integration of UAS in air transportation operations in and across metropolitan areas including suburbs and exurbs.
A42: UAS Cargo Operations - From Manned Cargo to UAS Cargo Operations: Future Trends, Performance, Reliability, and Safety Characteristics
Study manned cargo and UAS cargo operations to identify future trends, performance, reliability, and safety characteristics. An emerging role for the FAA will develop by working with the community to identify and address the key differences between unmanned and manned operations, opportunities, and challenges ahead underlying this near-term development. The passenger transportation network ecosystem and its associated infrastructure and technologies are likely to be among the most complex aviation has ever seen and the opportunities to facilitate the full integration of UAS, by using what is available and outlining what will be needed, into the National Airspace System (NAS) are enormous. The FAA needs to understand this environment and take facilitating steps to prepare when the gradual transition to autonomy eventually arrives. This research will highlight anticipated needs of the FAA to support further integration of UAS in cargo operations.
A44: GPS and ADS-B Risks for UAS
Assess and explore effective, low cost, and easy to implement solutions to mitigate the risks associated with sUAS operations using GPS and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. This research is necessary to enable safe and secure automated sUAS navigation, and safe and secure automated sUAS Detect and Avoid operations.
A45: Shielded UAS Operations: Detect and Avoid (DAA)
Certain small UAS (sUAS) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations, such as structural inspection, may be in close proximity to structures that are collision hazards for manned aircraft. These types of operations that are in close proximity to manned aviation flight obstacles such that they provide significant protection from conflicts and collisions with manned aircraft are termed "shielded" operations. This work effort is intended to identify risks and recommend solutions to the FAA that enable shielded UAS operations. The work effort will identify risks, determine whether shielded operations can be made safe, to what degree UAS Detect and Avoid requirements can be reduced, and recommend UAS standoff distances from manned aviation flight obstacles.
A49: ASIAS Phase II
Create a prototype for aggregate unmanned flight data with commercial and GA surveillance to visualize and monitor enhanced safety analysis for NAS stakeholders and integrate with ASIAS and UAST in the future.
A54: Propose UAS Right-of-Way Rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations and Safety Recommendations
Right-of-Way rules are derived in part from the See-and-Be-Seen safety concept, the maneuverability limitations of aircraft types to give way, and other safety considerations. Ambiguity exist for certain UAS operations and the right-of-way rules that they should follow. Part 107.37 applies to sUAS and states that sUAS must give way to all other aircraft including those that overtake the sUAS. RTCA DO365 and RTCA DO365 UAS standards have been developed suggesting compliance with Part 91.113 where non-cooperative manned aircraft overtaking the UAS must give way and pass on the right of the UAS. There is ambiguity for mid-sized UAS that may be difficult for other pilots to see. Rules have yet to be developed for interactions between two unmanned aircraft or for UAS swarms. Right-of-way rules impact UAS Detect and Avoid requirements and the development of industry standards. This research will explore right-of-way rules for diverse UAS operations and make safety-based recommendations for consideration by FAA decision makers and UAS standards bodies.
A55: Identify Flight Recorder Requirements for UAS Integration into the NAS
The importance of fully understanding the root causes of accidents and incidents for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations increases as the UAS market matures towards passenger transport and cargo delivery. This research will perform a risk assessment and explore flight recorder requirements for a variety of UAS to include small UAS (sUAS), medium sized UAS, large UAS, and remotely piloted Urban Air Mobility (UAM) aircraft. The research will investigate potential unique flight data recorders (FDR) and cockpit voice recorders (CVR) differences between UAS types and traditional manned aircraft. It will also investigate requirements for remotely piloted UAM aircraft. It will perform flight crash testing of data recorders intended to support sUAS and medium sized UAS. Research findings will be shared with European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards bodies.