NASA is responsible for breakthrough research to assure that adding UAS to the US Airspace is safe to both manned and unmanned aircraft. The FAA has made new rules that restrict small consumer and commercial UAS from operating beyond line of sight and over 500 feet in altitude but present day UAS controllers do not enforce these rules in hardware, and manual pilots cannot assure compliance with present day small UAS controls. Furthermore, while many UAS have GPS awareness, they have virtually no awareness of potential collision events.
Small outdoor UAVs for surveillance, small payload transport, and other applications are readily available in the commercial market and are remaking the lower altitude airspace. These units navigate through direct teleoperation within line of sight of the operator and controller. Some units also include GPS navigation so that they can accurately station-keep or move to a predetermined location and altitude. The missing technology for this kind of autonomous operation is obstacle detection and avoidance integrated with controls in a low SWaP-C form factor.
For this effort we developed and demonstrated a collision safe and FAA rules enforcing UAS controller technology and make it available widely for consumer UAS licensing for low cost.