Future Trends

NASA and Partners Developing Automation Software for Advanced Air Mobility Vehicle

Optionally manned

Black Hawk helicopter

NASA and Partners Developing Automation Software for Advanced Air Mobility Vehicle

NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility researchers are collaborating with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Sikorsky to develop software for safe automated flights carrying passengers and cargo.

The research, which is being conducted at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, will eventually test the software installed on two highly specialized helicopters as experimental air taxis.

Ethan Williams, the project’s lead software developer, said the software’s design starts with the conceptualization of how advanced air mobility vehicle operations and flight behavior scenarios will shape up in the future.

The researchers and participating pilots use customized tablets with scripted flight paths to test-run software through air-to-air simulation encounters, opening a variety of conflict scenarios for testing algorithms, NASA said.

Upon reaching the flight stage, the research team will use as air-taxi surrogates the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft, a modified S-76B helicopter, and Sikorsky’s optionally piloted vehicle Black Hawk helicopter.

Scott Howe, a NASA pilot in the project, said the research team is confident with the software’s capabilities of interacting with the flight control systems and safely executing multiple software-controlled maneuvers in a single flight.

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Tags: advanced air mobility air taxi automation software DARPA Future Trends NASA Sikorsky