SBIR Phase I: Design And Implementation Of A Self-Contained Sensor For 3 -Dimensional State Estimation And Ground-Based Sense-And-Avoid System For Small Unmanned Aerial Systems.

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

SkySpecs, LLC
3744 Plaza Dr, Suite 5B
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is the development of a commercial UAS positioning and sense-and-avoid technology that will enable future UAS to operate safely in the NAS while delivering revolutionary new capabilities in emergency response, search and rescue, law enforcement, infrastructure inspection (e.g. wind turbines, bridges, road), agriculture, forestry, and a multitude of other commercial applications. After over 5 years of debate, in November 2013 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a 10 year roadmap for integration of commercial UAS into the NAS, specifically stating the need for development of a multi-sensor airborne sense-and-avoid system across all certified UAS. The manufacturability and wide commercial deployment of the proposed sensor suite will therefore also enable domestic UAS manufacturers to mitigate the regulatory uncertainty surrounding their products and catch up to their overseas counterparts who are already serving the multi-billion dollar global market for UAS. In addition to supporting U.S. technology leadership, the resurgence of domestic manufacturing, and the growth of an entirely new industry, this project will also enable parallel advances in related areas such as collision avoidance systems for autonomous automobiles, location awareness for handheld electronics, and plug-and-play electronics integration and miniaturization. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will demonstrate the feasibility of deploying a novel, integrated sensor suite to enable accurate position estimates and sense-and-avoid capabilities for small Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operating in the highly-regulated National Air Space (NAS). Currently, UAS are not integrated into the NAS due to regulatory and technological limitations. The uncertain regulatory climate is fast evolving toward a regime in which major technological advances in robotic situational awareness and sense-and-avoid capabilities will be required for UAS integration into the NAS. Today?s state-of-the-art UAS are remote controlled and gather rudimentary position estimates from Global Positioning System (GPS) and pilot feedback. This project will demonstrate a UAS sensor package that enables direct interface with current and proposed NAS infrastructure, remains fully functional when GPS is unavailable, and exceeds positioning capabilities of piloted vehicles. The sensor package will integrate a 360° camera, inertial measurement unit, GPS receiver, pressure sensor, and visual odometry software into a single, on-board device enabling Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) for precise vehicle positioning and communication with nearby aircraft. Completion of this Phase I SBIR project willenable the introduction of a disruptive navigation technology into what will become a multi-billion dollar domestic UAS market.