SA3: Small Autonomous, Sensor Agnostic, Sense and Avoid

Period of Performance: 09/08/2016 - 09/11/2018


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Scientific Systems Company, Inc.
500 West Cummings Park Array
Woburn, MA 01801
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Currently small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) are limited in their ability to autonomously fly in complex, cluttered, environments. This significantly limits the utility of small tactical UAVs to the warfighter/squad who must manually control the vehicle. Small UAVs require: a) scalable autonomous survival behaviors to avoid collision with environmental structure and moving objects; b) Low size, weight, power, and cost. The SSCI SA3 system (Small Autonomous, Sensor Agnostic, Sense and Avoid) addresses these two challenges through bio-inspired reactive controller and visual threat-estimation algorithms. SA3 is built around a Steering Field which fuses obstacle representations from sensors of multiple modalities and combines them with the current navigation waypoint to generate reactive steering commands, avoiding obstacles while navigating. In the current program we will demonstrate SA3 with visual Expansion Rate technologies for the detection of self-moving objects (other aircraft, vehicles, people, etc) and environmental structure (walls, the ground, etc). In Phase I we designed the SA3 system architecture, performed a limited data collect, and demonstrated how key system components enable unassisted airborne navigation. In Phase II, SSCI will work with one of our existing UAV partners to demonstrate the SA3 system in flight on a small UAV.