Autonomous Command, Control and Communication for Unmanned Aircraft Operations in the Terminal Control Area

Period of Performance: 01/30/2008 - 11/29/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Mosaic Atm, Inc.
540 Fort Evans Road, Suite 300
Leesburg , VA 20176
Principal Investigator


The current command and control paradigm for management of air traffic is highly dependent on voice communication. This approach has benefited the development of Air Traffic Control (ATC) over the last century in many ways, including a low-level of required aircraft equipage and the ability to handle contingency situations and adapt to new requirements easily. However, the reliance on voice communication in ATC operations presents challenges to the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs). The remote pilot must interpret each ATC command, direct the aircraft accordingly, and communicate the appropriate response back to ATC. In this proposed effort, we apply advanced speech recognition concepts to the interpretation of ATC communications to enable autonomous communication between ATC and the Unmanned Aircraft (UA), removing the remote pilot from the communication loop between the UA and ATC. The key challenge in this approach is to ensure the required level of accuracy and reliability of the ATC speech recognition. To achieve complete autonomy, the UA must also be able to generate and transmit an appropriate response to ATC clearances. Thus, we do not require a speech recognition capability alone, but, rather, we require a fully autonomous command and control capability on-board the UA.