Research and Development
We’ve advanced high-value applications across the UAS industry by focusing on foundational technologies. Our broad research and development portfolio encompasses hardware, software, and process-oriented projects in areas crucial to successful drone integration.
This fundamental research has formed the basis for unique waivers and permissions that have created new business opportunities for our partners and expanded the potential of the UAS industry as a whole. It has also led to a rigorous process for developing safety cases that has become a model in the industry for systematic evaluation and mitigation of operational risks.
UAS Traffic Management
MAAP has been heavily engaged in UTM research since 2016. We led complex, large-scale tests in three cycles of NASA’s UTM test series and subsequently won contracts for both iterations of the FAA’s follow-on UTM Pilot Program — the only test site asked to participate two years in a row.
Our UTM research is enhanced by productive, long-term collaborations with leading USS providers. This model ensures that the traffic-management architecture developed and tested through these programs will support a UTM ecosystem that can effectively enable meaningful industry applications.
Detect and Avoid
Detect-and-avoid is the central prerequisite for broad UAS integration in the NAS. This multifaceted challenge will require a dynamic combination of solutions that can address various applications and operational contexts. We have tested a wide range of technologies in accordance with emerging standards from RTCA and ASTM, including ground and airborne radar, acoustic sensors, and others.
MAAP utilizes in-house simulation capabilities to evaluate end-to-end performance of DAA systems. These simulations utilize experimentally derived probabilistic sensor and ownship models to evaluate the full range of possible encounter geometries in a statistically meaningful way. These simulation tools enable fine tuning of alerting timelines, avoidance maneuvers, and operational volumes to define an overall DAA system that meets the required level of safety.
As UTM and DAA technologies mature, advancing towards the sophistication needed to safely enable BVLOS flights, communications architectures capable of relaying safety-critical information over longer distances is coming into focus as a crucial issue.
Technology and performance standards in this area are evolving in tandem, demanding new test methods to assess their performance. By developing protocols for evaluating new communications technology against emerging standards, our research will inform future standards development, hardware and software refinement, and rulemaking.
Operations Over People
MAAP has broken new ground in enabling operations over people and moving vehicles by pioneering empirical methods for accurately evaluating impact risk. We have partnered on this work with Virginia Tech’s nationally renowned Center for Injury Biomechanics. Their team’s unparalleled expertise in understanding injury risk and designing relevant impact tests, combined with our operational knowledge of UAS use cases, flight patterns, and failure modes, allowed us to develop rigorous, real-world test methods that provide the data necessary to support waivers and permissions for our partners.