The day is not far off when you look up in the sky and see drones instead of stars. Well perhaps not literally but you know what I mean. These things are getting to be common, and soon we will be talking about drone congestion. Airline pilots are already concerned about drones on approach. Birds, of course, have taken a more direct approach to the problem of airspace management!
Handling un-serviceability – NASA to the rescue
Researchers at NASA have (hopefully in their spare time) developed systems that help drones detect when their components are about to fail. The software, called Safe2Ditch, has modules that monitor the condition of all critical components. These include the battery, motor, control surfaces, airframe, or even cargo that could be causing balance issues.
Once the software detects a significant problem, it can figure out if the drone needs to make an emergency landing or can it be allowed to limp back to home base. If the drone is sophisticated enough, Safe2Ditch can even use alternative methods of control like using asymmetric engine settings to help steer the drone. If there is an IR (infrared) camera on board, it can be used to detect heat signatures of people or animals in the landing (or crash) zone and try to avoid them on the way down.
Drones raining down? Hopefully not
Safe2Ditch is primarily a circuit board with on-board software. It interfaces with the autopilot and camera of the drone. Experience gained with the solution will probably help NASA design better recovery modules of its future space shuttles and rockets. If that happens then, the effort will not have been in vain.
NASA is hoping that drone manufacturers will eventually buy licenses to Safe2Ditch and build the capability into their aircraft.
Drone traffic management – A looming nightmare?
The FAA is working to keep manned airplanes safe from drones. If the numbers of drones increase as they are expected to, who will ensure that drones don’t crash into each other? The good news is that there are trials underway to help drones avoid other drones. The technology exists, however, protocols have to be sorted out. How will drones talk to other drones and Air Traffic Control? Will hybrid control systems emerge? Will we need to revamp our approach to Air Traffic Management completely? This industry is still in its infancy and me for one look forward to the innovative breakthroughs!
David King Chief Technical Officer
Serving as the Chief Technology Officer, David is responsible for the discovery and implementation of new technologies that yield competitive advantages while working closely with Executive Management to develop strategies to increase revenue and performs cost-benefit and return-on-investment analysis.
In October 2005, David joined AEgis Technologies as Director of the Simulation Development Group. During that time, David helped formulate the direction of AEgis’ software development efforts to ensure maximum reusability, thereby speeding ongoing development while reducing costs. His focus is technology transfer to commercial products and product development. Under his leadership, the Simulation Development Group developed and fielded over 8000 UAS training systems across the DOD. David has held the title of Vice President, Simulation Development and most recently, Executive Vice President, Technology Solutions Division.
With more than 25 years in the Modeling, Simulation, and Training industry – and having served in product design and development, technology advancement, project management, and leadership positions. David is a recognized leader and innovator in the MS&T industry, having co-founded, matured and sold a two-man start-up company into a highly-successful small business (CG2, Inc.) in just seven years with no outside venture capital or investments. In addition to being recognized locally as an “Outstanding Small Business” for three consecutive years by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
Before co-founding CG2, David spent eight years in the US Army in missile-related fields. He worked for Electronic Associates Inc. and later AMTEC Corporation at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL, on a broad range of projects including the Sensor Vision III Real-Time IR Scene Generator, JAVELIN, STINGER, CHAPARRAL BAT, AIT, and THAAD HWIL simulations.
Specialties: Modeling, Simulation and Training. Hardware in the Loop, real-time simulations.