SSCI and MIT team up to develop and test sense and avoid capability for NAVAIR

July 16, 2009 by  

WOBURN, MA, July 16, 2009 – The Naval Air Warfare Center today awarded Scientific Systems a Phase I SBIR contract to develop and test a system that could help manned and unmanned systems more safely fly in the same airspace.  Expanding SSCI’s partnership with key providers of defense technology, additional technical expertise for this effort will be provided through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In this effort, the SSCI-led team will develop and test the on-board Fast Online pREdiCtion of Aircraft State Trajectories (FORECAST) system, using minimum state information such as 3-D position of a threat aircraft, to generate predicted trajectories and reachable sets T seconds into the future. It will be based on a nonlinear constrained stochastic model of aircraft dynamics involving rapid maneuvering, advanced nonlinear filtering techniques, and the design of the predicted exclusion zone for the aircraft operating in the vicinity of the threat aircraft. The algorithms used to develop the FORECAST technology will include: multi-model nonlinear filtering using Interacting Multiple Models; Extended Kalman Filter; Fokker Planck Equation; and exclusion zone calculation using stochastic feedback version of the Rapidly-exploring Random Trees algorithm. In Phase I, we will test the FORECAST system on a simplified scenario simulation. The Option will include extensive testing on a higher-fidelity simulation. In Phase II, we will continue algorithm development, perform extensive simulations and flight testing at MIT”s RAVEN facility, and develop the FORECAST software toolbox. Our academic partner, Prof. Jonathan How of MIT, brings in a wealth of expertise and experience in the area of 4-D trajectory planning, autonomous UAV control, multi-agent collaboration, and advanced flight test facilities.

Improved capability in mid-air collisions predictions leading to fewer nuisance warning, increased user acceptance, and integration of unmanned aerial systems into the National Airspace is a key technology component for the safety of the air vehicles and its applications. Homeland Defense and law enforcement will also benefit from these technologies. Commercial applications of trajectory prediction techniques and systems exist in areas such as air traffic control and space situational awareness.

Being funded to do this work moves Scientific Systems closer to its goal of enabling intelligent autonomy for unmanned systems by developing one aspect of the “brains and nervous system” necessary for intelligent autonomy.

About Scientific Systems Company, Inc.
Scientific Systems Company, Inc. (SSCI) pioneers products and technologies that provide the intelligence for unmanned ground, air and maritime vehicles to autonomously and collaboratively accomplish missions in difficult environments. A leading developer of technology solutions for defense and industrial suppliers, SSCI is one of the top 20 recipients of Small Business Innovation Research awards in the U.S. and is recognized by the U.S. Navy and Army for its record of successful technology transitions. A privately held company based in Massachusetts, SSCI collaborates with a network of defense industry prime contractors and consultants, drawing on an accumulated investment of over $150 million in advanced research and development funding.

Greg Moeller
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