Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ERAU-Worldwide 2013 Atlanta: Spending Time Getting to Know My Colleagues

This week I'm attending the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Conference in Atlanta, GA. So far I've been able to spend quality face to face time getting to know my fellow professors, leadership, and coworkers a little better. We've been attending briefings, enjoying meals together, and performing collaborative, team-building exercises. It isn't all fun and games though, we are spending plenty of time discussing goals and strategies to improve our programs, research, and teaching. Tomorrow, I will be briefing my colleagues in the College of Aeronautics on my experience incorporating concurrent development concepts into Embry-Riddle's online course development process. In the meanwhile, back to the fun. We are preparing to depart soon for the World of Coke in Downtown Atlanta for an evening sampling various beverages Coca-Cola produces and further strengthen the important relationships among colleagues at the premier aviation University, ERAU-Worldwide.

My team's solid control tower design, to lift and support a large cup filled with M&M's:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

AUVSI 2013-Washington DC

As I sit at Reagan National Airport waiting to board a flight home, my first year attending the AUVSI show is drawing to a close. I had a very productive couple of days meeting with UAS developers/manufacturers, attending relevant and timely presentations, networking with fellow alumni, and of course seeing the wide variety of unmanned air, ground, and maritime systems on display. Wow, what a show! 

Thanks to some early preparation with the AUVSI show mobile app, I had a detailed (and dynamically changeable) plan to attend several specific presentations, including:
-Who are the Navy's future unmanned aircraft operators and how will they be trained and integrated? (Stout, 2013)
-Closing the research gaps for UAS sense and avoid (Cook & Davis, 2013)
-Evaluating human-robot implicit communications using psychophysiology (Reinerman-Jones, 2013)
-ISIS+: A realistic ATM-UAS simulation environment (Pastor, 2013)
-Four operational barriers to integrating UAS into the NAS (Barstow, 2013)
-Unmanned aircraft system (UAS) airspace integration using notices to airmen (NOTAMs) for airspace user awareness (Harris, 2013)*
-Key considerations for the operation of commercial UAS airfields (Brooks, 2013)*
*Author/presenter was an ERAU alumni

One of the more interesting presentations I attended was from one of an ERAU-Worldwide colleague, Dr. David Ison, covering privacy implications associated with UAS operations, the 4th ammendment, and established case law precedents ("Privacy and Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration in the National Airspace System," Ison, Liu, & Vincenzi, 2013). The major take away I had from his well-received presentation was that it is not unreasonable to expect to see law enforcement use of UAS over 400 to 500 feet, as long as they do not use technology not readily available to or affordable by the general public. In other words, standard or high definition (HD) video is fine, while forward looking infrared (FLIR) or other thermal imaging is not (for now). 

While walking the floor I also had the opportunity to see some great examples of innovative and unique designs (e.g., hybrid fixed-wing/rotary-wing systems) from established firms (e.g., Lockheed Martin, Boeing/Insitu, AAI/Textron, ISR Group), small-emerging companies, and student design competitors (including multiple ERAU student teams). The show tends to spread the focus of coverage across the three major unmanned operational environments (e.g., air, ground, and maritime). So given my role with ERAU-Worldwide (UAS Discipline Chair), I opted to concentrate on air and UAS related exhibits/presentations. See below for some of the more interesting pictures from the floor of the show.

Please note that AUVSI will be changing format next year as it moves from August to May (12-15th) and returns to sunny Orlando, FL (Orange County Convention Center). So mark your calenders, get those Bermuda shorts ready, and start that long-distance walking regime (conferences are notoriously rough on the feet) because you will not want to miss it!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Preparing to Attend the 2013 AUVSI Show in Washington, DC

This year's Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) show starts on Monday (12 Aug) and runs through until Thursday in Washington D.C. During my initial preparations I found their mobile phone application, which they have provided to assist attendees plan and log their activities.

Google Android Version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=a2z.Mobile.AUVSI&hl=en

Apple iOS (iphone/iPad) Version: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/auvsi-2013/id453098337?mt=8

After spending an hour with the iOS (iPhone) version of the app, I have been able to:

1) Build and store the list of presentations I plan on attending (note in Sessions, stores in Planner->My Itinerary)

2) Build and store the list of Exhibitors (vendors) I would like to see on the floor (note in Exhibitors, stores in Planner->My Exhibitors)

3) Identify and store any meetings I have planned with Exhibitors (note in Exhibitor)

4) Review the floor plan to determine where specific Exhibitor booths are located

The app also has sections to record notes, review speaker biographies, separate information by tracks (i.e., domains; e.g., air, ground, and maritime), and stay apprised of current show news or information (e.g., Buzz or Twitter feed). I'm looking forward to attending this event to meet with and hear from some of the foremost experts in unmanned aerial system (UAS) development, research, and integration. Look for updates next week detailing some of the interesting topics and systems I see at the show.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Use of Modeling and Simulation to Evaluate Unmanned Aerial System Asset Allocation and Assignment

Modeling & simulation (M&S) can be used to support the assessment of UAS asset allocation and assignment to meet specific missions or tasks by providing the means to examine potential usage strategies (i.e., use cases) and effectiveness determination (in terms of cost and performance) of various UAS platforms or combination of platforms. Through the use of a simulation framework, terrain data specific to the operational environment, and models of mission specific objects (e.g., UAV platforms, vegetation, and subject/target objects), it would be possible to run multiple scenarios, platforms, and search patterns virtually; providing an opportunity to observe how the aircraft and associated sensors (e.g., Day TV, infrared [IR], and synthetic aperture radar [SAR]) would interact with the specific target environment. The results of such a research project may provide the framework for the development of a system to determine advantages and limitations of M&S use for UAS asset assignment evaluation, while identifying appropriate UAS platforms and flight profiles to obtain maximum mission effectiveness.

An example where the value of such M&S use could be exhibited is in support of a radiological disaster recovery and monitoring UAS project NASA has been discussing with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for the 2020 Mars Rover launch. A baseline for evaluation could be established for this specific project by modeling the terrain (i.e., Kennedy Space Center), environmental conditions (e.g., wind, precipitation, and temperature), size and location of exploded radioactive debris, and capabilities and operational flight profile of several UAS (group 1-5). By observing the interactions of the subject UAS in this scenario, it is envisioned that a recommendation could be made to NASA regarding what UAS assets would be most appropriate to support the mission, categorized by cost (e.g., asset acquisition, support, and operation) and capability (e.g., sensor acuity/fidelity, range, duration, and speed). Such a demonstration may provide the opportunity for further refinement of the concept (i.e., UAS asset allocation and assignment evaluation) and eventual development of a system or product to meet the needs of public and private UAS operators (e.g., government agencies, military, researchers, and commercial users).

This research is in the proposal stage and the team is looking for further contributors and partners from Industry, Academia, and Government.

Link to Abstract...