In early March 2013, ARCAA received its first SPAN-ADIS system. Once the NovAtel-ADIS system was delivered, the Project ResQu team commenced evaluation and flight testing of the GPS/INS systems onboard the ScanEagle. “We managed to 3D design the components of the payload, developed the required software, performed integrated comprehensive over system tests, passed flight readiness reviews and received encouraging early performance results,” said Bratanov. “The most exciting thing was that it took us only one week from physical delivery of the just released SPAN-ADIS to the system being successfully flight tested onboard the ScanEagle platform.”
The Project ResQu DAA system is made up of a single board computer with an integrated multicore Graphic Processing Unit (GPU). The computer acquires precisely synchronized data from the multi-pixel Electro-Optical (EO) sensor and the NovAtel positioning system. The data then undergoes multiple stages of processing, which involves stabilization, spatial/temporal filtering, decision making, and taking action.
Later in 2013, the integrated DAA system was successfully tested onboard the ScanEagle UAV using multiple collision-course (and avoidance) encounters with the ASL.
The series of flight tests were performed in non-segregated civilian airspace near an airport located in Queensland, Australia. The tests allowed the detection performance of the system to be assessed under a variety of environmental conditions and refined key trade-off dependencies of the DAA system for a small UAV.
In the world’s first successful flight trials for a UAV of this size, the DAA system successfully detected and immediately reported the collision threat to the ground-based remote pilot of the ScanEagle UAV who implemented a collision avoidance maneuver.
Bratanov said, “During the project, we benefited from regular ADIS-SPAN system updates and refinements, leading to improved GPS/INS system accuracy as the project evolved. This contributed to better image stabilization, which is a key task in the DAA system.”
“The SPAN system provided accurate positioning and attitude data, which is vital to collision avoidance. Moreover, the system provided stabilization of the images acquired by the COTS camera on board,” Bratanov said. “This is another critical part of DAA, as one system requirement is that before the image is processed it must be stabilized and compensated for aircraft ego-motion.”
The research team plans to publish a study comparing inertial measurements techniques and other stabilization methods for the DAA system later this year.