NASA Ames reposts request for UTM research partners

NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) has reposted its request (https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=34469d19af9f5745ea2cb4bf2e0145eb&tab=core&_cview=0) to identify US-based public, private, and academic organizations to collaborate with NASA to conduct Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research and development with the collective goal of safely enabling these operations at lower altitudes by UTM system

“The collaboration will involve participating in future UTM technical capability levels. This notice also solicits interested parties’ questions, comments, suggestions, clarifications, and any data that would help the agency prepare for such collaboration. There will be no funds exchanged between NASA and collaborating parties. Potential collaborators who may consider responding include: UAS manufacturers, Personal aircraft vehicle manufacturers, UAS avionics and middleware industry representatives, UAS operators: Cargo Delivery, Precision Agriculture, and other UAS start up and mature companies, Software companies supporting UAS operations, Sensor manufacturers, Communication/navigation/surveillance providers, System integrators, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS test sites, Universities, academicians, researchers, Satellite communication, surveillance, tracking systems industry, System integrators, UAS Mission planning software systems, Ground station system developers, and Others who have capabilities to enable low altitude airspace operations.”

According to the request for partners:

“The goals of the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) include enabling large-scale, safe UAS operations in low-altitude airspace. For the purposes of this document, UTM is focused on operations in Class G airspace (initially 400 feet AGL and below). The UAS Traffic Management Project within ARMD’s Airspace Operations and Systems Program has been conducting simulations and field tests in levels of increasing capability to enable diverse vehicles, operations, and scenarios/missions at these altitudes. This research requires collaborating with many entities such as manufacturers; operators that include retailers, search and rescue, firefighting, science, and academia, etc.; communication, navigation, and surveillance system designers, airspace system developers, and system integrators; and FAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), FAA test sites, etc.

“The product of these field tests will be beneficial to all collaborating parties, NASA researchers, the FAA, the NOAA and National Weather Service (NWS), academia, UAS manufacturers and applications industry, avionics industry, and policy makers. Collaborating parties receive valuable performance data about their assets and ability to operate in the mixed airspace.

“NASA will test the algorithms and UTM capabilities to safely enable low altitude operations and operational requirements for wind/weather integration, airspace design/geo-fencing, sense-and-avoid/separation management, demand/capacity imbalance management, contingency management, and enabling requirements such as communications, navigation, and surveillance. Policy makers receive data to support the understanding of procedures, safety processes, and options for safe management of the low altitude airspace.

Interested parties can assume the following:

  • NASA will lead the development of the test objectives and schedule with the goal of conducting tests that are diverse in nature, both in terms of vehicle capabilities and applications. NASA will coordinate with the FAA for information and technology assessments.
  • The more the credible number of collaborators, the richer and more representative the tests, data, and results will be. Therefore, NASA has not a-priori set a limit on the number of collaborators.
  • All vehicles will have to go through the NASA Airworthiness process and/or demonstrate proof of process and airworthiness review conducted by the vehicle manufacturer or operator.
  • NASA will bear the costs involved in logistics of conducting tests, data collection, analysis, and report generation as well as UTM build development. However, NASA will not be acquiring or paying for the UAS, collaborating parties personnel involved in preparation of the tests, and activities associated with collaboration.
  • NASA Office of Chief Counsel will require each collaborating party to sign a Release Form. Generally, the Release Form will require collaborating parties to waive all claims against the U.S. Government and to indemnify the U.S. Government against third-party claims, for all NASA-sponsored activities during the UTM collaboration. The Release Form will also address the release of UTM test data to collaboration parties and the protection of collaborating parties’ proprietary data.
  • Collaborating parties will be required to provide proof of insurance having reasonable coverage amounts set by NASA. Also, collaborating parties will assume liability for any damage and injuries caused by their personnel or equipment.
  • Depending on the business use/missions/scenarios, some vehicles and associated missions may not be used in these collaborative tests.
  • Tests will be conducted at locations that are legally acceptable for the UTM testing.
  • Based on the test conditions and vehicle/scenario mix, NASA (and support contractors) will request Certificate of Authorization (COA) to conduct these tests.
  • NASA will develop UTM technical capability levels that will be incorporated in the field-testing. Further, NASA may use live, virtual, constructive environment to increase the complexity of the test conditions and scenarios.
  • NASA (or NASA-appointed contractors) will collect data and results related to UTM, which will be shared with all stakeholders that are involved in the study. Common data regarding overall results of the test will be shared with the FAA and all participants in the test. Vehicle or proprietary capability-specific data (e.g., accuracy of flying trajectories) will be provided only to the collaborating party responsible for that vehicle or capability.
  • NASA will be the arbiter for balancing the needs of various stakeholders.
  • As needed, further tests involving the models of cities or urban areas will be created and tested.

Interested parties are requested to respond to this notice with an information package. The information packages may be submitted at any time while this notice is active and shall be submitted via email only to arc-cal-utm-rfi@mail.nasa.gov.

(Image  -Test of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) technical capability Level 2 (TCL2) at Reno-Stead Airport, Nevada. During the test, five drones simultaneously crossed paths, separated by altitude. The tests were part of the NASA Ames UTM research programme)

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