ResilienX to investigate urban wind effects on drones and eVTOLs in NASA contract

ResilienX, Inc has announced it has been awarded Phase IIE and Phase III contracts by NASA to advance research into the impact of winds on uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) operations in urban environments. The research will be centered around NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) and the Hampton, VA region where NASA is hosting their High Density Vertiplex (HDV) effort, which feeds into NASA’s larger vision for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM).

Under a Phase II effort, says the company, ResilienX and TruWeather Solutions (TWS), researched scalable methodologies to close the weather gap for low altitude weather in urban environments. Phase III expands that research and demonstrates its scalability by extending from downtown Hampton, VA to the LaRC. With this expanded focus, the team will evaluate commercial implications of closing the wind data gap, to help maximize safety and efficiency of drone operations.

“This research will produce a scalable method to monitor weather sensor performance, which in turn will help enable deployment of cost-effective weather sensors around urban environments. The data from these sensors will inform urban wind models, which have utility for both flight safety and efficiency. Low altitude urban wind data will assist operators in avoiding areas of high turbulence exceeding the UA performance envelope and assisting with contingency management. A key element of the Phase III research is examining the effects of wind on battery life. By performing R&D in an instrumented environment where the wind profile for an operation can be measured, research will contribute to predicting battery usage. The resulting capability will help drive efficiency of high-density commercial operations by predicting required recharge times and enabling more multi-stop delivery routes. These efficiencies will help drive higher margins for operators who need to maximize the time the drone is in the air to make money.”

“Scaling infrastructure deployments of weather sensors is a hard, but necessary, task to enable scaled, urban drone operations. With UAS weather standards moving to data performance quantification rather than certified equipment, we can exponentially reduce sensor network costs,” said Andrew Carter, CTO of ResilienX. He added, “our partners are then able to use that data to inform vertiport wind conditions, flight routes, turbulent areas, safety, and battery implications. This is made possible, in part, through the ResilienX FRAIHMWORK® monitoring the health, performance, and data integrity of these sensors and informing and assisting with down-stream decision making.”

Nancy Mendonca, Deputy AAM Mission Integration Manager for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) at NASA, said “ResilienX is testing a critical safety element for performance-based weather; the ability to monitor and assess the quality of the weather observations.  Determining that a sensor is providing accurate data without sending a person out to validate the sensor’s data will be essential to cost effective, reliable sensor networks informing uncrewed, automated advanced air mobility (AAM) operations along with today’s emergency medical evacuation, general aviation, and helicopter flights.”

The Longbow Group, LLC will support ResilienX by coordinating the local planning and establish a cybersecurity architecture with NASA LaRC to get weather sensor and radar data from the NASA CERTAIN Range to Longbow’s PEGASUS Data and Operations Center. This activity will establish a secure IoT data exchange point in Hampton, Virginia, as part of a build up to a sustainable AAM ecosystem in Hampton Roads. “We are excited to work with ResilienX and its partners in this SBIR to assist in laying the foundation of a scalable and secure IoT data exchange infrastructure” said Marco Sterk, CEO of The Longbow Group.

As part of the Phase III effort, ResilienX is also partnering with Spright and PABLO AIR for flight testing and validation of the research in live commercial environments. “Having the right information at the right time is what allows our decision-making to be both predictive, and if necessary, reactive, in all phases of our flight operations,” says James Rector, VP of Operations at Spright. “From mission planning to real-time monitoring in Spright’s Remote Operations Control Center (ROCC), weather is one of many associated elements we monitor using FRAIHMWORK, to ensure resiliency across our operations.  Spright looks forward to working with ResilienX, NASA, and other SIBR partners to further the research and understanding of boundary layer weather and the associated effects on UAS endurance.”

(Image: Shutterstock)

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