NASA tests eVTOL autonomy software

NASA tests eVTOL autonomy software

UNITED STATES - Using software that provides safe and reliable flight paths, autonomous air cabs could create a new era of transportation opportunities for passengers and cargo, shortening travel time, NASA reported.

The agency said that from urban centers to rural communities, these automated air cabs could grant users unprecedented access to the world around them.

However, before the automation software can be used to fly, it must be developed and tested to ensure accuracy as well as safety.

NASA's Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) researchers at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, have been developing automation software as part of a collaboration with Sikorsky and DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

This research will test the responsiveness of the software, using two specialized helicopters as surrogate air cabs.

Using customized test tablets, with programmed flight paths, software developers and pilots run software through accurate simulations of air-to-air encounters, allowing for a variety of conflict scenarios to test algorithms.

"Software design begins with conceptualizing what future AAM vehicle operations might look like, along with flight behavior scenarios," said Ethan Williams, lead software developer.

Williams stated that from the results, they will refine the software requirements under development to behave as expected and enable the proposed AAM air cab operations.