ASTM International Sense-and-Avoid Standard, for Use with UAV Certifications, Adopted by U.S. Department of Defense
The U.S. Department of Defense recently recognized an ASTM International standard to govern the performance of automated sense-and-avoid systems it procures for its unmanned aircraft. ASTM Committee F38 on Unmanned Aircraft Systems developed the standard, F 2411, Specification for Design and Performance of an Airborne Sense-and-Avoid System, last year.
The Federal Aviation Administration has implicitly relied on the eyesight of human pilots as the “last chance” means of avoiding midair collisions when radar coverage is absent or transponders are inoperable or not installed. Without a human onboard, unmanned aircraft have lacked this “see and avoid” capability. A number of optical, infrared and radar systems are now emerging to provide what is termed “an equivalent level of safety” by automating the see-and-avoid capability of humans. ASTM F 2411 provides the first common yardstick against which to measure the performance and quality of such systems.
Although originating from an unmanned aviation requirement, F 2411 applies equally to improving the safety of manned aviation. Extensive analysis underlying F 2411 shows that human-based see-and-avoid is insufficient in certain midair scenarios. Automated sense-and-avoid systems could complement human shortfalls, thus helping to reduce the dozen or more midair collisions between manned aircraft that occur every year over the United States.
As for the eventual cost of such systems, because F 2411 does not dictate using specific technologies, its stipulations need not drive overly expensive solutions. The marketplace is expected to produce a range of sense-and-avoid equipment that will include low cost solutions.
Mike Goy, Defense Standardization Program Office, Fort Belvoir, Va.
Mike Fagan, F38 Chairman, SRA International, Inc., Alexandria, Va.
ASTM staff: Dan Schultz
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