Work Item
ASTM WK58931

New Test Method for Evaluating Aerial Drone Maneuvering and Payload Functionality in Open Lanes and Scenarios: Position, Traverse, Orbit, Inspect, Recon

1. Scope

The purpose of this test method is to specify the apparatuses, procedures, and performance metrics necessary to quantitatively evaluate the drone capability and remote pilot proficiency involved in accurately maneuvering through designated positions and orientations in open space to identify objects of interest on or near the ground. This test method applies to aerial systems operated remotely from a standoff distance appropriate for the intended mission. The system includes a remote operator in control of all functionality and any assistive features or autonomous behaviors that improve the effectiveness or efficiency of the overall system. This test method may be performed anywhere the specified apparatuses and environmental conditions can be implemented as described. Results should be considered within the context of related test methods when comprehensively evaluating robotic system capabilities.


small unmanned aircraft systems, UAS, sUAS, GPS, optical flow, hold position, pose holding accuracy


Users of aerial drones weighing less than 25 kg (55 lbs) at takeoff, also known as small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), need ways to measure whether a particular drone can perform specific missions in unstructured, complex, and often hazardous environments. These missions require various combinations of elemental capabilities. Each capability can be represented as a test method with an associated apparatus and procedure enabling repeatable and reproducible measures of performance with objective results. These test methods can be conducted individually or in operationally relevant sequences and combinations to evaluate drone capabilities and remote pilot proficiency. The results measure the reliability of the drone and remote pilot to perform essential mission tasks.  A series of complementary test lanes enable users to evaluate a wide spectrum of intended missions.

The ASTM International Standards Committee on Homeland Security Applications (E54) specifies these standard tests to facilitate comparisons across different testing locations using drones of various sizes and capabilities within the designated weight class. These test methods are inexpensive, easy to fabricate, and simple to use so they can be replicated widely by organizations or individuals to measure their own drones and pilots. Resulting trial scores are comparable no matter where or when the testing occurs.

These standard tests support drone researchers, manufacturers, and other organizations in different ways. Researchers use these standard tests to understand mission requirements, encourage innovation, and demonstrate break-through capabilities. Manufacturers use these standard tests to evaluate design decisions, integrate emerging technologies, and harden systems. Various other organizations use these standard tests to guide purchasing, make deployment decisions, and measure remote pilot proficiency for credentialing. Examples include emergency response operations, critical infrastructure inspection, industrial and commercial applications, and even recreational pilots.

The title and scope are in draft form and are under development within this ASTM Committee.


Developed by Subcommittee: E54.09

Committee: E54

Staff Manager: Kevin Shanahan

Work Item Status

Date Initiated: 05-07-2017

Technical Contact: Adam Jacoff

Item: 000