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.