|Researchers awarded $1 million defense contract|
UND aerospace researcher Benjamin Trapnell and Douglas Marshall, director of the UND graduate aviation program, were awarded a $1 million U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) contract to work on a multidisciplinary unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) project. The outcome of their research will have a major impact on how and where UAS are developed, tested, and deployed.
Trapnell, assistant professor of aviation at Aerospace Sciences, and Marshall, received the contract for a project titled "Unmanned Aerial System Remote Sense and Avoid System and Advance Payload Analysis and Investigation."
"This is huge," says Trapnell, "because the global development of UAS, in which North Dakota now is set to play a vital role, aims to replace many current piloted aircraft applications." But there's a lot of work to be done, and a hefty chunk of that work will be performed at UND by a large team of researchers from several disciplines, including aerospace, engineering, nursing, and psychology.
Trapnell, Marshall, and their team are examining detect, sense, and avoid technology that must be fully functional aboard unmanned aircraft (UA) before they safely can fly any distance away from their home base. This new technology will enable a UA to detect, characterize, and fly around, or avoid, potential hazards in the air, such as a flock of birds, another aircraft, or a parachutist. Currently, UAs are largely unequipped to detect such aerial hazards; their operators on the ground, viewing the action from the UAs point of view remotely via onboard cameras and radars, must pilot their UA out of harm's way.
"This is thought to be the single biggest obstacle to the successful integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system," says Trapnell. The ground-based system we are developing would, in the interim, allow the operation, testing, and evaluation of unmanned aircraft in airspace that would have otherwise been restricted to manned aircraft operations.
"With this system," Trapnell explains, "manned and unmanned aircraft would be able to operate seamlessly within the same airspace." The civil unmanned aircraft industry and the Department of Defense are eagerly awaiting this technology as the key to the general use of unmanned aircraft, Trapnell says.
UND's UAS work includes several other researchers and other departments besides aerospace and the piece for which Trapnell and Marshall got their contract.
For more information, contact Benjamin Trapnell (aviation) at 777-4766, email@example.com or Douglas Marshall, director of aviation graduate program, 777-3557, firstname.lastname@example.org.