Electric air vehicles (EAVs) and urban air mobility (UAM) are emerging as new and innovative modes of air transportation. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are increasingly performing all manner of commercial operations, including delivery of medical supplies, inspection of pipelines and railway tracks, crop monitoring, search and rescue, and public safety, to name a few. The sensitivity of aviation to weather hazards increases as the size of an aircraft decreases. On-demand aviation has the potential to transform UAM into a futuristic mode of aerial ride-sharing to cross metropolitan areas through the airspace, thus avoiding congestion on roads. One can envision (as the Uber Elevate team does) a future where EAVs that take off and land vertically will enable rapid, reliable transportation between and within suburbs and cities.
In response to NASA SBIR Topic #A1.09, Blue Storm Associates, Inc. dba PEMDAS Technologies and Innovations proposes to conduct foundational research to better characterize ice accretion conditions (including analyses of ice shapes, types, intensities) on a limited class of EAVs. In addition to a primary focus on icing, we will assess the feasibility of developing a multi-sensor suite for in-situ environmental characterization and weather hazard identification for use by EAVs. A conceptual design for the IWaL (Icing, Winds and Lightning; pronounced “eyewall”) system will be developed. Findings and results will shape Phase II “performance mapping” and prototype development efforts.
Once mature, the IWaL system will deliver an unprecedented level of enhanced situational awareness (SA) relative to weather hazard identification. The enhanced SA relative to icing, wind, and lightning hazards will facilitate proactive decision making and maneuver operations. Enhancement of detect-and-avoid capabilities will facilitate acceptance and certification of EAVs for operation within the National Air Space and enhance their economic viability.
The IWaL system will provide the needed advanced warnings of anticipated icing related performance degradations, along with identification of wind and lightning hazards. This will facilitate proactive decision making and in-flight maneuver operations to avoid these hazards. This detect-and-avoid capability will facilitate acceptance and certification of electric air vehicles for operation within the National Air Space and general acceptance into the broader commercial market.
Potential NASA Applications are applicable here as well. Enhanced detect-and-avoid capabilities relative to weather hazards will be complementary to a number of different market sectors, to include: