KalScott has developed a unique system for improving the safety of unmanned air vehicles and air taxis (aka Advanced Air Mobility, ot AAM vehicles). This is a hardware/software solution which can transmit alerting messages about UAV operations in legacy VHF airband communication protocol so that the alert can be heard and understood readily by human pilots and air traffic controllers. In effect, this Automated Airband Radio (AAR) is a bridge between legacy (VHF) and emergent communication protocols (like WiFi, 4G/LTE, 5G, etc). In Phase I, KalScott Engineering demonstrated proof-of-concept hardware in ground and flight testing. The system is based on a software-defined radio (SDR). Onboard is a processor which can take input from a GPS unit, co-relate that position on an aviation sectional chart, select the appropriate frequency for the airspace and compile the appropriate message. This is then broadcast over VHF. In Phase I, VHF transmissions from the SDR-based Automated Airband Radio were received and understood by human pilots at ranges from 0 to 8 nm, at altitudes from 0 to 4000 ft AGL. Both air-to-ground and ground-to-air tests were completed successfully. This therefore is a "gap filler" technology that can be used for high density, low altitude UAV and AAM operations, by providing alerting messages to proximal manned traffic. In Phase II, two rounds of prototype build/test will be performed. Data will be gathered to support FCC and FAA approvals. A US-first manufacturing plan will also be developed. KalScott has also secured matching funds for follow-on Phase 2 E and CCRPP projects for this technology.
NASA currently conducts flight tests under the UTM and AAM programs, where the AAR can be integrated. Also, NASA currently is involved in firefighting flights by UAVs in California. The AAR can serve as an automated alerting system, where helicopter and firefighting aircraft pilots can hear the alerts over standard aviation radios. NASA and the FAA personnel at the FAA Tech Center in Atlantic City indicated that the AAR may be applicable to the FAA's Universal Data Translator effort.
KalScott is also the prime contractor on a USAF project to develop unmanned ground vehicles for airfield sustainment roles. This device can be used to alert USAF pilots about robotic vehicles operating on the airfield via VHF airband broadcasts. We are also in discussion with several parties involved in the Smart Cities programs, where the digital data sharing enabled by the SDR can be useful.