There is an increased need for autonomy in aircraft for tasks that are dangerous or not well suited to human pilots. These tasks are generally long duration, repetitive, highly precise, or require high speed response. All of these tasks are well suited to computer automation but current autonomous systems struggle to perform without human oversight and intervention, especially in off-nominal conditions.
Avilution proposes to solve this problem by providing resilient sensor fusion using its eXtensible Flight System (XFS) modular avionics software framework and high level decision capability through the X-Avionics’ Xavion application. XFS is a commercially available product that enables the rapid integration of disparate sensors and components into an integrated system. Avilution will expand upon this foundational capability by providing synthetic airspeed to data consumers that is derived using disparate sensors. Additionally, Xavion has an emergency glide path functionality that currently provides a pilot with an optimal route to a safe landing in the event of an engine failure. In this proposed effort, Avilution will combine the data aggregation and sensor fusion capabilities of XFS with the emergency glide path routing of Xavion into a robust system for autonomous aircraft.
The ultimate goal of this proposed effort is to increase both the reliability of autonomous aircraft systems and their high level decision capabilities. This technology will allow autonomous vehicles to better respond to abnormal conditions and increase overall system survivability. Avilution intends to market this technology for use on both manned and unmanned aircraft with applications for both commercial and DoD customers.
NASA has an increasing fleet of autonomous vehicles including the Global Hawk, Predator and Tiger Shark. These types of vehicles all have the potential to benefit from the improved fault tolerance and survivability of sensor fusion and the autonomous landing capabilities of Xavion to help preserve the vehicles, life, and property in the event of an engine failure.
This technology, delivered as software on Avilution’s XFS platform, can assist across the spectrum of automation of aircraft including both piloted vehicles and fully autonomous aircraft. The sensor fusion can improve data both for pilot displays and autonomous systems, while the landing assistance can provide guidance during emergency situations.