Significant Progress in Ohio in software development for safety in Electric Vertical Take Off, Flight, and Landing
With each new achievement in the development of advanced air mobility (AAM) software, the skies become safer not only for uncrewed aerial systems, commonly referred to as “drones,” but also for electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL).
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, AAM is defined as, “an air transportation system that carries individuals and property using aircraft, such as remotely piloted, autonomous, or vertical take-off and landing aircraft, including those powered by electric or hybrid-electric propulsion, in both controlled and uncontrolled airspace.”
NASA’s uncrewed aerial system (UAS) traffic management documentation states that AAM seeks to integrate uncrewed aerial systems and sustainable aircraft like eVTOL’s, which require the development of the physical infrastructure of “vertiports” as well as the evolution of the digital infrastructure of a highly automated framework of operations.
With the strategic investments by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the United States Air Force in initiatives such as SkyVision, a ground-based detect-and-avoid system for drone operators, Ohio has been a leader in this space since the inception of the AAM concept. Ohio continues to invest in enabling AAM capabilities, with the most recent example being systems for enabling operators to exchange flight and location information. The sharing of operation and location data helps prevent flight plans from overlapping in time and space. This is the most fundamental foundation of air safety for both crewed and uncrewed vehicles and a foundation upon which additional technology can be built.
In addition to increasing capacity of sharing flight operation and location information, one Ohio company, CAL Analytics, is improving the technology behind detection and avoidance for AAM vehicles. The Ohio-based company is working with ODOT to establish low-altitude airspace tracking services by deploying various sensors and communication systems for a scalable statewide network to enable AAM operations. These systems help provide the basis for a AAM centric digital infrastructure so that operations can function seamlessly throughout the state.
According to Dr. Sean Calhoun, CAL Analytics Managing Director, “We’ve been working with ODOT on setting up mechanisms for the State and ODOT to monitor and manage the AAM ecosystem at large. Airspace monitoring, communication systems, and other aspects of the AAM digital infrastructure being developed in Ohio are critical for operationalization of AAM, and ODOT has been a real leader in that respect. CAL is working with ODOT and NASA, as part of a Space Act Agreement, to develop the standard operating procedures for how this technology is going to work and what roles each user is going to have in that AAM ecosystem. We are looking at developing systems and procedures to ensure the AAM operations occur efficiently and safely, thus keeping this industry moving forward.”
The company has developed a commercial software solution called the Contingency Management Platform (CMP) to provide various AAM services including flight planning, monitoring, deconfliction services and In-time System-wide Safety Assurance (ISSA).
The CMP was developed out of an Ohio Federal Research Network-funded R&D project that took place from December 2019 to June 2021. Funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education, the Ohio Federal Research Network is an Ohio-wide R&D funding program managed by Parallax Advanced Research in collaboration with the Ohio State University. As part of its mission, the Ohio Federal Research Network fosters statewide university and industry research collaborations that meet the mission critical needs of Ohio’s federal laboratories. The CMP is directly aligned with one of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) six focus areas: the in-time System-wide Safety Assurance (ISSA). ISSA provides a continuum of information, analysis, and assessment that supports awareness and action to mitigate risks to safety in UAS operations. CAL Analytics’ CMP technology establishes what is essentially an ISSA system for Ohio UAS operations.
Dr. Calhoun described how the collaboration with government entities and funding sources has been critical. “The community is still trying to figure out how these technologies are going to be operationalized. So, having the government resources to continue development, maturation and evaluations of our technology and determining how it supports operationalization before scaling is essential.”
As the AAM market continues to grow in Ohio and the Nation, the urgency to reduce and deter threats and survey larger areas in less time increases. Technologies like CAL Analytics’ CMP are critical to reducing and deterring threats to AAM.
About Parallax Advanced Research
Parallax Advanced Research is a 501(c)(3) private nonprofit research institute that tackles global challenges through strategic partnerships with government, industry, and academia. It accelerates innovation, addresses critical global issues, and develops groundbreaking ideas with its partners. With offices in Ohio and Virginia, Parallax aims to deliver new solutions and speed them to market. In 2023, Parallax and the Ohio Aerospace Institute formed a collaborative affiliation to drive innovation and technological advancements in Ohio and for the Nation. Ohio Aerospace Institute plays a pivotal role in advancing the aerospace industry in Ohio and the nation by fostering collaborations between universities, aerospace industries, and government organizations and managing aerospace research, education, and workforce development projects. More information about both organizations can be found at the Parallax and OAI websites.
About Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN)
The OFRN has the mission to stimulate Ohio’s innovation economy by building statewide university and industry research collaborations that meet the requirements of Ohio’s federal laboratories, resulting in the creation of technologies that drive job growth for the State of Ohio. The OFRN is a program managed by Parallax Advanced Research in collaboration with the Ohio State University and is funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
About CAL Analytics
CAL Analytics is a small business focusing on the development of aviation and autonomous systems. Located in Dayton, OH and founded in 2010, CAL has expertise in navigation systems, remote sensing, signal analysis, and information fusion. CAL is a leader in UAS Traffic Management (UTM) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) technology, offering airspace management, mission management, detect and avoid, and in-time system-wide safety assurance (ISSA) solutions. Our mission is to provide agile and rigorous approaches to bring new technologies to the world.