Dayton, Ohio—Sinclair Community College has been an academic contributor to several Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN)-funded projects, including Regional Unmanned Traffic Management System (RUTMS),” Optical-Radar Sensor Fusion for UAV Onboard Detect and Avoid, Integrated Optical-Radar Sensor Fusion System for Air Space Awareness, and Affordable LIDAR Technologies for IntegraTion and Unmanned Deployment (ALTITUDE). The projects contribute to Ohio’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) strategy and fulfill critical needs of Ohio’s federal laboratories.
RUTMS was conducted from December 2018 to January 2022 and was led by the University of Cincinnati partnership with Simlat, Demeter Technologies, Inc., and Sinclair Community College and its government stakeholder was the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The technology is an infrastructure that can be used for an air traffic management task, such as allowing unmanned aircraft with differing digital control systems to avoid each other and other manned aircraft operating in a confined space.
The RUTMS project team leveraged RouteMaster, a digital infrastructure developed by the University of Cincinnati, to develop a universal translator that downlinks telemetry data and converts it to the Piccolo format as required by SkyVision. SkyVision is a ground-based detect-and-avoid radar system at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport in Springfield, Ohio. RouteMaster’s protocol agnostic inputs allow SkyVision to leverage data feeds from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) radars to do simple ground-based sense and avoid functions.
Sentera PHX UAS launch for a RUTMS demo from OFRN Round 3
Sinclair contributed to the project by flying Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for 100 operations days, collecting different types of autopilot telemetry data, providing data to the University of Cincinnati translator development team, and assisting with translator demonstrations. Sinclair also has an intellectual property stake in the translator.
“The RUTMS project has been particularly helpful for entities that use autopilots and telemetry formats that are different from Piccolo,” said Dr. Andrew Shepherd, executive director and chief scientist for Unmanned Aerial Systems at Sinclair Community College, and principal investigator on various FAA-funded UAS projects. “We’re exceptionally lucky to be a part of the research and development process for many of the UAS technologies that are making advanced air mobility a safe reality.”
Optical-Radar Sensor Fusion for UAV Onboard Detect and Avoid
This project was led by GhostWave, Inc. and funded by OFRN’s third funding round from March 2018 to October 2020. The project’s radar systems were invented by The Ohio State University and are being commercialized by GhostWave, Inc. The project involved incorporating a state-of-the-art sensor fusion package to ensure that each sensor system’s capabilities complimented that of the other’s and maximized the functionality of the fielded Detect-And-Avoid Systems (DAAS). The invention demonstrates a closed-loop onboard DAAS system that is highly capable of preventing a mid-air collision to other proximal objects, both man-made and natural, in clandestine operations. It also detects and classifies objects using the radar system.
“Sinclair’s role on the project involved assisting GhostWave with mounting sensors on the UAS, ensuring proper system function, and conducting test flights,” said Dr. Shepherd. “This enabled the team to support cutting-edge UAS innovations innovated and advanced in Ohio.”
Ghostwave sensor test flight from OFRN Round 3
Integrated Optical-Radar Sensor Fusion System for Air Space Awareness
Sinclair also assisted GhostWave, Inc. on the “Integrated Optical-Radar Sensor Fusion System for Air Space Awareness” project, which was funded with OFRN’s fourth round of funding, and took place from December 2019 to July 2021. This project combined GhostWave’s optical-radar sensor fusion technology with long range cameras for perimeter monitoring. The product is a system looking for a typical Group 1 UAS and it uses The Ohio State University’s stealthy radars that have a low probability of jamming and that are exclusively licensed to GhostWave.
“The team at Sinclair was happy to continue our collaboration with GhostWave building on the work completed through our OFRN Round 3 project to further advance the technology and its pathway to commercialization,” said Dr. Shepherd. “It is great to be part of the collaborations enabled by OFRN between academic and corporate stakeholders from across the state to advance UAS technology and the growth of our industry.”
Affordable LIDAR Technologies for IntegraTion and Unmanned Deployment (ALTITUDE)
Currently, Sinclair’s UAS Department is contributing to the OFRN Round 5-funded project Affordable LIDAR Technologies for IntegraTion and Unmanned Deployment (ALTITUDE) project, which is led by The Ohio State University with support from the University of Dayton and SK Infrared to address sensor needs in the commercial aerospace and defense markets. The project involves developing low cost, miniaturized flashlight Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technologies that operate at 1.55- and 2-micron wavelengths and can be manufactured; this is which are commercially unavailable. The project engages student interns in all phases of the research as part of the OFRN initiative to train a high-tech workforce and establish Ohio as a leader in Flash LiDAR research and manufacturing.
“We have been pleased to collaborate with SK Infrared to recruit six of our associate and bachelor’s degree-level students as interns at their company,” said Dr. Shepherd. “We have also helped students and the broader project team, including development of CAD designs, sensor-mountings, 3D printing and components assembly, and identifying and providing the UAS that will be mounted in the lab environment as LiDAR targets for testing. One early positive outcome of this project is that the first two SK Infrared interns were hired as full-time UAS technicians at Sinclair’s UAS Department following their internship period.”