(Image courtesy: United States Air Force/Kenji Thuloweit)

Air Force tests fully autonomous UAS control system

The United States Air Force’s 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies (ET) Combined Test Force (CTF) completed the first flight test of Johns Hopkins University’s Testing of Autonomy in Complex Environments (TACE) system. As “middleware,” TACE serves as an “autonomy watchdog,” monitoring commands sent to an aircraft’s autopilot software from its autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) computer and transmitting autopilot information such as position, speed, and orientation back to the AI.

The 412th Test Wing ET CTF tested the aircraft-agnostic TACE system on a hand-launched Swift Radio Panes (SRP) Lynx unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or “drone.” Over the course of three days, the test team demonstrated the TACE system’s ability to redirect the Lynx aircraft to a safety area if it approached a virtual border. The team also demonstrated the system’s ability to track a simulated vehicle on the ground without human commands.

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.

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