Development, Analysis, and Implications of Open-Source Simulations with UAVs.
Along with the development of aviation, the unmanned aircraft systems industry has rapidly advanced over the last 20 years. The current congested airspace is now shared by a wide range of aircraft classes and sizes, creating a challenge for administrations. The main consequence is that encounters between manned and unmanned aviation are happening more often. With more encounters, there are more chances of airborne collisions, and thus, there is a need to study and minimize the negative effect of those encounters. International administrations are currently addressing this problem with more restrictive regulations that limit the flight tests for recreational and work/research purposes. As a result, flight simulators have become the main frameworks for testing close encounters between aircraft.
Flight simulators must be able to integrate manned and unmanned aircraft into the same context when testing encounters. On one hand, proprietary software provides a specific library, which is limited by the available aircraft models when the license was purchased. On the other hand, open-source packages allow for the design and integration of new computer models, being the flexible setting required for testing encounters between manned and unmanned aircraft. However, Open-Source Software (OSS) platforms have particular technical difficulties (e.g., limited user's programming skills, lack of support and resources, and incomplete documentation), which are singularly wide-spread in graduate school.
My research addresses those issues and provides a simplified solution to a particular encounter between a manned and an unmanned aircraft.
What is an UAV? UAS vs. UAV
In the literature, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are known by different names, such as Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV). The latter two, however, have decreased in popularity since the early 90s. These terms usually refer to military or search and rescue devices where a human pilot is not present.
UAVs is the term used and defined within the Canadian Aviation Regulations SOR/96-433:UAV: "a power-driven, other than a model aircraft , that is designed to fly without a human operator on board"
An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is a system that includes an aircraft or vehicle, a ground station that the pilot uses to operate the aircraft, and a communication link between the two. It is important to distinguish between UAV and UAS since the vehicle itself is part of a larger system needed for its operation.
Main objective: provide a solution to the complex aircraft design process by designing a UAV computer model adjusted to a specific task and showing its relevance in the simulation of encounters between manned and unmanned aircraft.
This research seeks to address the following subjects:
• The reliability of simulated environments for the assessment of collision avoidance.
• The challenges and difficulties of working with open-source software that are not associated directly with aircraft model development. This is a consequence of the aerospace simulators being private and owned by industry, narrowing down the software platforms available at an academic level.
• The development of UAV computer models using JSBSim.
• The safe integration of UAVs in the airspace by evaluating the diving performance.
The JSBSim open-source Flight Dynamics Model run as a sandalone software is used for the development of the thesis.
Note: The FDM designed in the present research is also a part of a wider project that uses near-midair collisions (NMAC) to assess the risk of the integration of UAVs into the current airspace.
This research is being done under the supervision of Dr. Siu O'Young from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Dr. Luc Rolland from University of West Scotland with InnovateNL of Tourism, Culture, Industry, and Innovation, Newfoundland and Labrador funding as part of the ArcticTECH research program.