June 24, 2021 ByHelicopters Staff
uAvionix completed what it describes as a milestone technology demonstration flight at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NP UAS TS) in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The 40-mile demonstration flight combined the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) flight control capabilities of its new uAvionix George autopilot with the latest iteration of SkyLine, uAvionix’s purpose-built managed C2 infrastructure using three terrestrial skyStation Ground Radio Systems (GRS).
The demonstration flight featured the custom uAvionix internal test eVTOL platform autonomously flown by the George autopilot, recently announced in April 2021. George is a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) compliant autopilot leveraging the Cube core from CubePilot – combining an open-source autopilot platform with Design Assurance Level (DAL) C hardware and safety and sensor monitoring for customers seeking Type Certification (TC) and safety case evidence for high-risk operations like Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS).
In addition to hardening open-source hardware, uAvionix explain s George sets out to simplify the integration and compatibility complexities that come with enterprise autopilots and flight avionics. This includes the ability to leverage George with a range of uAvionix products, including Low-SWaP Certified Transponders, purpose-built C2 Radios, ADS-B Detect and Avoid solutions and the soon-to-be certified truFYX GPS, as well as support for hundreds of third-party components.
uAvionix explains the George platform allows a developer to assemble a seamless UAS architecture. The company has announced a beta test program for developers to participate in early integration and testing opportunities.
The recent North Dakota flight demonstration was also the first public demonstration of three SkyStation terrestrial ground radio locations managed by SkyLine, uAvionix’s purpose-built command and control network for UAS, which powered the fully autonomous 40-mile Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight.
Each ground radio was monitored and coordinated through the uAvionix cloud-based SkyLine managed C2 service. SkyLine monitors the connectivity, signal strength, and quality from microLink, the company’s redundant Airborne Radio System onboard the eVTOL, to manage make-before-break seamless transitions between ground radio locations. uAvionix explains engineers onsite, along with dozens around the world, watched as the SkyLine system determined which of the three ground stations provided the most robust connection completely autonomously and independent of the pilot in command.
uAvionix sees SkyLine as a key component to the future of BVLOS flight for UAS. SkyLine doesn’t rely on consumer-grade networks, explains uAvionix, but rather is its own purpose-built airborne network, partitioned to provide not just quality of service, but integrity of service.
The SkyLine system is currently being deployed as a component of the Vantis State-Wide North Dakota BVLOS network, the New Mexico UAS Test Site, and the AirMarket led Energy UTM trials in Canada.