Analysis of Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles ITS Concept of Operations

Principal Investigator(s):

Demoz Gebre-Egziabher, Professor/Director, Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics


  • Greg Nelson, Former Research Engineer, Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics

Project summary:

The focus of this project was to design a concept of operations (CONOP) which uses small uninhabited aerial systems (SUAS) to support intelligent transportation system (ITS) application of highway and transportation infrastructure monitoring. In these envisioned applications, these vehicles will be used for tasks such as remote collection of traffic data or inspection of roads and bridges. As such, vehicle-infrastructure collision risk needs to be managed, and various solutions to ensure safe separation between the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the object being inspected have been proposed. However, most of these solutions rely on a multi-sensor approach, which combines digital maps of the infrastructure being inspected with an integrated GPS/Inertial navigator. While "turn-key" solutions for such multi-sensor systems exist, the performance specifications provided by their manufactures does not provide sufficient information to allow precisely quantifying or bounding the collision risk. Furthermore, size, weight, and power (or SWAP) constraints posed by these small aerial vehicles limits the use of redundant hardware and/or software as a risk mitigation strategy. The purpose of this work was to develop a framework for the design of CONOPs which take these SUAS limitations into account. The method outlined shows, in part, how these vehicle/infrastructure collision risks can be estimated or conservatively bounded.


Project details:

  • Project number: 2008023
  • Start date: 01/2008
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow
  • Topics: Intelligent vehicles, Safety