uAvionix has conducted 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, witnessed by the NP UAS TS leadership team, combined the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) flight control capabilities of the 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 world-class Cube core from CubePilot – combining the innovation of open-source autopilot excellence 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 such as Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS).
In addition to hardening open-source hardware, George sets out to simplify the integration and compatibility complexities that come with enterprise autopilots and flight avionics. With the entire uAvionix product lineup at George’s disposal, including Low-SWaP Certified Transponders, purpose-built C2 Radios, ADS-B Detect and Avoid solutions, the soon-to-be certified truFYX GPS, and not to mention support for hundreds of third-party components.
uAvionix’s most recent North Dakota flight demonstration differed from its previous flights, as it was 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, our redundant Airborne Radio System onboard the eVTOL, to manage make-before-break seamless transitions between ground radio locations. 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.
Why it’s important: uAvionix sees SkyLine as a key component to the future of BVLOS flight for UAS. SkyLine doesn’t rely on consumer-grade networks but rather is its own purpose-built airborne network, partitioned to provide not just quality of service, but integrity of service. With a dense ground network of skyStations and SkyLine managing the network integrity and aircraft, the possibilities are limitless for safe, trusted, large-scale fleet management, including package delivery, inspections, Urban Air Mobility, and more.
Source // uAvionix press release