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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
×

AUTONOMY
RESEARCH
FOR CIVIL
AVIATION

TOWARD A NEW ERA OF FLIGHT

Committee on Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation

Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                         OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS     500 Fifth Street, NW    Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This report is based on work supported by Contract NNH10CD04B between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.nationalacademies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
×

OTHER REPORTS OF THE AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ENGINEERING BOARD

Continuing Kepler’s Quest: Assessing Air Force Space Command’s Astrodynamics Standards (Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB], 2012)

NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA’s Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space (ASEB, 2012)

NASA’s Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus (Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, 2012)

Recapturing NASA’s Aeronautics Flight Research Capabilities (Space Studies Board [SSB] and ASEB, 2012)

Reusable Booster System: Review and Assessment (ASEB, 2012)

Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society (SSB with ASEB, 2012)

Limiting Future Collision Risk to Spacecraft: An Assessment of NASA’s Meteroid and Orbital Debris Programs (ASEB, 2011)

Preparing for the High Frontier—The Role and Training of NASA Astronauts in the Post-Space Shuttle Era (ASEB, 2011)

Advancing Aeronautical Safety: A Review of NASA’s Aviation Safety-Related Research Programs (ASEB, 2010)

Capabilities for the Future: An Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research (Laboratory Assessments Board with SSB and ASEB, 2010)

Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies (SSB with ASEB, 2010)

Forging the Future of Space Science: The Next 50 Years: An International Public Seminar Series Organized by the Space Studies Board: Selected Lectures (SSB with ASEB, 2010)

Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era of Space Exploration: An Interim Report (SSB with ASEB, 2010)

Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era (ASEB, 2010)

America’s Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program with National Needs (SSB with ASEB, 2009)

Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop (SSB with ASEB, 2009)

An Assessment of NASA’s National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (ASEB, 2009)

Final Report of the Committee for the Review of Proposals to the 2009 Engineering and Physical Science Research and Commercialization Program of the Ohio Third Frontier Program (ASEB, 2009)

Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (ASEB, 2009)

Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Interim Report (SSB with ASEB, 2009)

Radioisotope Power Systems: An Imperative for Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Space Exploration (SSB with ASEB, 2009)

Limited copies of ASEB reports are available free of charge from

Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
National Research Council
Keck Center of the National Academies
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
(202) 334-2858/aseb@nas.edu
www.nationalacademies.org/aseb

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
×

COMMITTEE ON AUTONOMY RESEARCH FOR CIVIL AVIATION

JOHN-PAUL B CLARKE, Georgia Institute of Technology, Co-chair

JOHN K. LAUBER, Consultant, Co-chair

BRENT APPLEBY, Draper Laboratory

ELLA M. ATKINS, University of Michigan

ANTHONY J. BRODERICK, Consultant

GARY L. COWGER, GLC Ventures, LLC

CHRISTOPHER E. FLOOD, Delta Air Lines

MICHAEL S. FRANCIS, United Technologies Research Center

ERIC FREW, University of Colorado, Boulder

ANDREW LACHER, MITRE Corporation

JOHN D. LEE, University of Wisconsin-Madison

KENNETH M. ROSEN, General Aero-Science Consultants, LLC

LAEL RUDD, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

PATRICIA VERVERS, Honeywell Aerospace

LARRELL B. WALTERS, University of Dayton Research Institute

DAVID D. WOODS, Ohio State University

EDWARD L. WRIGHT, University of California, Los Angeles

Staff

ALAN C. ANGLEMAN, Senior Program Officer, Study Director

MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and Space Studies Board

LEWIS GROSWALD, Associate Program Officer

LINDA WALKER, Senior Program Assistant

ANESIA WILKS, Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
×

AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ENGINEERING BOARD

LESTER L. LYLES, The Lyles Group, Chair

PATRICIA GRACE SMITH, Aerospace Consultant, Washington, D.C., Vice Chair

ARNOLD D. ALDRICH, Aerospace Consultant, Vienna, Virginia

ELLA M. ATKINS, University of Michigan

STEVEN J. BATTEL, Battel Engineering

BRIAN J. CANTWELL, Stanford University

ELIZABETH R. CANTWELL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

EILEEN M. COLLINS, Space Presentations, LLC

RAVI B. DEO, President, EMBR

VIJAY K. DHIR, University of California at Los Angeles

EARL H. DOWELL, Duke University

ALAN H. EPSTEIN, Technology & Environment, Pratt & Whitney

KAREN FEIGH, Georgia Tech College of Engineering

PERETZ P. FRIEDMANN, University of Michigan

MARK J. LEWIS, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute

JOHN M. OLSON, Space Systems Group, Sierra Nevada Corporation

HELEN L. REED, Texas A & M University

AGAM N. SINHA, ANS Aviation International, LLC

JOHN P. STENBIT, Consultant, Oakton, Virginia

ALAN M. TITLE, Advanced Technology Center, Lockheed Martin

DAVID M. VAN WIE, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University

Staff

MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director

CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Administrative Coordinator

TANJA PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations

CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate

CHRISTINA O. SHIPMAN, Financial Officer

SANDRA WILSON, Financial Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
×

Preface

Technological advances in computer systems, sensors, precision position and navigation information, and other areas are facilitating the development and operation of increasingly autonomous (IA) systems and vehicles for a wide variety of applications on the ground, in space, at sea, and in the air. IA systems have the potential to improve safety and reliability, reduce costs, and enable new missions. However, deploying IA systems is not without risk. In particular, failure to implement IA systems in a careful and deliberate manner could potentially reduce safety and/or reliability and increase life-cycle costs. These factors are especially critical to civil aviation given the very high standards for safety and reliability and the risk to public safety that occurs whenever the performance of new civil aviation technologies or systems falls short of expectations.

Research and technology development plays a critical role in determining the effectiveness of IA systems and the pace at which they advance. In addition, a wide variety of organizations possess key expertise and are making advances in technologies directly related to the advancement of IA systems for civil aviation. Accordingly, NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate requested that the NRC convene a committee to develop a national research agenda for autonomy in civil aviation. In response, the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, with the assistance of the Board on Human–Systems Integration of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, assembled a committee to carry out the assigned statement of task. As specified in that statement, the committee developed a research agenda consisting of a prioritized set of research projects that, if completed by NASA and other interested parties, would enable concepts of operation for the National Airspace System whereby ground systems and aircraft with various autonomous capabilities would be able to operate in harmony; demonstrate IA capabilities for crewed and unmanned aircraft; predict the system-level effects of incorporating IA systems and aircraft in the National Airspace System; and define approaches for verification, validation, and certification of IA systems. The committee was also tasked with describing contributions that advances in autonomy could make to civil aviation and the technical and policy barriers that must be overcome to fully and effectively implement IA systems in civil aviation.

Unlike typical NRC reports, this report often cites news media (magazines, newspapers, and online blogs) as the source of information contained in the report. In all cases, these sources are used to report recent events in the fast-changing world of IA systems and unmanned aircraft. They are not used as the basis for any scientific or technical analysis or conclusions.

The staff of the Board on Human-Systems Integration assisted the staff of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board in developing the statement of task for this study and in forming the 17-member committee. The

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
×

committee met five times during 2013 and 2014: three times in Washington, D.C., and twice in Irvine, California. At these meetings the committee was informed by presentations and materials provided by current and former personnel from the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, academia, industry, and independent research institutes.

John-Paul Clarke, Co-chair

John Lauber, Co-chair

Committee on Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
×

Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Timothy J. Buker, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation,

Renwick E. Curry, University of California, Santa Cruz,

George L. Donohue, George Mason University (emeritus),

Neil Gehrels, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,

John R. Huff, Oceaneering International, Inc.,

Charles Lee Isbell, Jr., Georgia Institute of Technology,

Vijay Kumar, University of Pennsylvania,

David Mindell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Agam N. Sinha, ANS Aviation International, LLC,

George W. Swenson, Jr., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and

James M. Wasiloff, U.S. Army, Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Marcia Rieke, University of Arizona, and John Klineberg, Space Systems/Loral (retired). Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18815.
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The development and application of increasingly autonomous (IA) systems for civil aviation is proceeding at an accelerating pace, driven by the expectation that such systems will return significant benefits in terms of safety, reliability, efficiency, affordability, and/or previously unattainable mission capabilities. IA systems range from current automatic systems such as autopilots and remotely piloted unmanned aircraft to more highly sophisticated systems that are needed to enable a fully autonomous aircraft that does not require a pilot or human air traffic controllers. These systems, characterized by their ability to perform more complex mission-related tasks with substantially less human intervention for more extended periods of time, sometimes at remote distances, are being envisioned for aircraft and for air traffic management and other ground-based elements of the national airspace system. Civil aviation is on the threshold of potentially revolutionary improvements in aviation capabilities and operations associated with IA systems. These systems, however, face substantial barriers to integration into the national airspace system without degrading its safety or efficiency.

Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation identifies key barriers and suggests major elements of a national research agenda to address those barriers and help realize the benefits that IA systems can make to crewed aircraft, unmanned aircraft systems, and ground-based elements of the national airspace system. This report develops a set of integrated and comprehensive technical goals and objectives of importance to the civil aeronautics community and the nation. Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation will be of interest to U.S. research organizations, industry, and academia who have a role in meeting these goals.

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