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Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation: Toward a New Era of Flight (2014)

Chapter: 5 Findings and Recommendation

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Suggested Citation:"5 Findings and Recommendation." 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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5

Findings and Recommendation

Finding. Potential Benefits and Risks. The intensity and extent of autonomy-related research, development, implementation, and operations in the civil aviation sector suggest that there are several potential benefits to increased autonomy for civil aviation. These benefits include but are not limited to improved safety and reliability, reduced acquisition and operational costs, and expanded operational capabilities. However, the extent to which these benefits are realized will be greatly dependent on the degree to which the barriers that have been identified are overcome, the extent to which military expertise and systems can be leveraged, and the extent to which government and nongovernment efforts are coordinated.

Finding. Barriers. There are many substantial barriers to the increased use of autonomy in civil aviation systems and aircraft:

•  Technology Barriers1

Communications and data acquisition,

Cyberphysical security,

Diversity of aircraft,

Human–machine integration,

Decision making by adaptive/nondeterministic systems,

Sensing, perception, and cognition,

System complexity and resilience, and

Verification and validation.

•  Regulation and Certification Barriers

Airspace access for unmanned aircraft,

Certification process,

Equivalent level of safety, and

Trust in adaptive/nondeterministic IA systems.

___________________

1 The committee did not prioritize the barriers; they are listed alphabetically within each group.

Suggested Citation:"5 Findings and Recommendation." 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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•  Additional Barriers

Legal issues and

Social issues.

Finding. Development of New Regulations. As with the previous introduction of significantly new technologies, such as fly-by-wire and composite materials, the FAA will need to develop technical competency in IA systems and issue new guidance material and regulations to enable safe operation of all classes and types of IA systems.

Recommendation. National Research Agenda. Agencies and organizations in government, industry, and academia that are involved in research, development, manufacture, certification, and regulation of IA technologies and systems should execute a national research agenda in autonomy that includes the following high-priority research projects, with the first four being the most urgent and the most difficult:

  • Behavior of Adaptive/Nondeterministic Systems. Develop methodologies to characterize and bound the behavior of adaptive/nondeterministic systems over their complete life cycle.
  • Operation Without Continuous Human Oversight. Develop the system architectures and technologies that would enable increasingly sophisticated IA systems and unmanned aircraft to operate for extended periods of time without real-time human cognizance and control.
  • Modeling and Simulation. Develop the theoretical basis and methodologies for using modeling and simulation to accelerate the development and maturation of advanced IA systems and aircraft.
  • Verification, Validation, and Certification. Develop standards and processes for the verification, validation, and certification of IA systems, and determine their implications for design.
  • Nontraditional Methodologies and Technologies. Develop methodologies for accepting technologies not traditionally used in civil aviation (e.g., open-source software and consumer electronic products) in IA systems.
  • Roles of Personnel and Systems. Determine how the roles of key personnel and systems, as well as related human–machine interfaces, should evolve to enable the operation of advanced IA systems.
  • Safety and Efficiency. Determine how IA systems could enhance the safety and efficiency of civil aviation.
  • Stakeholder Trust. Develop processes to engender broad stakeholder trust in IA systems for civil aviation.
Suggested Citation:"5 Findings and Recommendation." 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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Suggested Citation:"5 Findings and Recommendation." 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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Page 62
Suggested Citation:"5 Findings and Recommendation." 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.
×
Page 63
Suggested Citation:"5 Findings and Recommendation." 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.
×
Page 64
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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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