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17 June 2022
Successful test flights of the traffic based tactical Detect and Avoid (TI-DAA) 

SAFIR-Med partner TU Delft performed multiple successful test flights with a state of the art Detect and Avoid method developed at the university together with Helicus. Methods that are developed for manned aviation were originally adjusted such that they can be applied to drones and integrated in the Command and Control Center (C2C).  

For manned aviation, it can be assumed that the airspace in which avoidance maneuvers can be performed is almost unlimited in space. However, drone operators are given a predefined operational volume in which the drone must operate throughout its mission. Therefore, a velocity obstacle-based conflict resolution method was adapted. This adaptation was made to ensure that avoidance maneuvers of drones can be performed within their own operational volumes. This method has been verified to work in numerous of simulations using the BlueSky ATM simulator that has been developed by the ATM department of the TU Delft.   

Beside simulations, the Detect and Avoid method is developed and validated as part of the drone agnostic Helicus Command and Control Center (C2C).  Using the Helicus C2C, any operator obtains an automated and extra level of certainty for its drone fleet.  

The Detect and Avoid (DAA) is traffic information based. This means that streams of traffic data are shared with and processed by the Detect and Avoid algorithm at the level of the Helicus Command and Control Center. The Command and Control Center receives the traffic data from the U-Space service providers that are also involved in the SAFIR-Med project. 

Detect and Avoid maneuvers have been tested in flight at Unmanned Valley in the Netherlands. For those flights, the drone was controlled by the Helicus Command and Control Center located in Antwerp, Belgium, over 100 km away.  Conflicts were generated with simulated drones for which the real drone performed avoidance maneuvers that were automatically commanded from the control center in Antwerp. Two pictures taken from the TU Delft flight planning computer are shown below. The first one shows a conflict that must be resolved. The second picture shows a flight plan that has been automatically updated by adding an extra waypoint to the route of UAV0 (the AED drone of TU Delft) to resolve the conflict.  Basically the TU Delft crew acted as safety pilot in The Netherlands, whereas the flight was fully orchestrated from the Helicus C2C over 100km away in Belgium. 

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