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Center Innovation Fund: AFRC CIF

Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast System for Traffic Situational Awareness

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

ADS-B position map

Armstrong innovators have developed an ADS-B system for unmanned aerial vehicles. The system relies on highly accurate GPS signals to provide increased situational awareness and a self-separation assurance system to avoid accidents. This state-of-the-art technology automatically broadcasts a UAV’s exact position 120 miles in every direction every 1 second, as opposed to legacy radar-based transponder systems that “sweep” for position every 12 seconds. Accurate to within 5.7 feet, this Armstrong-developed technology integrates commercial ADS-B hardware, radio data-link communications, software algorithms for real-time conflict detecting and alerting, and a display that employs a geobrowser for three-dimensional graphical representations. Some manned aircraft already have adopted ADS-B technology. The Armstrong team is the first to apply the system architecture to UAVs.

Work to date: In 2012, the team developed, demonstrated, and validated an ADS-B system integrated into an unmanned aircraft system for increased situational awareness and self-separation assurance.

Looking ahead: The team is working to refine the sense-and-avoid algorithm’s conflict detection, trajectory estimation, and prediction capabilities for self-separation assurance.


  • Improves safety: Enhances sense-and-avoid capabilities to maintain self-separation for UAVs
  • Highly accurate and fast: Provides location data that are accurate to within 5.7 feet every 1 second


  • Military missions and training
  • Law enforcement
  • Border surveillance
  • Scientific research


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Anticipated Benefits

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Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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