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SBIR/STTR

Fully-Automated, Agricultural Application using Unmanned Aircraft, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Interest in civilian use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has increased greatly in recent years and is expected to grow significantly in the future. NASA is involved in UAS research that would greatly benefit from advancing the ability of UAS to make real-time decisions based on sensor data with little human oversight. This SBIR effort is designed to develop and demonstrate this capability by installing and executing an onboard system on an existing UAS platform to provide a fully-automated, agricultural application process managed entirely by EPA-approved software. This is a high-value civilian application particularly suited to UAS given the dangers posed by maneuvering manned aircraft at extremely low altitudes. The SBIR effort will be performed by installing a modified version of Continuum Dynamics, Inc. (CDI) AGDISP© agricultural chemical application software onboard a specially modified Dragonfly Pictures Inc. (DPI) DP-14 Field Hawk UAS. The project would see the development of an onboard sensing and management system to fully-automate the process for agricultural application in a manner that meets EPA regulations for chemical deposition and FAA requirements for airworthiness. Phase I will establish feasibility by demonstrating an ability to perform the required onboard sensing, communication between the UAS and management software, and execution of the software-determined flight path and spraying strategy based on chemical deposition patterns determined by the software for prevailing environmental conditions. Phase II would see the design, development and implementation of the fully-automated system along with a flight demonstration. More »

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