Collaborative unmanned operations can offer NASA significant new capabilities in the areas of airborne science, weather monitoring and the ongoing study of UAS integration into the National Air Space (NAS). We have identified the ongoing Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) program and related studies being conducted at NASA Langley and NASA Ames. Collaborative capabilities can support several ongoing initiatives either directly or by offering capabilities that empower further opportunities. Methods for determining suitable paths in the presence of both compliant and non-compliant aircraft are vital for safe integration. Additionally, MACE can provide NASA with a framework for enabling safe terminal area operations where collaborative control can be used to guide entering and exiting UAS into safe and predictable flight patterns. A secondary NASA customer set will be the Aeronautical Earth Sciences programs operated by NASA Langley. MACE can empower enhanced data collection through the deployment of multiple sensors and increased coverage areas. Further, the flexible resource allocation capability can allow scientists to maximize their data collection time to focus on targets of opportunity that may not be fully understood prior to launching the mission. A third opportunity is insertion into the ongoing storm monitoring and prediction activities jointly conducted by NASA and NOAA. MACE can be used to supplement ongoing GlobalHawk flights to gather high fidelity data.
Commercially, MACE promises to dramatically improve the efficiency of operations of many envisioned UAS applications. Of particular interest are those in the areas of precision agriculture and aerial surveying. Heron Systems will build a service delivery model tailored for precision agriculture supporting rapid surveying of fields and follow-on tasking based on real-time findings. Similarly, a second product line will tailor to the needs of civil engineers supporting inspection requirements. Heron Systems is principally targeting the commercial market.