Sagetech transponder enables ADS-B for NASA DAA
Sagetech Corporation announced its MXS transponder was being used by NASA for detect-and-avoid (DAA) research.
The NASA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System Project and its government and industry partners have been conducting research to reduce technical barriers to routine operation of unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system. Flight tests conducted with NASA's Ikhana UAS beginning in 2014 are being used to develop and validate minimum operational performance standards for large (group 5) unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) to detect and avoid other aircraft. An upcoming project phase will see NASA extending its DAA research to smaller UAVs, conducting flight tests with its medium-class (group 3) SIERRA-B (Sensor Integrated Environmental Remote Research Aircraft).
Automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) transmits GPS position data to other aircraft nearby for use by operators and aircraft control algorithms to maintain safe separation distances. Sagetech's transponder with integral ADS-B enables NASA's system to electronically "see" nearby aircraft and maneuver to avoid them. Similarly, it enables the SIERRA-B to "be seen" by those same aircraft.
UAV operations are projected to increase sharply in civil airspace, especially once rules for accessing that airspace are in place.
Small UAVs are difficult to see, which makes visual detection unreliable. Primary radars struggle to detect reflected energy from the small radar cross-section of these tiny airplanes. Transponder equipage overcomes these obstacles by enabling UAVs to "squawk" replies to secondary radar interrogations. ADS-B equipage goes a step further by periodically "squittering" position and other aircraft data automatically. Air traffic controllers depend on transponders and ADS-B to maintain safe separation between these aircraft.