Guidance, Navigation, and Separation Assurance for Local-Area UAV Networks: Putting the Pieces Together

S. Pullen, J. Lee

Abstract: This paper examines the guidance methodology needed to implement networks of autonomously-flown unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) controlled by centralized ground stations (GSs). The intended operations would take place within a local area with a diameter of less than 10 km for most applications but potentially as large as 50 - 100 km. UAVs in these networks are envisioned to be potentially quite small and inexpensive but capable of automated flight orientation and stability with guidance updates provided by the GS at 0.5 to 2 second intervals. The GS also provides GNSS differential corrections and integrity information to support sub-meter-level 95% navigation accuracy with 10-7 error bounds in the 3 - 10 meter range. Position and timing solutions for each UAV are relayed back to the GS and support both operational (route planning) and tactical (path updating) guidance. This guidance needs to insure safe separation between UAVs within the network and (depending on the airspace used) separation from "out-of-network" UAVs as well as manned aircraft. The proposed guidance approach centers around "zones of influence" surrounding each UAV that include allowances for navigation error, UAV guidance error, and ground-system guidance error. The amount of error allocated to each error source depends upon the degree of error correlation between each UAV and its neighbors as well as the required probabilities of safe separation that must be maintained. The ground system maintains and updates zones of influence for each UAV within its operational area and guides each UAV it controls to remain within a "zone of operations" to insure that all UAV movements it commands avoid collisions with other vehicles or the ground. This paper provides examples of how this is done and how adjustments are made to reflect changes in navigation performance and the influx of UAVs operating outside the network.
Published in: Proceedings of the ION 2013 Pacific PNT Meeting
April 23 - 25, 2013
Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
Honolulu, Hawaii
Pages: 902 - 914
Cite this article: Pullen, S., Lee, J., "Guidance, Navigation, and Separation Assurance for Local-Area UAV Networks: Putting the Pieces Together," Proceedings of the ION 2013 Pacific PNT Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 2013, pp. 902-914.
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