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UAV Acoustic Collision-Alert System


The Technology

SARA’s Passive Acoustic Non-cooperative Collision-Alert System (PANCAS) utilizes Low Cost Scout UAV Acoustic System (LOSAS) technology -- an array of four lightweight acoustic probes and a custom-designed digital-signal processor. The acoustic probes employ proprietary windscreen technology and mounts that remove the effects of wind noise and platform vibration. The system’s digital-signal processor board filters acoustics, detects, locates, and tracks targets, and generates clearance maneuver commands for automated collision avoidance. Interfacing with the UAV flight control system, it gathers GPS location and aircraft attitude data to estimate the location of targets. The system sends data directly to the operator’s ground station through the existing UAV data downlink. The LOSAS system weighs approximately 250g and consumes about 7 watts of 6-volt DC power.

PANCAS can provide an all-aspect sense-and-avoid capability to a wide range of UAVs.

The Applications

  • PANCAS allows a UAV to detect an approaching aircraft, recognize the potential for a collision, and change course to maintain safe separation distances, with or without operator intervention.
  • Many potential uses in law enforcement, homeland security, agriculture, and other civilian areas.
  • PANCAS enables UAVs to meet FAA standards for detecting and tracking aircraft.

PANCAS has been demonstrated on aircraft weighing as little as 4 pounds.

The Advantages

  • PANCAS offers several advantages over the optical and radar based collision alert systems.
  • It contains an all-weather collision-avoidance capability that allows UAVs to detect approaching aircraft and maintain safe distances.
  • Its acoustic sensor hardware can be integrated into any Class I, II, or III UAV. (Passive acoustic sensor systems are smaller, lighter, and more energy efficient than optical and radar systems.)
  • The system provides a spherical instantaneous coverage area, allowing the detection of traffic approaching from any angle rather than from only a limited frontal sector.
  • Acoustic sensors provide cueing of narrow field-of-view sensors.
  • They can detect sound sources day or night, through clouds or fog, providing an all-weather collision avoidance capability.
  • Acoustic sensors can also detect impulsive events such as gunfire, enabling a PANCAS-equipped UAV to recognize hostile fire and reposition itself to a safe area while reporting the firing location for possible counteraction.
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