Bell Textron announced today (Feb. 2) its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) has successfully demonstrated a ground-based Detect and Avoid (DAA) flight. The test was part of Bell’s NASA Systems Integration and Operationalization (SIO) project to demonstrate the unmanned aircraft’s systems integration with ground radar and its ability to meet requirements for navigating airspace and avoiding traffic, “a critical component needed for future Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) vehicles,” according to Bell’s announcement.
The demonstration hinged on proving capability to complete beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) missions in complex airspace. The APT’s DAA technology is designed to monitor airspace for “natural intruders” and tests included interfacing with a commercial Bell 429 helicopter equipped with Bell’s QuantiFLY communication unit. QuantiFLY is driven by the Truth Data flight data monitoring system, described as a “low-cost, lightweight, and fully automatic flight data monitoring (FDM) solution.” It was installed on the Bell 429 to record telemetry data.
Tests were flown in “complex” airspace within the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) and radar tracked manned and unmanned aircraft systems. The MIZ enables partner organizations to test, scale and commercialize emerging technologies in air and surface mobility, according to Bell.
Matt Holvey, Bell’s Director of Intelligent Systems, said, “Radar monitoring, whether airborne or ground-based, may become an important part of drone delivery, air taxi services and other aspects of the ever-expanding AAM ecosystem.”