Nasa intends to develop new approaches to the operation of unmanned systems in urban environments
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has selected 3D geolocation technology from NextNav to track its urban drone operations.
The company’s Metropolitan Beacon System (MBS) network will be used as part of its ‘city environment for range testing of autonomous integrated navigation’ (Certain) facilities at Nasa’s Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia.
Certain supports, among other programmes, urban air mobility (UAM), an air transportation system with myriad applications from small package delivery drones to passenger-carrying air taxis.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts that by 2022 there will be more than 700,000 drones delivering packages, monitoring traffic and aiding in search and rescue operations.
NextNav’s MBS system facilitates urban drone operations where satellite-based GPS signals may not be available, and the need to reliably know a drone’s location horizontally and vertically is critical to ensure safe operations in urban air traffic corridors.
“NextNav’s MBS system provides us with new tools for the development of navigation systems in environments where GPS has traditionally been challenged,” said Evan Dill, safety-critical avionics systems branch of Nasa. “We’re looking forward to working with MBS as we develop new approaches to the operation of unmanned systems in urban environments.”
“Nasa’s acquisition of the MBS system is an exciting milestone for MBS technology and a great partnership with Nasa to address the key challenges in urban drone navigation”
“We are proud to work with Nasa and integrate MBS into its urban drone operations. The MBS system is designed for secure, reliable and consistent 3D geolocation capabilities which are important for autonomous systems such as drones,” added Ganesh Pattabiraman, co-founder and CEO of NextNav.
“Nasa’s acquisition of the MBS system is an exciting milestone for MBS technology and a great partnership with Nasa to address the key challenges in urban drone navigation and make it possible to explore new opportunities in unmanned operations.”
According to NextNav, its MBS-based services enable mobile phones, autonomous vehicles and IoT devices to reliably and at a low power determine their location and timing in indoor and urban metropolitan environments where GPS signals cannot be received.
Delivered over a managed network on nationwide licensed spectrum with carrier-grade dependability and metropolitan-wide coverage, NextNav said its services are designed for public safety applications, E911, critical infrastructure, as well consumer, Internet of Things (IoT) and commercial applications that require reliable 3D geolocation indoors and urban areas or precise timing.
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