Grey Eagles and 747s to share national airspace soon?

The Army has completed a two-week trial of its new “sense and avoid” technology for unmanned aerial systems and says UASes could be sharing domestic airspace with piloted craft by March 2014, reports GCN, a sister publication of Defense Systems.

The Ground Based Sense and Avoid (GBSAA) system was put through a series of training "vignettes" at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, and successfully steered clear of other aircraft in both live and synthetic (programmed) environments, paving the way for a certification process with the the Federal Aviation Administration for the system, the Army said.

DOD and the FAA have been working together since March on establishing rules to allow drones to perform military training flights in domestic airspace. The GBSAA uses a 3-D radar system to detect other aircraft and software algorithms to identify possible collisions and recommend how to avoid them, the story said.

Essentially, the Army uses GBSAA to allow unmanned aircraft to meet the FAA’s “see and avoid” requirements for manned aircraft, which, as the name suggests, means that a pilot must be able to visually identify other aircraft in the same airspace and be able to avoid hitting them.

Until now, that meant having a piloted chase aircraft flying along with the UAS or having a trained observer watching within a distance of about a 1.6 miles, and it also meant unmanned craft couldn’t fly at night.

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