Accelerated Integration of Reliable Small UAV Systems through applied Research and Testing (AIRSTART)
Project AIRSTART, led by Airbus, seeks to drive UK leadership in small commercial UAS (Unmanned Air Systems <150kg) by overcoming major barriers to growth, principally the lack of affordable, lightweight detect and avoid, and fast and secure communications technology that is required to enable safe operation Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), and increased endurance. This will be achieved through research and development (R&D) in new technologies that also have applications in manned aviation and space sectors, such as:
- Combining technologies to achieve a detect and avoid solution including novel shared decision-making, long range navigation back-up and conformal aerials
- Real-time infrastructure sensing and mapping
- Laser beam steering based on a Spatial Light Modulator (SLM) for fast secure communications
- Novel hybrid propulsion.
Core technologies will be validated through a series of small UAS flight trials. These trials will be based on operational scenarios defined by end users Western Power Distribution and RNLI, leading to an accelerated route to exploitation in terrestrial and maritime applications. The AIRSTART project has strong SME involvement.