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Colin Britcher, Ph.D.
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7.31.14 Atkins

Autonomy Incubator Seminar Series:
TOWARD SAFE AND AUTONOMOUS AIRCRAFT WITH ACCESS TO AIRSPACE

Dr. Ella Atkins, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
July 31, 2014, 10:00 am, NASA Langley, Pearl Young Theater
Hosts: Danette Allen (NASA) and Fred Brooks (NIA)
Seminar Video

Abstract:
Aircraft are now able to autonomously optimize and follow flight or mission plans from takeoff through landing. Automation has, however, struggled to effectively manage off-nominal situations, necessitating continued autonomy improvements, better information for operator(s) in the loop, or both when such events bring risk of harm to people or property. This presentation will describe Dr. Atkins’ long-term research in improving safety and robustness through autonomous contingency management with application to manned and unmanned aircraft. Recent research in a flight safety assessment and management capability will be presented. Dr. Atkins will also summarize research in risk analysis for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as a function of their environment. This work has led to the conceptual design of a (very) new “Class U” airspace carved from low-altitude uncontrolled “Class G” airspace. Class U will enable unmanned aircraft to safely operate at the discretion of the property owner(s) in a manner that accounts for pertinent characteristics of the overflown property. Autonomy capabilities such as electronic geofencing to realize Class U operations will be summarized along with future research needs to support rulemaking activities.

Biography:
Dr. Ella Atkins is Associate Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, where she is director of the Autonomous Aerospace Systems (A2SYS) Lab. Dr. Atkins holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan. She previously served on the Aerospace Engineering faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Atkins is past-chair of the AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee, AIAA Associate Fellow, IEEE senior member, small public airport owner/operator (Shamrock Field, Brooklyn, MI) and private pilot. She serves on the National Academy’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) (2011-2017 term), was a member of the Institute for Defense Analysis Defense Science Studies Group (2012-2013), and recently served on an NRC committee to develop an autonomy research agenda for civil aviation (2013-2014).

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