NASA in Silicon Valley Live - Air Taxis and the Future of Flight
It's about our really cool clock, here yeah yeah for sure this is our moon, countdown. Clock, where we are counting down the, next five years to, 2024. When we're planning to send humans, to the moon as part, of the Artemis program, so. This clock is counting down the days hours. Minutes and, seconds to 2024. When. The first woman and the next man will walk on the moon's South Pole, so. What exactly get, excited for that and if you want to learn more you can go to nasa.gov. Slash. Artemis. But. For, now let's. Get into the topic of the day right, yeah, can. You guys start off by telling us how is NASA reimagining. Urban. Transportation. Yeah. So there's this, new concept that's come about it's called urban air mobility so you might hear us call it UAM, okay so what is like um yeah right so one. Can imagine above. Them an air to air traffic, management system, that has everything, from small, delivery, drones to, passenger. Carrying air taxis, flying, safely, and efficiently, above. Urban, centers or you know almost above anywhere, almost. Every day and that's that vision that we're really trying to enable where we have new aircrafts, new entrants. Making. Our lives easier yeah by providing functions, that we all really need okay, amazing. So how, did we get here, what like what led to this moment where we're working on this now yeah. So industry. Has really been pushing things forward there's, folks. Know right as Garrett. You we have automobiles, and as automobiles, have been moving and developing, you, have this new advent of electric, yeah electric cars. Right so that same technology, can, now actually also be applied to aircraft, so, we have electric. Propulsion for, aircraft so, just like you. Have this new clean, and efficient way of providing. Transport. For vehicles this, new clean electric, transport can be applied for aircraft, okay so, we have new. Automation, also that's coming into play so new control systems that are onboard vehicles. And it's really that combination of those two things electric. Propulsion technology. Plus, automation, has, really led us towards, this new. Kind. Of mode of transportation that we're really excited okay awesome, awesome so these air taxis, you've been describing I think you came with an image of an example yeah right, okay let's let's bring that up and you can talk to us about what, we're seeing sure, cool, so, this is a concept.
Vehicle. This, is what we call an electric, vertical, takeoff, and landing, vehicle you can see it has four, rotors two, on each side so what's, a rotor a, rotor, are blades, that spin to help generate lift kind of like a helicopter okay, right so helicopter. You typically have one rotor, above. And then you have a tail rotor behind, and so, what these rotors do is they provide lift this. Is just one configuration, of, a potential, urban, air mobility vehicle. There are many condition figurations. You can also see here that that vehicle also has a wing right yeah so how would these vehicles kind, of fly you can imagine that they would take off vertically. And then shift to forward flight leveraging. Their wing to have efficient, performance okay, a cross, between a, helicopters, take off and a plane flying board yeah all right yeah we, have a couple of questions here already we have. Big. Bad Tom he says domi already had air taxis, but I known as a plane. Question. That is a good question so. Traditional. Commercial aircraft, cart and a aircraft, that we all fly in today those, are for, longer, flights typically right so you might fly from San Francisco to LA or, San, Francisco to New York or wherever you are interested, in flying those. Are over longer, longer. Trips so you're covering. Lots of miles right and also those aircraft, use fuel so jet fuel these, new, air taxis, or urban air mobility vehicles are electric. Propulsion vehicles, so you're no longer relying on jet fuel and, in addition they're typically flying shorter. Emissions there's a lot, there's a kind of a wide range of their mission types but you're typically flying shorter, missions and you're using a different mode of fuel, right and in inside. Of within a city or yeah we'll see something and there was a small city limits yeah yeah smaller smaller between, cities right so you would normally book a flight from San Jose to San, Francisco right right but less concert so we all wish with the traffic. Exactly. Right looking at right, right, kicking us off the room like so hovercat, here says will they be like large multicopter. Battery-powered. What. Kind of range are we talking about yeah. So there's a whole host of different configurations, some, have four.
Rotors Like we saw in that image some, have two some, have many and. They can also have some with wing configurations. They typically about four to eight passenger, carrying in terms of this size and many. Of them are electrically, powered so yes battery, power is is where, many of them are going we're. Talking about passengers but actually cargo, could be one of the first things that really. Starts to test this concept out okay makes, sense yeah so passenger. Vehicles, cargo. Delivery, are, there other applications, that you guys see is a really important, yeah. So one of the major applications we, can see coming forward is emergency, services, okay so one, can imagine if you have current. Day helicopters, being used to provide ambulance, support services, these, vehicles, could be flown in areas, that might be dangerous or difficult to get to and. Provide those same emergency type services, so there's a whole host of applications awesome. Great so that's easy to see yeah how we're gonna use them how it's gonna be super helpful mm-hmm there must be challenges, for people like you to develop, these systems are. There a few that you would highlight Lee yeah. So, I would, actually, take. A phrase. That's used by the FAA so, that's the Federal, Aviation Administration. Right right, so we are working. Very closely with them to see if we can make Bourbon Air Mobility a reality, mm-hmm one of the phrases that they like to use is they like to focus on the aircraft. The air man or air woman and the air space so, what does that mean well, these vehicles they're, new right, so these aircraft, have to be certified, there. Are going to be interesting. Challenges, on how we a so, certified. These these vehicles as they have different performance characteristics. We, mentioned that they're going to be battery powered or electric vehicles that has implications on their certification, okay certifying them is safe to fly like the brand-new and we're gonna declare, them safe for the the, skies in our cities right okay yeah and then if you talk about the air man or the air woman part that. Import air person that implies, that. We have to also think about what is the role of the pilot, and how do they interface, with potentially. New controls right like, if they have different, way a streamline, whole new trainee, potentially. A pool of pilots. That may not have the same training that our current pilots today have so what how do they actually fly these vehicles, that's also a really important question that we have and, then the last piece which i think is also really, important, is how do we integrate, these vehicles in our incidents. Right it's not just one or two of these vehicles that may be flying in the future you, can imagine hundreds, or thousands of them and if that's the case how do we integrate them safely, and efficiently into. Our air transportation system into, our national, airspace right, an interesting part of the research actually if you look at those three buckets right the the aircraft, and the air man or a woman and the airspace, some, of the things that are done in the airspace now for the current traffic may. Be better handled by one of those other buckets some, of the things that a pilot.
Takes Care of now maybe can be better handled by the airframe, itself, so understanding. These where, these things should get handled in this new way of travel, is an important area of research as well yeah okay we, have a good question here from space roars he says are. We going to have air traffic lights is there going to be a, direct, path they follow mannerisms. Things like that I knew help me with, navigating, yeah, this is actually exciting part she might as we talked earlier about the advances and vehicles that are allowing, us to get to this point, in time but, actually the advances, in airspace. Management, are really important as well and these two things are converging, so, yeah there actually will be stoplights, they'll be digital right, they won't actually be floating and hovering up there. Yeah. And there would be a set of procedures and and policies, and rules that people that. Are operating in this in this airspace would need to follow in order to have the whole thing still, work safely and efficiently so. Figuring, all of that out is a bigger of research and we we do collaborate with the FAA to figure out what, is a good path forward yeah, yeah and you said this is about helping. These new vehicles get into the National Airspace right can can you define for everybody what that really means the. National Airspace System is, it's. It's, what enables us to have air traffic and air transport, in the u.s. today it's, a collection of everything that makes that happen so it's it's the runways you can think of air traffic control towers the airport's the, radars it's actually the vehicles as well and, the people that take. Care of all these things and actually run them day to day but it's also things you can't touch its things like rules, and procedures and frequencies, all, of that stuff together makes up the National Airspace System okay so how do you introduce. New things into, that you can see it's a delicate, dance to make sure you don't, harm what's working well now and, enable, these new new ways of travel you guys are the choreographers. Of urban air mobility. I. Don't. Think this is a question, on the list but I'm sure that people are asking themselves why, does NASA work on this so. A good answer for that yeah. I don't, I'll I'll jump in you, know the thing people. Forget is that first day in NASA stands for Aeronautics and we, do a lot of Aeronautics, research, and. Even people that do remember that Aeronautics, is part of what we do they, may forget, that air traffic management is actually a major part of aeronautics, is how do you actually allow these vehicles to get up in the air and fly around and do what they do right and, we have a pretty. Good history here at NASA Ames and within NASA as a whole of doing that kind of research so. It's really natural that this, idea of this new airspace management concept kind, of originated, with us yeah and I would say we're we're also been collaborating, with the FAA for a number, of years so as our research, has been developing, we've been collaborating with the FAA to transfer. Technologies, and new research capabilities, to really make our airspace much more efficient our air traffic management really, improve, efficiencies, as much as we can mm-hmm yeah I know you guys work closely and I know that our Aeronautics. Research goes way way back here at names we act at the, center here in this research center we started, as an Aeronautics lab right, in 1939. December. 20th. 1939. Which. Makes tomorrow, our, birthday. It's. Our 80th anniversary tomorrow. So, we're glad you could be here and help us celebrate yeah so do you have any favorite, fun, facts about that air traffic management research, that's so important, that we do here yeah alright first what I was told there would be cake. Yeah. We have, done a lot of research in there traffic management and you know a lot of the tools are behind the scenes there are things that people won't see every day yeah, but, there are the kind of things that save people, 5, minutes here 10 minutes they're on their way to somewhere. Right everyone has landed at. An airport and it's kind of waited to get a gate right how do you optimize that, and make people get to their gate faster how, do you let people route. Around bad, weather quickly and efficiently and save 5 minutes and, a smoother ride to get to where you're going and. These are time savings, for us as passengers, but that translates, also to money savings for the airlines right and these things add up five minutes here 10 minutes there over the course of a year over cross all the airlines right these savings really add up and these are the things that a lot of the things that we've we've, originated. Research here at NASA awesome, yeah and, I think some, of these efficiencies, have come from flying in the air some, of them actually have come from trying to make the surface operations much, more efficient and so, really, like Joey was saying it's it's all about time right that's our most valuable commodity, and so how do we how do we save our, time and that's where we develop algorithms tools, work, really closely with air, traffic controllers, to give, them tools to make their jobs easier and.
So That's something that we've, been doing research on fundamentally. For the last 30 years so yeah yeah that's going back it's not just research it's transferring, it to the FAA yeah make them real yeah right right right they actually put it into use right yeah right yeah there's some tools in our air traffic control towers almost, every air traffic control tower today has some technology, that we have worked on in here at NASA that's, awesome I don't think people know that we. Have a question here from just, me and my laptop what, part of the traffic, or air traffic management dvc, controlled, autonomously. I think. If if, we think about how many of these operations that are going to be in the future of people people's. Minds you know race a little bit and you think about how how much how. Many new flights there will be the. Current system isn't set up to handle that many more flights that quickly so, actually a lot of the functions to enable these new entrants are going to need to be automated as, well, as some of the processes, on the existing side in order for them to know how to integrate, and manage this, new traffic as well but, we're not going to have enough controllers, that can talk to all of these aircraft to, do all of these things all the time like they do with the aircraft today yeah so a lot of those functions are going to be automated so there will be a lot of automation to enable this to happen. Do. You I don't take anymore oh yeah I mean there's there's plenty the chat is really blowing up people are very interested in this topic. There's. Some some questions about you know how do you be so Hobbs, 5-5-5, says how, do you prevent midair collisions, with air traffic yeah we're with air taxis. Yeah, so like Joey was mentioning, there's going to be new, automation that's going to come on board the vehicle potentially. As well as tools for. Air traffic management services, so what, are the intersection, of tools that are onboard the vehicle as well as services, that might be provided, provided, from. Potentially. Air traffic controllers, or other entities, and that's kind of what we're investigating, and then where does automation, help ensure, that we reduce any. Issues. In terms of safety impacts so safety, is kind of the number-one goal how do you ensure safe operations, yeah. That's kind of the tools we developed they, do look at a few different layers right of how you make this have the air traffic management layer, there's usually a strategic, look at it like how do we not put too, many vehicles in one spot oh yeah it's really hard for them to avoid each other it's.
Logically, You kind of keep them apart through this ground automation, and, having them share what they're gonna do with each other but. Then more tactically, a lot of onboard capabilities may be important to keep them separated yeah great. So all these tools you guys are talking about a lot of that work is done at Ames here, but also in all other, NASA centers across the country right so, you guys have a lot of partners yeah, definitely, so. NASA Armstrong, NASA, Langley Glen almost, all the NASA centers that are focused on aeronautics aren't contributing to making, urban air mobility a reality, oh this is pretty exciting yeah yeah a big collaborative effort yeah the wind when did all this begin for urban air mobility and, what's. Going on today yeah, work is happening now so one, of the areas. Of where this kind of first started in terms of NASA involvement, is what we call the Grand Challenge Rancho. The. Grand Challenge is an activity in. Which we are working collaboratively with, the FAA as well, as industry partners both vehicle, industry partners, and airspace, industry partners okay to kind of develop an ecosystem, so, we can really begin testing. Out some of these concepts, what, does it mean to fly a vehicle what kind of data do we need to collect to help with the certification, process understand. The performance of these vehicles and then, also start. Understanding, what, does it mean what kind of tools and technologies, with huns software, do we need to build to, actually have some sort of air traffic management system, for, these vehicles as as many of them start coming up and becoming, a reality so the Grand Challenge is a series, of flight, demonstrations. And simulation, activities, where. We really hope to explore, all, the safety cases as, well as collect, data to help us move the industry forward, yeah make sense you get as many minds as possible, thinking about it predicting, what you have to work out now right and doing the work yeah yeah definitely it's definitely a very collaborative effort awesome, great. Legit. Twitch channel, asks. Where, they be miniature airports, for places to pick up and drop off that'd. Be cool yeah so, some, of the concepts, that are coming, up in terms of infrastructure, which is actually a really important concept is, a concept of vert apart - vert apat Zoar Skyport. Sky paths however we you wish to call it but you can kind of imagine like a helicopter pack, right no kitties could be on the ground or, on actually, the the, top of a building right and so these, could be locations, where these aircraft, could take off because remember, they can take off vertically, and land vertically so they don't need a runway yeah, they don't need a runway like a normal aircraft today so, that was what's going to allow operations. In an urban center right. Yeah cool is this gonna mean the end of traditional. Flight or, is this really. Just complimentary, to everything we use today yeah. It's definitely not an end to, current. Day aviation, okay in fact you can think of it as a compliment, to help you actually use current day aviation, even more right so, one. Can imagine that you might want to get, from wherever, you're located a suburb to, your nearest airport, and normally we would have to sit in traffic drive, maybe half an hour 40 minutes to get there who knows exactly, depending.
On Where you're located yeah now what if you can take one of these air taxis, or air shuttles to get to your airport now, it's actually much easier to use a, commercial. Aviation like, we do today so these are just another. Form. Of transportation to. Help us use current day aviation, yeah, and about air taxis, or air shuttles yeah you just kind of made, it a distinction there do. You think that these are gonna be taxis, that I call, up and I say I personally, want to go to my specific friend's, house or is, it gonna be like a subway, or a city bus that has a route so. Most likely as, this industry. Develops initially, you'll probably more be more like a air shuttle or an air Metro where you have a series, of designated, locations, where you have pickups, and drop-offs and at. Scheduled, times okay. That's mostly to help us understand, what are the philosophies ability in the beginning yeah of this type of transportation, but, on demand air mobility is something that industry, as well as we, are researching, and investigating of. How to enable it so we're actually looking at both how do we have a air, Metro or air shuttle as well as on-demand. Urban air mobility okay, stay. Tuned Lori yeah. We. Have a question here from again from space, warmers what, elevation, will they be flying at but if you're you're in the city do be weave through skyscrapers. Thank. Goodness. Good question so. Since. These vehicles have kind. Of a wide range of configurations they. Have different cruising, altitudes, that they would fly at you can expect though a range, of typically from some arts like a thousand, to four thousand feet is uh knavish, that typical, range of these of these vehicles of the urban air mobility vehicles that are a little bit larger than remember, then. Some of the drones that have been flying, below 400, feet and, then, they are also kind of smaller than your traditional aircraft because they only have about four to eight passengers typically okay so that's the altitude, they would be flying at terms, of weaving between skyscrapers. We're. Looking at procedures, as well as ways, for these aircraft, to fly safely. Um and that includes safety of the passengers on board as well as the safety of the people on the ground right of course I, see. A question here further for the both of you, seriously. Gaming as what, are Siobhan Julie and Joey's thoughts on noise, pollution from, these and what are their thoughts on potential, objects falling to earth yeah. That part definitely. Want to avoid the objects falling to earth and. In, general noise pollution speaks, to a larger issue of kind of public acceptance, of these kind of operations mm-hmm. So we can solve a lot of technological problems, and make sure things stay safe and efficient in the airspace but if the, public's not ready to accept these kind of operations for whatever reason whether its environmental including. Noise or something, else. Then. This will never take off so to speak right so part, of the research when they do our testing is actually making, sure we're starting to ask some of those questions and collect some initial data on public, acceptance, so that we can feed, some of those conversations to see what kind of barriers might be there yeah to, kind of that public acceptance question, yeah so noise, is an issue and I think you'll see a lot of the manufacturers, of these vehicles designers, of these vehicles and of the airspace procedures, are kind of cognizant, of that they want to be aware of trying to minimize the impact or, acceptability, of these operations, so it is something that is considered in the design of all the pieces of the system right right good to hear, yeah.
What's. Another question, we have here. Hobby's 555, would there be weather, restrictions, on air taxis, yeah. So just, like today, in commercial, aviation today, weather plays a big role and how how, aviation, you know goes. On today and similarly, it will play a role for, these, new vehicles for these urban air mobility vehicles, one, of the things that we're trying to understand, is when we perform. Tests as part of the Grand Challenges understand. What is your performance when can you fly at what gusts. Of winds are, there limitations on your performance, and then those are some of the things that we're really trying to investigate, so we can answer that question in a better fashion once we have data on how these vehicles actually, perform, under, different win. Under different wind wind, levels as well as different types of precipitation yeah. Okay it's a really specific stuff yeah. Yeah. Really, interesting kind of related to that is you know understand the components of the vehicle so that it knows what it can handle situations. It can handle but, then actually on the weather side actually doing the research to make sure that that, information is available to those operators okay, whether we use today for Aviation's. Really focused around airports, and the enroute environment. And you. Know there's some specialized stuff for helicopters, in cities but, that all needs to scale up quite a bit in order to provide, the right information to, operators, so that they can fly safely given, the performance characteristics of their vehicle yeah so a lot of cities aren't outfitted, for that level of granularity of, weather so. How, do you get those weather services, and other requirements, developed so that you can actually enable these operations, safely so that's a larger. Research that we poke into and we also try and encourage industry. And universities. And and other folks to come, along with us on that research yeah. Kind of along those lines is that whether it's actually very interesting in an urban center right yeah. So, as you have wind flow between buildings, as, you have kind, of different types of Eddie's kind of put round off of building, to building surfaces, you have interesting effects, that can occur and so that's really important.
For Us to, have some knowledge about and understand, such, that we can have safe, safe performance of these vehicles so, that's actually a really big part which I was referring to, I can imagine I felt that in cities right yeah of course walking between two skyscrapers yeah, and it's just like, yeah. So, good to know you're thinking about it. Let's. See what other questions we got, we. One day see a return of airships, or Zeppelin's ghosts of ETS, who. Knows. Yeah. So I you know airships, that dirigibles, have been have been around for quite some time and have been used you, know obviously in the past and now. We see the Goodyear blimp once in a while right. So. You, know airships, do have some some purpose and do off our use for some some use, cases but, how they're going to be integrated, in airspace it's a similar question just like a lot of these new entrants, how do what's your performance like what's your performance, characteristics, based on that how do we integrate you safely into our airspace so the same types of questions apply regardless, of what what type of vehicle you may be yeah, yeah but the vehicles you guys are talking about her much more smaller 40, passengers smaller and. A. Trek, petrol, one do, you have any idea how much energy it takes to vertically lift, the. Passengers, gave, a number of eight passengers, but just in general yeah. So typically. What you what is desired, is you want to have, vertical lift up above 50, feet and, such, that you are climbing. At a rate of about a hundred feet per minute so the energy, that's required obviously. Depends on the weight of that individual, airframe, plus, the number of passengers, or cargo that you might have on board so I would say it actually does vary depending on your configuration of, your vehicle mm-hmm but what is neat is the fact that there's, been quite a bit of development and distributed, electrical, propulsion which. Means you can use these electrically. Powered rotors, have them distributed, across the airframe, such, that it's actually, much easier to to provide at least four formats that's. A new technology, so not in that vehicle concept, right had the rotors along the wing Yeah, right right cool. And the airframe when you guys say that that means looks like the structure of the aircraft correct, just, how that aircraft is configured does I have two, rotors four rotors that have a wing what. Does it look like yeah yeah yeah okay. Cool we probably have time for a few more questions yeah. We. Have a, question here from decked the werewolf. What power densities, would be required, to make long-range. High-capacity. Flight, possible using, battery power hmm. Yeah how is the big issues yeah yeah yeah so the. Manner in which battery. Technology, is developing, is is something that industry is really moving forward with things, that they're concerned, about is their charge and discharge rates. And, then also how quickly can you recharge, because, your your actual battery onboard so that you can fly another mission or go on another trip right, and so there, is quite. A range. Of energy. Density that's required again depending, on your configuration right, depending on your mission profile am i flying 50, miles or, am i flying 40 miles all right so depending, on the mission you wish to achieve you, do see a kind of a range in terms of the battery or power requirements. For that vehicle and, just bring, it back to the question of the vertebrates kind. Of designing, the system, and the, power requirements. You know you you, may want your vertebrates close to a substation that can supply the right amount of power to recharge you quickly so. All of these things are definitely interrelated. Yeah. You you sort of touched on this already but maybe to sum it up for Fergus. Biggums can you comment about the possible infrastructure. That might be needed for the shorter range trips will, use existing airports, or a combination of existing and new you. Talk about rooftops, but how would you sum that up. Yeah. I. Think. That if we're talking about a new, mode of transportation with. New use cases there's probably going to be new infrastructure, needed and that's when we talk about these verda ports and and charging, stations and and all of these these, things that don't exist as well as things like surveillance. As well as weather monitoring, we talked about earlier surveillance, like keeping an eye on on. Those events, like knowing. Where the vehicles are yeah right not so much how. They get used but yeah just where the vehicles are right now you know Freight radars, and they can see all the bigger planes on the sky keep, track of that infrastructure, doesn't necessarily, let us have full visibility into, the area where these things might be flying so, surveillance, as well as again the recharging, and the landing and the takeoffs all that's infrastructure, that definitely has to be considered when designing a system and I would say infrastructure, it's actually a big big part of this right and the FAA is as, well as NASA, and as well as industry and other research institutions, they are looking, to understand, what are the infrastructure, requirements, and there.
Are Sensory requirements, then also things such as lighting. Requirements right what, kind of procedures. Are need to be developed for that type of infrastructure, so, there's a whole host of information that would come along with the infrastructure, that we meet that will be needed for these vehicles to land or take off from, locations. Near us right there's there's lots of interesting research there yeah yeah, the. Research, kind of leads the way to those answers yeah right yeah yeah discovers, the questions yeah, yeah. That's interesting maybe. Just one more and this question came in a while ago from Hobbs 555 so, maybe it's been answered but I want to know is this like flying cars what's, the mission can we call these flying, cars or is that something else well. So if you if. You want to call, them flying cars you. Technically, can I mean some of these vehicle, configurations, do have wheels. Right, when they're landing cool some do some don't right so if, you have wheels and you can actually do taxi I guess technically, if you can hear y'all the flying car, you. Know people do call them urban air mobility vehicles, do. The fact they can perform a number of different functions and have slightly different operations. Than what we were used to today right, so the. Terms you use can change but essentially, it's, like an air taxi a flying car I know whatever you wish to call it yeah can I do that the car implies a lot of freedom right and that's that on demand the idea we were mentioning earlier yeah, so, most of these initial, vehicles are probably more like the air metro anjali. Was mentioning earlier right there kind of designated, where they're going to go so. If you wanted to call that a car sure, you could, but in general it's more like a subway. Or yeah it's it's. Going where it's going to go and okay it can help you get there quickly just turn it off yeah yeah okay, cool all, right well let's move on to our next topic so, that we don't run out of time but we're gonna come back to work since later so I know that NASA has already done a bunch of research for, several years that really helped lay the groundwork for this urban air mobility work that you're doing so Joey you were a big part of that can, you tell us about the system you worked on yeah so for, the past five years or so we have been working on. How. Do you manage small. Drones, at, low altitude, at, kind of a big scale how do you have thousands of small drones flying, over the state of California, taking care of things ok so. Again. That's the current, air traffic management system was not designed to handle. That kind of traffic so how, do we enable those use cases in those business cases to occur without overloading, the current system and keeping everything as safe as possible so, that's what came about our, research was called UTM UAS, traffic, management and again US traffic man just means how do you manage drones all right how do you manage travel yeah oh the drop, the UAS is the drone yes right. But. Yeah we were focused again on small drones for talking with fifty five pounds and under okay and we're talking about low altitude, typically 400 feet and under yeah but again you can accomplish a lot of things just in that airspace with these kind of vehicles and. It made us ask certain questions and, develop certain systems and test certain things with partners and the FAA that lays, the groundwork for some of the still open questions for, urban air mobility that we have been talking yeah. Yeah that sounds familiar yeah, kind of work you're doing you. Mentioned lots of applications what, are some examples for. Small drones there there are a lot. Usually. The you can actually classify them into some, of the more interesting ones into the 3ds dirty, dangerous and dull jobs because, a lot of jobs, you can do with these drones that can actually keep, people safer that are doing them right, infrastructure. Inspection, for example you know looking at a cell tower taking, pictures and making sure it's working correctly. People. Die climbing those towers every year right and and other kind of powerline inspection, these, jobs aren't always the safest jobs but you can make them safer by using drones okay, and.
Then Things like there's agricultural, applications as, well taking pictures of your field and doing analysis on that as, well as Public Safety things fire and police agencies are using these, more and at the local level. Large, companies talk about delivering things to your doorstep again, all this can happen with drones under fifty five pounds and under four hundred feet so there's a lot of things you can actually do with them right yeah for sure and how do you let everyone do all those things. Simultaneously. And keep the airspace safe exactly, that was kind of the research that we were looking at yes because, that's always the key right there safely. Yeah what, was your role exactly so. I was the chief engineer for the project so it was really, about kind of coordinating, a lot of the technical aspects, of it I, did. Focus a lot on the software aspect of it so we talked about automation earlier in the airspace management, how it's gonna have to be automated, in the future to handle all of this traffic so. How do you build a system that enables all this stuff to happen you know it's it's cloud-based and, it leverages a lot of best practices in the software industry, with. Our knowledge and expertise at NASA for air traffic management how, do you marry those two things and that's really what, what we were looking at and, Joey won't admit this but he was the brains behind the the UTM project, and I would say that Joey and his team most, recently won the NASA software the Year award so that's actually kind of a big deal so we give Joey shadow for that yeah, we we have a lot of reins on the project which is great right that's how you make it successful in, Elon perspectives. Having a lot of people with a lot of different backgrounds to come to that is, how you kind of get to these innovative solutions and NASA's a great place to kind of allow, that to happen yeah awesome, Congrats, Thanks. So. What. Are some specific. Abilities. You, you gave the drones or the system, like. You want to keep them keep them separate, oh yes Pacific, examples, you know we had sort of a clean sheet to begin thinking about how to get this done yeah really again it's a clean sheet with the understanding of how the airspace works and the other vehicles work right so with those bounds what what do we want the system to do one, of the key things is how do we help make sure the drones don't run into each other yes. Help. Them stay safely separated you know at some degree also. How do we keep them separate from traditional aviation how do we make sure they don't fly into other aircraft right can, you build some system that helps helps, with that process you know one. Layer of this isn't gonna be the end all and be all of all these answers but how do we start this process of keeping the airspace safe also. How do we allow, folks. That are these operations, and the vehicles that are doing is ugly to be identifiable, right we don't want just rogue or unidentified oh there's flying around the airspace they say need to know what's there right, to, keep the airspace against safe there's kind of a security aspect to that as well and then. How do you have some priority. For, important. Operations, right, so for example. Recently. There was actually a drone that delivered a human kidney a for. Transplant, that was actually transplanted, into a person Wow successfully, right so. That was demonstrated, one one important. Use case for drones, yeah how do we let that happen without being hindered by drones. That are delivering hot dogs to people to. Make sure the hot dog drones get out of the way right, kidney. Drone come through. These. Priority, operations, need to be thought, of as important. In the system as we design it out yeah there's a lot for the important, class of operations, you can you can you can think about but the idea is how do we make sure what that can actually occur right then all of this can occur right you'll get your hot dogs no kidding, but after the kidney is record 30 seconds later. And. I would actually add the services, that Joey just laid out they, are extensible, and applicable for any new entrant right so Joey was talking about how they were applied for drones. Yeah if you can think about for these larger, urban air mobility, vehicles, for any new entrant your zeppelin these, same tenants, can be applied so it's actually a really great foundation for us to build off of and extend, for, new entrants into our national airspace yeah it's so, clear how it supports.
The Same things challenge Lee's working right trying. To manage these the key thing is you know the current system again air traffic controllers don't want to be controlling, a 40-pound, drone at 200 feet right they're not you, have enough to do with the aircraft. Right they don't want to hire 10,000. More operators. So. Again they're kind of this is the automation of the airspace and allowing these new entrants and again a lot of these things will translate over to this. This air taxi urban area bility world yeah finding, out how much of that transfers, over how much of it has to change a little bit but, we have a foundation to start with totally, yeah so, they're kind of enters a Jenny cd25, question here management will be autonomous. Yes it will be autonomous, it. Will have a autonomous. Aspects right, it doesn't mean you just push a button and then your space is completely right, for you to go and. The autonomous, the the autonomous. Nature of it will increase over time right, you know when you get started you only have so many operations, and you, might have a good amount of human supervision but the unit's things scale out how much of that can be automated and making. Sure you do it again in a safe way it's. More of like a continuing right so it's there's. Gonna be pieces of it that are automated, some functions, and then how does that can house that continuum, grow that's right over time yeah make sense building, up on it right exactly yeah so, the. Drone traffic management system what does it look like or feel like for a user a pilot, like if I want to fly my drone what am I gonna see yeah, in the future hopefully it would be very transparent, it shouldn't be a big. Burden to actually use the system so. There's actually be a layer between you and the airspace and it would be kind of a service provider to get into the airspace almost like a cell, service provider right you want to make phone calls you have a cell service provider yeah you can talk to other cell service providers, cleanly, so, you would have one of those providers that get you access to the airspace right you would tell them what you want to do maybe your intent I want to fly from here to here and I'm gonna do it about this time mm-hmm, the idea is that these service providers share, that information amongst, each other they.
Do What's necessary to keep the airspace safe and be conflicted, and and messages flowing that need to flow and you as a pilot, just take care of your mission right you just fly your operation, how, much of that operation is automated, and not automated you know that depends in the future how far you go but. A pilot would be in charge of that operation, and would, do it cleanly and receive information back, from these service providers about, any changes in the airspace or things you need to know right like there's, a storm coming, up exactly, there's an emergency operation that's right yeah that kidneys coming through right. Yeah. No and it's something and now I was just gonna add that I think there's. The the whole host of different types of operations, yeah. It kind of lends itself to setting. Up different missions right and then I'd, also add that the tools, and the technologies, and the integration with the partners that was built up under UTM, I think is a great model they, interface, with a whole host of industry, partners along with the FAA, and that same model of collaborative, innovation, is what we're aiming for yeah yeah, and. I. Wanted to go, back to earlier. You somebody, asked about, like. Traffic lights or so I forget what the question why you're saying there be digital traffic lights right not, physical, things up in the sky but you told me that we can think of the drone traffic management is like rules of the road that we know when driving right yeah, you. Know we think about driving today the, folks that are driving in general you hope, and expect that they know the rules of the road right they know yeah, what a red light means they knew what to do when you both come to a stop sign at the same time they, know how fast you can go on the freeway and how to change lanes those. Kind of things don't exist for drone traffic, right so how do what are those procedures, what are those rules who, has the right-of-way in certain scenarios and, how do you share that information to make sure that everyone's aware of the same rule set and those other things so that, is a lot of the research we do as well so that's really the drone traffic management system it's you know defining, those rows rows the procedures, making. Sure everyone's checked out on all those things to, enable all these operations to happen yeah yeah, and. You know and, you have on your phone it tells you when there's a traffic jam ahead right so that's the next level of services right and that would be part of the ecosystem as well oh there is weather ahead or there, is a lot. Of drones over, here so maybe you should go over there right sharing, data so that you can make those decisions yeah awesome yeah that's really cool, oh we, have a question here from chin. Dane who, these drones have an option for multitasking for. Example, the, drunk could be delivering a kidney and also acting as a traffic, camera. In route. So. Well they have like different yeah, I think the person waiting for the kidney would hope maybe this it's, focused, on the kidney. But. In general yeah it's all about the vehicle capabilities, right what did they design the vehicle to do and the, idea with, our research with traffic management and and and all those sorts of things how do we make sure we don't cut off any of those use cases how, do we make sure we enable, folks to do the things they need and want to do in the air space safely, so. Yes, and. We have looked at drones being repurposed, in routes, and right mm-hmm you may be doing regular traffic. Surveillance but then maybe there's a search and rescue thing that has to happen and that drunk could be repurposed in flight and take off and do something so, this idea of repurposing, is definitely out there yeah, and I would say for whether. It's a single task or repurposing, or multitasks. You, know what you need is a secure communication. And navigation platform. Right so you have to be able to communicate to that that vehicle that drone or, that you am and be able to have that communication be secure and that's I think as. You have multiple, tasks, that still is the foundation, is how do you have safe and efficient, operations. Right yeah. Cool, so. This year you guys actually had a big milestone, Yeah right yeah tell, us about what, went down right I mean we've been doing this since 2014. You know, researching. This drone traffic management system and we've been kind of building up in, complexity. Of the kind of cases that you can handle so, when we got to this summer we, actually executed, a flight. Test to, demonstrate the, most. Mature version of the system we have and we do that an urban environment so, we flew in downtown, Reno and we flew in Corpus Christi Texas with. The help of the FA test sites at those areas and. Many, many partners doing, that with us right, and. Showing. How this system would work in an urban environment and finding, out where the limits are where the gaps are and where it works really well that's.
What We did this summer and that was a really, exciting time for us awesome yeah you guys got video of that didn't you oh yeah. We probably have something you tell us about if we can for sure oh yeah, you're looking at Reno here are, you looking at a couple of drones taking. Off from the top of the building and you can see they're flying near the casinos and they're coming really close to each other but actually more space then you can tell from the ground here and the key thing is that the two pilots, for those vehicles know. What the other one is doing because they've been sharing information you, can see one holding up here while another one passes by again, that's the rules of the road stuff we were talking about so. Testing all those concepts, and here your same kind of a Mission Control Center with, folks from NASA as well as the Nevada Test Site working. Together, to execute these these activities, so. Interesting. So, you. Were not the only one there were you Joey you. Guys, yeah. I, had the chance to go out and observe the UTM tests. Both in Reno and Texas. And I would say seeing, the drones flying, in that urban environment, really. Makes it tangible right this is a reality. That's coming. To. See how it's, a combination of software, they. Leverage, cloud services, plus the drone technology plus. The interplay of the folks on the ground you, really see what Joey, was referring to as earlier as kind of the National Airspace kind. Of in a miniature version you're. Running in these field trials which is great to see and it really. Lends itself to help us understand. What are still some of the major questions that have to address so all the data that's collected from these demonstrations. Is really, I think very valuable oh yeah. What. Was your experience like Tiffani, well. I. Was going to cover and help them amplify, you know the research that they're doing for the public but I mean I would say Reno was cold and then, Texas was very very hot. But. I would say you know it was really a great experience to see the team kind of just I feel, like every test day was different, mom they learned something one day and they applied it the next day and even when there were challenges, to.
See Them all kind of come together. Six. Come up with a plan fix it the next day was was really great to see and to have covered this project. For like I don't know three four years now it's kind of like great, to see you know they've come together yeah this accomplishment, with them it's it was really really cool that's awesome yeah but. What would you say you learned in the end from these tests. In downtown, yeah I, mean it, sounds kind of silly to say although but it was really important to know that we learned that the system works yes, right actually, you'd actually do the things we've thought it should be able to do right it helps drones stay separate again it's not the only layer of doing that right but it's a key layer of doing that you. Can make sure you have access for priority operations, you can actually identify the drones in the airspace digitally, and in other ways, so. All of those pieces were, executed. In that in that airspace and the other key thing is finding out more, about what it takes to fly in that environment right like what kind of what kind of things makes this hard right, let's go there and fly that and it's not again it's not just flying one drone right, a lot of folks can demonstrate something, with with one drone and a lot of folks have done that a lot of use cases but. Bringing a full, system out with many stakeholders trying, to collaboratively, manage this airspace and execute missions is really important, and finding out where where, more work needs to be done and where things look like they're solved right and that's what these flight tests do for us right perfect, yeah and so what's next for the drone traffic management project, so. A lot of this you know we've been continually, handing off to the FAA we talked about a partnership live but it really is a tight partnership yeah we, meet with them often probably. More often than they would like right, we're. Talking with them quite often to make sure we understand what the FAA is thinking, about where this is going to make sure that what we're research.
Is Tracking with that and maybe, leading it a little bit if we can. But. They're going to be executing, a pilot, program as well a second, part of a previous pilot, program and, we want to help them in that execution, and really that's about taking the technologies, that we've been developing with the FAA and our industry, partners and making, them real in the airspace it's. An important, step in that direction so, we're gonna we're gonna keep going that way all, right excellent. We. Have a question here from resonated games, is. There, any fundamental, concept, that those in the private or commercial. Sector. Testing, of the drones should be paying attention to. There. Are so many pieces to this right, so a lot, of folks are. Specialized. In a certain area might be on the platform itself building you know detect. And avoid sensor how do you actually see things in the airspace and get out of their way and. I think that continuing. To push all of those lanes is important, I think, understanding, the ecosystem, as a whole is also really important I think folks that do, work on important. Sensors and it's important, platforms, it's, important for them to also understand the ecosystem, in which those drones will operate so just trying to keep pace and understand, where the research is heading and where the faa is signal things are going just. Trying to stay abreast of all that stuff is really important. Here's. A comment, on the during traffic management system maybe, you can respond twisted, metals asks the, pilot will be watching a movie just, like now 95 percent of the time so, a, drone pilot will be watching. On screen I. Would. Love to watch movies 95. Drone. Pilots, I understand, okay, are, they watching their, flight on screen oh I see are they physically, watching the aircraft or are they watching, some representation. Of their operation, on a screen I guess that's the question yeah I think it's more the latter right again because we're, trying to build a system so that these vehicles can go beyond visual line of sight of the, operator the pilot oh yes all right so they're not gonna be able to just wash it in the sky right right and that's how you enable all these business cases you can't have someone watching the drone if you're gonna go deliver that thing yeah, you know five, miles away you know you can't have someone or a line, of someone's watching that so, how do you build a system that allows that so, yeah there would be some representation. Of the operation, occurring that the, person that's in charge of that operation would have access, to yeah it might be as simple as a moving map with some alerts, that are coming on to it write, something like you'd see on your you know, for. For your regular driving, right something that's letting you know where you're going or it could be more advanced right it could be a 3d view it could be a first-person view really. Depends on the mission and the, environment, you're flying in and what the future rules actually are to do that so. Yes yes. Yeah. Yeah I would add regardless, of whether it's a drone pilot or a pilot, on board one of these new types of vehicles there's gonna be different ways of interacting with the vehicle and controlling, the vehicle just as automation. Increases, and there's, changes, in how those vehicles fly I think there's going to be some changes, in that traditional, pilot, flight deck or cockpit, relationship, yes and how you interface with that it's gonna change and that's also another interesting, area of research all. The way from you know human-computer. Interface, logic. That goes behind that as well as what button do I push to, to land or take off or is there an easy fly button right so there's all kinds, of new ways to engage, with with, aircraft. Whether it's a drone or some of these new vehicles I think that's, really interesting area I think one of the key things were seeing a lot of research on from industry. As well as you know the NASA side is how, do these pilots maybe control. More than one of these right, it doesn't have to be a one-to-one relationship between one pilot and one active operation, or can you expand that further right, can, you actually have three. People controlling, eight vehicles or can. It be one, controlling two like what are the limits of that and what tools need to exist in order to make sure that again happens, very safely yeah. Question. Here from Tama, 101, is there any corporation. With. Autonomous, car research I expect there would be similar challenges and opportunities, for with communication, and control. So. I think the same.
Principles. Of of, autonomous, car autonomous. Vehicle self-driving. Cars however you wish to call it those some of those same principles are, I think important, in aviation, as well so, what. Can I understand, what my environment is presenting to me right so do, I have some, awareness of what my environment is for, airplanes that would involve or, aircraft and drones would involve weather all right knowing, how. Strong your, communication, signal is to your base operations, but all of those same types of questions. About communication. Safe communication, reliable, communication. Understanding. Of the environment, around you, being, able to react. Appropriately to, the environment, around you knowing the rules of the road that Joey kind of referenced whether you're actually, on the road or flying of flying in the air those are all same, principles, that somebody, yeah, yeah. I want. To jump, back to another topic that I want to make sure we don't miss of course one of the coolest, things I recently learned about the urban air mobility research is, the simulation, work, that you guys do yeah can you tell us about that yeah sure so you. Know I think for all our twitch, fans out there you guys might have Microsoft. Flight Simulator have, used that so, just like you could emulate. Flying, a Cessna. Or a pipe or even like a 747. We, have advanced. Flight simulators, here at Ames they are kind, of a combination of flight simulators, some are fixed, meaning they don't move and some move and actually allow you to see all feel all the forces that you would experience like you were flying in in real life so is it we have lots of different kinds of simulators, and it's not just we have that the fact that we have those simulators, is that we have or we're developing, performance, models for these new types of vehicles and then. How they actually fly right I don't exist yet so you have to invent, the right right. Exactly it's, to take some concept, vehicles understand. How, these vehicles would fly with their performance, be and then how, would they actually fly, in an emulated. World in our airspace and go, through some of those same questions of all been talking about now how do I interact with my controls, do. I have a joystick. Like I would for a helicopter, like a cyclic, right or do I have something else and, what, is that mode of interaction those, are questions that we can also think about for these simulators yeah along, with how, do I interface, with some new, traffic. Management system specifically. For my vehicles building, off the work that Joey's been doing so there's all kinds of different things we can investigate with, these simulators, right testing everything and how it comes together. Yeah. We're, gonna see what this looks like you. Brought a video. Let's. Do that simulation, video and tell us what we're seeing sure this. Is gonna be so this is a video. From one of our fixed base flight simulators, so flight simulator that does not move this. Is what from one of our researchers, Mike fury and his. Simulator, here you can see that it shows a vehicle, taking, off of vertically and now it's moving forward, in flight and what's, actually really interesting, is some of these vehicles as they move forward in flight. Have this transition, period because you have to transition, from vertical, takeoff to forward flight and, helicopters. That kind of occurs instantaneously but. For these vehicles you're gonna have this transition, period and that's interesting to kind of understand, and now you can see the vehicle flying.
In An urban center in this case it's a model of San Francisco, and our simulators, we can model almost, any type of urban, environment, or you, know any landscape, that we wish to understand, or understand, the procedures, of flying how, would I land how would I come in for my approach, these, are some of the things that we can explore so you can see this vehicle now coming, in for its approach and its landing, and this, is an interesting, question as you come in for your approach and your landing you can see that vehicle kind of pitch up a little bit so, how does that feel right so if Joey and I we're sitting in the back with coffees. In hand yeah, that coffee spill or kind of how would we get a war me first. Understanding. That passenger, experience is actually a really big part of some of the work that these simulators, can do so, it's not quite this simulator, but we have another. Motion, simulator, that allows us to understand, what is the passion, passenger, experience what are the forces, of elements, yeah what does it feel like right I'm, glad you're here cool, I got, sick on a whale watch this year so I would like you to find. So. These, simulators, this, this for me was one of the coolest things I heard about do you have a favorite, aspect. Of this researcher, what's a really cool thing you want to share yeah, so I'd say the number, of questions that this research is kind of highlighting. Is really interesting, and the fact that it's this new era of aviation this, new mode of transportation is is very, exciting, so as. This, technology kind, of develops, and these these new vehicle. Configurations, come to life and we're starting to explore them I think the really interesting thing, is that this, is a. Area. Of work that's going to continue, so all those folks that are interested in understanding or, maybe even participating. In this area you have a chance to really be part of it so people out there have a chance to be part of this new era of Transportation, they can actually be involved which i think is really, right yeah this is by no means finished and settled right we spray need help exactly, yeah awesome, what about you Joey.
What. In what I'm looking forward to or what I was talking about yeah, you. Know just taking a step back and looking at it from the outside we are getting a little closer to being Jetsons. World right. We're. Talking about buying cars before yeah you know we're still a few steps away from that. Mm-hm but you know we're getting there we're, gonna hopefully have some more operations, in the herb environment than we had before great they're gonna happen safely they're gonna get us closer to exactly where we want to go it's. Really to really need to see that's totally, cool yeah. Well. Not everybody questions, piling, up miju yeah. Especially. You were speaking about like the passenger, passenger. Experience, and things like that legit, twitch channel has a question well people will be required to wear parachutes what kind of safety measures would we. Expect in oxygen. Masks life jackets, things like that yeah yeah I know I think that's a great question and it raises the fact that as these vehicles are getting certified, there, is that aspect of, ensuring, safe, operations, and in the case of off-nominal events ensuring, that those folks on board have the appropriate mechanisms, to ensure safety of life right, so just, like we have the. Safety briefing we all love to sit in when we get when we go fly under the aircraft, there, has to be some, think most likely similar for for, passenger, carrying vehicles, even if they're urban air mobility vehicles so safety is the, number one concern for, us for the FAA and for, industry that's developing, these vehicles so there will most, likely be something similar we just don't know quite what yet yeah awesome. Johnny. Cz, 25. Trying. To pronounce these names. Well. The will. It have aircraft cameras with special software to create a landing point. I, know, that you have worked on yeah. Landing. So, there is ins there's. A there's, a lot in that question yeah. Because. It speaks. To the number. Of ways you can accomplish things right. So yes you even look at the small drones they do have cameras, of different, types that help identify if, a landing location is safe to land or not because, you can plan ahead of time I'm going to land in this open field right and I'm gonna go there and I'm gonna land there and everything's good but, you get there and there's a car there or people are having a picnic right right do, you have a system on board that can help you identify that, and then go to an alternate location so. Some, visual technology, is used to do that some, of that has been developed at NASA Langley for, example to, do those sorts of things. And in. General when they're planning, their operations, there would be some visualization probably, of whe