BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Commerce announced today that the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) has worked with the North Dakota National Guard (NDNG) to execute its first missions under the master agreement with the Devils Lake based-Camp Grafton Training Center facilities signed last month. This first project supported efforts for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to test concepts in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM). NASA has been researching these efforts in UTM for several years. This spring marks the third time the NPUASTS has conducted flights with NASA on UTM. Each event is scaled to evaluate varying levels of complexity in UAS UTM operations.
Each level is characterized as a Technical Capability Level (TCL). The levels started with TCL1 to evaluate the ability to operate multiple UAS in rather close proximity to each other at co-altitudes. TCL2 was performed in the spring 2017 and examined multiple aircraft flying beyond-visual-line-of-sight distances from the pilot and altitude stratified with other aircraft. TCL3 efforts are being flown at Camp Grafton this spring to evaluate supporting technologies, such as, redundant communications links with the UAS, communication link robustness through spectrum monitoring, public portals of information accessible from online, and remote identification methods for identifying UAS. These efforts are also looking into ways to harden the data sharing that occurs across the UTM system and make it more robust.
“Communications, navigation, and surveillance testing is critical to ensure unmanned aircraft remain under the operational control of the pilot,” said Arwa Aweiss, NASA’s UTM Flight Test Director. “These technologies help keep these aircraft within a well-defined area.”
The NPUASTS was able to conduct operations in late March to mid-April 2018 at the Camp Grafton North facilities. The NPUASTS teamed with a variety of industry partners to support the goals and objectives of the NASA UTM TCL3 tests to include Simulyze Inc., a team from Rockwell Collins and the University of Iowa, ISight RPV Services, SkySkopes, uAvionix, Altavian Inc., and Regulus Cyber.
“Camp Grafton was able to help us push the envelope of testing with its location and support from the National Guard. Being positioned close to the Devil’s Lake Airport and having many buildings and structures that make up a small urban environment made for an ideal testing location, said Nicholas Flom, Executive Director of the NPUASTS.
“The UTM concept is gaining traction in industry to allow for deconfliction of small UAS operations in low altitudes. This concept is scalable and allows for advances in concepts throughout all of the aviation industry. The ability to perform these tests at Camp Grafton was remarkable. The facilities were exactly what we needed to support these efforts and the staff was greatly accommodating to our needs.” says Chris Theisen, the principle investigator from the NPUASTS.
“The North Dakota National Guard is excited to partner with other government agencies and private industry to advance our nation’s efforts in Unmanned Aerial Systems research,” according to Brig. Gen. Robert Becklund, deputy adjutant general for the North Dakota National Guard. “Our facilities at Camp Grafton provide an extremely cost-effective and efficient area for UAS testing and validation and we are proud to be part of this effort with NASA and the NPUASTS.”
About Northern Plains UAS Test Site
The Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) is one of seven Federal Aviation Administration UAS test sites in the nation. The mission of the test site is to collaborate with FAA and industry partners to develop, systems, rules and procedures to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System without negatively impacting existing general or commercial aviation. For more information, visit www.npuasts.com.
About Camp Grafton
Camp Grafton Training Center is a Maneuver Training Center operated by the North Dakota National Guard and is located about 5 miles south of the city of Devils Lake. The CGTC property is comprised primarily of Camp Grafton North and Camp Grafton South. Camp Grafton North is located on the shores of Devils Lake and consists of about 1,000 acres with numerous training opportunities, lodging, PX, and dining facilities. Camp Grafton South is located approximately 40 miles southeast of Camp Grafton North and consists of approximately 9,300 acres of training areas and weapons ranges. CGTC is home to the North Dakota Army National Guard’s 164th Regional Training Institute.
About NASA’s UTM Project
The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) project at NASA aims to enable access to low-altitude airspace for small unmanned aircraft systems in a safe, efficient, and fair manner. To achieve this, NASA is collaborating with the FAA, UAS Test Sites, and industry to develop and test a UTM system research prototype with capabilities that will eventually become part of an operational system. This project is developed and managed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. Learn more at https://utm.arc.nasa.gov/index.shtml