April 1, 2023


An Unmanned Community

Detect-and-Avoid Computer Tested on Long-Range UAV

UAV Factory Penguin C UASUAV Factory Penguin C UAS

Sagetech Avionics has successfully demonstrated the use of an ACAS X-based Detect and Avoid (DAA) computer on board UAV Factory’s Penguin C UAS (unmanned aerial system). The demonstration was part of the first phase of a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) for the United States Air Force.

ACAS X is the next generation of airborne collision avoidance technology and has become an international standard. It uses advanced algorithmic techniques and probabilistic models to obtain the safest and best possible collision avoidance system for all classes of piloted and unpiloted aircraft.

Sagetech has integrated the ACAS X algorithms on their DAA computer and paired it with their MX transponder to receive ADS-B In track data. The MX transponder is the only micro transponder that includes integrated ADS-B In, a critical sensor input to the ACAS logic. Sagetech has also been collaborating with the FAA’s TCAS program office to test the future ACAS algorithms (ACAS-sXu and ACAS-Xr) that are yet to be released. Sagetech’s flight testing helps validate the models used to verify the ACAS algorithms to ensure statistical models accurately predict real world performance.

Sagetech and UND Aerospace Foundation (UNDAF) selected the Penguin C aircraft to flight test the new solution due to its flexible payload configuration and cost-effective operations. The system is optimized for gyro-stabilized day and night payloads with weights under 4.5 lb. Sagetech plans to release their DAA computer at the end of the year, and will be working with UAV Factory to fully integrate it into the Penguin family of aircraft.

Matt Hamilton, CTO of Sagetech Avionics, commented: “This technology is critical to unlocking the full potential of UAVs and allowing for safe BVLOS [beyond visual line of sight] missions. Safe DAA cannot be achieved with a single sensor; it’s a combination of sensors including validated ADS-B In data feeding the proven ACAS algorithms for collision avoidance calculations and alerts.”

Neal Suchy of the FAA’s TCAS Program Office said: “Sagetech’s prototype ACAS Xr device integrated into a UAS demonstrated the receipt of RWC [remain well clear] and CA [collision avoidance] alerts. These results along with their planned testing of omni-directional surveillance will prove useful to the continued development of the ACAS X system for use in rotorcraft.”

Josh Brungardt, UAV Factory’s Executive Vice President, stated: “The Penguin C aircraft provides simple customized payload integration and has an endurance of up to 20 hours. With its maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 50.7 lb, the Penguin C packs significant capabilities into a small and versatile aircraft platform for performing a wide variety of missions. The aircraft uses a sophisticated parachute recovery system, which eliminates the need for bulky landing equipment and can also be deployed for emergency landings. The addition of Sagetech’s DAA solution to the industry-leading Penguin C aircraft, with its proven parachute recovery system creates the world’s best safety case for flying BVLOS missions.”