Value-based model and analysis of autonomous unmanned aircraft systems based on operational scenario

Vidyadharan, Akash
Major Professor
Christina L. Bloebaum
Halil Ceylan
Committee Member
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Aerospace Engineering
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Aerospace Engineering

In recent years, the use of UAS has moved much beyond the realm of military operations and has made its way into the hands of consumers and commercial industries. Although the applications of UAS in commercial industries are virtually endless, there are many issues regarding its operations that need to be considered before these valuable pieces of equipment may be allowed to run free in the skies. Currently, UAS operations in public domain is guided and controlled by the FAA Part 107 rules after overwhelming public pressure caused by the earlier 333 exemption. In order to approach such larger issues, this thesis will exploit the use of value models, which will help to quantify how the different environmental and operational scenarios play a role in UAS operations based on the task being performed. The primary aim of this research is to use the attributes of key factors of the UAS such as the Autonomy Levels (AL) and Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) along with its operating scenario factors such as the environmental complexity and task complexity, based on the operating environment in which the UAS performs its task. To analyze the performance of autonomous UAS in different operational scenarios, the physical characteristics and class of the UAS may be linked to its AL and TRL. Using these parameters, the risks faced by the UAS in a particular mission are quantified and a value is assigned to the abstract entities involved. Although there are many critical questions with respect to good practices to be followed by UAS operators in order to obtain valuable data and information on the structures being scanned and monitored, there are many other major challenges with regards to large scale operations of UAS such as the ethical, legal and societal implications that have to be addressed.