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Hanga Talk


NASA’s CERTAIN Program Uses NextNav’s 3D Geolocation Technology (MBS) for Urban Drone Operations


NextNav, the pioneer in 3D geolocation services, recently announced that its Metropolitan Beacon System (MBS) service has been accepted for use by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA will use NextNav’s MBS network as part of its CERTAIN (City Environment for Range Testing of Autonomous Integrated Navigation) facilities at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. CERTAIN supports, among other programs, Urban Air Mobility (UAM), an air transportation system with myriad applications from small package delivery drones to passenger-carrying air taxies.


NextNav’s MBS system facilitates urban drone operations where satellite- based GPS signals may not be available, and the need to reliably know a drone’s location horizontally and vertically is critical to ensure safe operations in urban air traffic corridors.


“NextNav’s MBS system provides us with new tools for the development of navigation systems in environments where GPS has traditionally been challenged,” said Evan Dill of NASA’s Safety-Critical Avionics Systems Branch. “We’re looking forward to working with MBS as we develop new approaches to the operation of unmanned systems in urban environments.”


NextNav’s wide-area terrestrial positioning network ensures accurate and secure location services, which is critical for unmanned aircraft navigation. In addition, MBS complements and integrates seamlessly with GPS and provides a level of georedundancy ensuring a safe and efficient system for future air transportation in cities and urban areas.


AUVSI Launches Trusted Operator Program


The Association for Unmanned


Vehicle


Systems International (AUVSI) recently launched the Trusted Operator Program (TOP), a new certification program available to remote pilots and unmanned aircraft system (UAS) training organizations. Through TOP, operators and organizations can distinguish themselves in a growing marketplace by holding themselves to a higher standard of safety and professionalism.


“The TOP certification process results in an AUVSI-sponsored seal of approval for individuals and organizations who demonstrate a higher level of training, knowledge and commitment to safety that goes above and beyond the FAA’s requirements,” said Tracy Lamb, vice president of Regulatory and Safety Affairs and chief pilot of AUVSI. “Someone looking to hire a UAS operator to take images of property, inspect a roof or survey infrastructure can look for TOP-certified operators and be assured they have the knowledge and experience to operate safely and proficiently.”


TOP uses safety standards developed by accredited standards bodies, international safety experts, aviation regulations from the Federal Aviation


36 Nov/Dec 2018


Administration (FAA), and other regulatory authorities and associations to certify a UAS operator’s proficiency and ability to operate safely.


AUVSI developed TOP after collaboration through the TOP Steering Committee, a group of more than 197 subject-matter experts and industry leaders from more than 50 organizations across the globe. Their input helped develop three levels of TOP certification, each tailored to reflect different levels of safety resilience, skills, qualifications, and knowledge.


Level One covers low-risk operations under the FAA’s small UAS rule (Part 107), such as flights during the day, below 400 feet and away from people. Level Two is for operators who require a Part 107 waiver, a visual observer or sensor operator, or those that fall outside the Part 107 regulation. Level Three provides standards for operating in “safety critical” areas, such as near pipelines, powerlines, cell towers, or chemical, oil, and nuclear facilities.


Once operators receive certification, AUVSI will list them in a searchable TOP registry, where those looking for a qualified UAS operator can easily find a TOP-certified operator for their needs.


“We are proud to work with NASA and integrate MBS into its urban drone operations,” said Ganesh Pattabiraman, co-founder and CEO of NextNav. “The MBS system is designed for secure, reliable and consistent 3D geolocation capabilities which are important for autonomous systems such as drones. NASA’s acquisition of the MBS system is an exciting milestone for MBS technology and a great partnership with NASA to address the key challenges in urban drone navigation and make it possible to explore new opportunities in unmanned operations.”


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) believes that by 2022 there will be over 700,000 drones delivering packages, monitoring traffic, and aiding in search and rescue operations.


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