Development, analysis, and implications of open-source simulations of remotely piloted aircraft

Cantarelo, Oihane Cereceda (2020) Development, analysis, and implications of open-source simulations of remotely piloted aircraft. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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In recent years, the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs) for diverse purposes has increased exponentially. As a consequence, the uncertainty created by situations turning into a threat for civilians has led to more restrictive regulations from national administrations such as Transport Canada. Their purpose is to safely integrate RPAs in the current airspace used for piloted aviation by evaluating Sense and Avoid (SAA) strategies and close encounters. The difficulty falls on having to rely on simulated environments because of the risk to the human pilot in the piloted aircraft. In the first part of this research, the technical difficulties associated with the development and study of RPA computer models are discussed. It explores the rationale behind using Open-Source Software (OSS) platforms for simulating RPAs as well as the challenges associated with interacting with OSS at graduate student level. A set of recommendations is proposed as the solution to improve the graduate student experience with OSS. In the second part, particular challenges related to the design of OSS computer models are addressed. Based on: (1) the differences and similarities between piloted and RPA flight simulators and (2) existing Verification and Validation (V&V) approaches, a validation method is presented as a solution to the subject of developing fixed-wing RPAs in OSS environments. This method is used to design two flight dynamics models with SAA applications. The first computer model is presented in tutorial format as a case study for the validation procedure whereas the second computer model is specific for testing SAA strategies. In the last part, one of the designed RPAs is integrated into a computer environment with a representative general aircraft. From the simulated encounters, a diving avoidance manoeuvre on the RPA is developed. This performance is observed to analyze the consequences to the airspace. The implications of this research are seen from three perspectives: (1) the OSS challenges in graduate school are wide-spread across disciplines, (2) the proposed validation procedure is adaptable to fit any computer model and simulation scenario, and (3) the simulated OSS framework with an RPA computer model has served for testing preliminary SAA methods with close encounters with manned aircraft.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 14356
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 142-161).
Keywords: open-source software, computational research, RPA computer model design, JSBSim flight dynamics model, sense and avoid for RPAs, RPA modelling and simulation
Department(s): Engineering and Applied Science, Faculty of
Date: February 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Drone aircraft--Computer simulation.

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