Testing Unmanned Aircraft for Roadside Avalanche Control

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General Information
Solicitation Number: 1265
Status: Solicitation withdrawn
Date Posted: Jun 10, 2010
Last Updated: Feb 25, 2013
Solicitation Expires: Jun 10, 2011
Partners: WA, WY
Lead Organization: Washington State Department of Transportation
Financial Summary
Commitment Start Year: 2011
Commitment End Year: 2013
100% SP&R Approval: Approved
Commitments Required: $160,000.00
Commitments Received: $20,000.00
Contact Information
Lead Study Contact(s): Kim Willoughby
willouk@wsdot.wa.gov
Organization Year Commitments Technical Contact Name Funding Contact Name Contact Number Email Address
Washington State Department of Transportation 2011 $5,000.00 Kim Willoughby 360-705-7978 willouk@wsdot.wa.gov
Wyoming Department of Transportation 2011 $15,000.00 Jamie Yount Michael Patritch 307-777-4182 michael.patritch@dot.state.wy.us

Background

In 2006 and 2007, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the University of Washington tested unmanned aircraft systems (i.e., UASs) above State Route 20 in the Cascade Mountains in North Central Washington State. The test explored both fixed and rotary wing aircraft with the overall requirements that the aircraft systems are both affordable and operable by transportation agencies and that they could be operated off or next to a roadway. USDOT¿s Joint Program Office and WSDOT provided the funding for this effort.

These tests demonstrated that smaller UASs could be valuable for a state DOT¿s maintenance and operations work. These tests showed that UASs are able to provide high-quality aerial information both on and alongside roadways and that they hold considerable potential to enhance WSDOT¿s avalanche control program. A series of flights demonstrated the ability of UASs to accurately drop avalanche control explosive charges and also to complete an autonomous aerial surveillance of avalanche zones. A project report for this test can be found at the link below.

While these first sets of flights clearly demonstrated the potential of UASs, the flights were also fairly constrained because of Federal Aviation Administration regulations. In addition, because the operators were not accustomed to flying in this type of terrain and the UASs were not optimized to fly at altitude, the UAS operators were very cautious about the test flights and unwilling to fully test their aircrafts¿ capabilities in the mountains.

Objectives

Work with other agencies responsible for avalanche control, expand on our previous efforts, and conduct a series of flights that will further test UASs in more realistic and rigorous applications while working with the requirement of a wider range of avalanche control personnel. This series of tests will address many of the limitations discovered in the first flights. Because we have considerably more experience working with the FAA regulations and permitting process, we will be able to better tailor the flight applications to meet our needs. Additionally, because the UAS operators now have some flight experience in the mountains, they have indicated that they are willing to perform more difficult and realistic test flights. The initial set of flights also demonstrated some flight performance limitation and control issues related to UAS weight that the operators are willing to address if we hire them for more tests. Finally, UAS technology is improving rapidly, and we will benefit from a number of software modifications and aircraft-related technical improvements that have occurred since our first test.

While the test sites for this effort could be negotiated, one location could be the site of the first test ¿ SR 20. If this roadway is used, the flight test could coincide with WSDOT¿s snow clearance and avalanche control operations to open SR 20 for the season (typically late April). Because SR 20 is closed to the public during the winter, the road can be used and the flights conducted without having to set up any sort of traffic control. This project could utilize the UASs in a manner that replicates an active roadway avalanche control operation and will provide information on the immediate adoptability of this technology by DOTs.

Scope of Work

This project will include the following tasks:

1. Identify UAS vendors that have aircraft appropriate in terms of capabilities, size, and operations cost for use by state DOTs. Develop contracts with the selected vendors for a series of test flights.

2. Obtain a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certificate of Authorization to conduct test flights with selected aircraft.

3. Set up the test area and conduct flights. The flights will test the UAS¿s ability to:

- fly along a long section of roadway to conduct a snow survey

- autonomously drop charges into pre-set zones to trigger controlled avalanches

- use surveillance equipment to examine an avalanche zone and to check for people in the area before the avalanche control staff uses explosives, and

- perform other tests as desired by the project participants.

4. Produce a report that will detail the procedures used in these tests and provide recommendations on the use of UASs by state DOTs for avalanche control and other maintenance and operations tasks. Develop presentations for conferences oriented toward avalanche professionals, such as the International Snow Science Workshop.

Comments

Minimum commitment per state is $10,000.

Documents Attached
Title File/Link Type Privacy Download
Testing Unmanned Aircraft for Roadside Avalanche Control http://depts.washington.edu/trac/bulkdisk/pdf/703.1.pdf Solicitation Public

Testing Unmanned Aircraft for Roadside Avalanche Control

General Information
Solicitation Number: 1265
Status: Solicitation withdrawn
Date Posted: Jun 10, 2010
Last Updated: Feb 25, 2013
Solicitation Expires: Jun 10, 2011
Partners: WA, WY
Lead Organization: Washington State Department of Transportation
Financial Summary
Commitment Start Year: 2011
Commitment End Year: 2013
100% SP&R Approval: Approved
Commitments Required: $160,000.00
Commitments Received: $20,000.00
Contact Information
Lead Study Contact(s): Kim Willoughby
willouk@wsdot.wa.gov
Commitments by Organizations
Agency Year Commitments Technical Contact Name Funding Contact Name Contact Number Email Address
Washington State Department of Transportation 2011 $5,000.00 Kim Willoughby 360-705-7978 willouk@wsdot.wa.gov
Wyoming Department of Transportation 2011 $15,000.00 Jamie Yount Michael Patritch 307-777-4182 michael.patritch@dot.state.wy.us

Background

In 2006 and 2007, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the University of Washington tested unmanned aircraft systems (i.e., UASs) above State Route 20 in the Cascade Mountains in North Central Washington State. The test explored both fixed and rotary wing aircraft with the overall requirements that the aircraft systems are both affordable and operable by transportation agencies and that they could be operated off or next to a roadway. USDOT¿s Joint Program Office and WSDOT provided the funding for this effort.

These tests demonstrated that smaller UASs could be valuable for a state DOT¿s maintenance and operations work. These tests showed that UASs are able to provide high-quality aerial information both on and alongside roadways and that they hold considerable potential to enhance WSDOT¿s avalanche control program. A series of flights demonstrated the ability of UASs to accurately drop avalanche control explosive charges and also to complete an autonomous aerial surveillance of avalanche zones. A project report for this test can be found at the link below.

While these first sets of flights clearly demonstrated the potential of UASs, the flights were also fairly constrained because of Federal Aviation Administration regulations. In addition, because the operators were not accustomed to flying in this type of terrain and the UASs were not optimized to fly at altitude, the UAS operators were very cautious about the test flights and unwilling to fully test their aircrafts¿ capabilities in the mountains.

Objectives

Work with other agencies responsible for avalanche control, expand on our previous efforts, and conduct a series of flights that will further test UASs in more realistic and rigorous applications while working with the requirement of a wider range of avalanche control personnel. This series of tests will address many of the limitations discovered in the first flights. Because we have considerably more experience working with the FAA regulations and permitting process, we will be able to better tailor the flight applications to meet our needs. Additionally, because the UAS operators now have some flight experience in the mountains, they have indicated that they are willing to perform more difficult and realistic test flights. The initial set of flights also demonstrated some flight performance limitation and control issues related to UAS weight that the operators are willing to address if we hire them for more tests. Finally, UAS technology is improving rapidly, and we will benefit from a number of software modifications and aircraft-related technical improvements that have occurred since our first test.

While the test sites for this effort could be negotiated, one location could be the site of the first test ¿ SR 20. If this roadway is used, the flight test could coincide with WSDOT¿s snow clearance and avalanche control operations to open SR 20 for the season (typically late April). Because SR 20 is closed to the public during the winter, the road can be used and the flights conducted without having to set up any sort of traffic control. This project could utilize the UASs in a manner that replicates an active roadway avalanche control operation and will provide information on the immediate adoptability of this technology by DOTs.

Scope of Work

This project will include the following tasks:

1. Identify UAS vendors that have aircraft appropriate in terms of capabilities, size, and operations cost for use by state DOTs. Develop contracts with the selected vendors for a series of test flights.

2. Obtain a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certificate of Authorization to conduct test flights with selected aircraft.

3. Set up the test area and conduct flights. The flights will test the UAS¿s ability to:

- fly along a long section of roadway to conduct a snow survey

- autonomously drop charges into pre-set zones to trigger controlled avalanches

- use surveillance equipment to examine an avalanche zone and to check for people in the area before the avalanche control staff uses explosives, and

- perform other tests as desired by the project participants.

4. Produce a report that will detail the procedures used in these tests and provide recommendations on the use of UASs by state DOTs for avalanche control and other maintenance and operations tasks. Develop presentations for conferences oriented toward avalanche professionals, such as the International Snow Science Workshop.

Comments

Minimum commitment per state is $10,000.

Title Type Private
Testing Unmanned Aircraft for Roadside Avalanche Control Solicitation N

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