In 2017, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Singapore Ministry of Transport took a major step for the drone industry, issuing a Call for Proposals to research, prototype, and implement a working Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system. More specifically, they were seeking a robust system that could function in Singapore’s unique urban environments and advance urban air mobility (UAM) applications, including Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) operations.
A few months later, OneSky, and consortium partner Nova Systems, were on the receiving end of that contract and quickly launched a plan to advance Singapore’s UTM efforts. Over the next three years, the two teams collaborated together to develop and test numerous advanced UTM services, including: flight authorization, strategic deconfliction, conformance monitoring, real time alerts, constraint management, and Remote Identification capabilities. This week the work came to a conclusion during the final project milestone, as OneSky was able to demonstrate those capabilities in a working UTM system through live BVLOS flight trails in the skies above Singapore.
UTM in Challenging Environments
“We started by studying the infrastructure in Singapore, and understanding the airspace challenges of implementing UTM in that environment, “ said Daniel Honaker, Head of International Implementation at OneSky. “That included looking closely at issues like LTE signal strength at altitude and GNSS performance in urban canyons. We modeled the systems involved and simulated their behavior, and then tested and validated our assumptions in two sets of live trials.”
OneSky’s platform is uniquely capable of adapting to complex, urban environments. The system is designed to incorporate many varied data sets into a single, easy to understand interface for improved situation awareness and decision making. “Our first step was to modify and add data sets that are relevant to the low level airspace in Singapore,” Daniel explained. “That included terrain data and building data for the geospatial base layers, airspace boundaries and restricted areas provided by CAAS, and live airspace data including weather services and ship tracking (AIS) data.”
Advanced UTM Operations and Services
The Singapore project has allowed OneSky to explore advanced UTM operations and services like strategic deconfliction, dynamic rerouting, and conformance monitoring. “Some of these concepts had been talked about, but had not actually been demonstrated at the time,” Daniel said.“ That’s where we were really able to bring innovative solutions forward for Singapore.”
Moreover, the OneSky team has been able to gain valuable insight and experience in strategic deconfliction and dynamic rerouting in high-risk environments, like Singapore, which includes dense urban areas with high-rise buildings combined with ever changing weather events. Contemporary UTM trials have successfully demonstrated strategic conflict detection during flight planning (FAA UPP2), but have not tackled the deconfliction problem. The OneSky team was able to demonstrate strategic deconfliction during the flight planning process, and dynamic rerouting in the case of an unexpected constraint during operations: taking multiple data points into account to establish the safest possible alternative. “The UTM industry has laid the foundations for strategic deconfliction by standardizing the discovery and sharing of operations and airspace constraints. Everyone must share the same airspace representation before it’s possible to actively deconflict our operations from each other and the environment.” Dan continued. “We’re learning a lot about how to consider all of the constraints in an environment, and how that affects UTM, including: weather, terrain, public events, manned aircraft, and dynamic ground risk.
Conformance monitoring is another area that has not been widely implemented yet. This allows stakeholders to ensure that a flight is adhering to the operation’s reserved time and volume allowed by the appropriate authority, while the flight is in the air. In the case that a flight is non-conforming or is in contingency mode, actions are taken by the OneSky UTM to notify the operator as well as the rest of the UAS network in vicinity to the operation.
OneSky also integrated routing and scheduling algorithms from their technology partner, Nova Systems. Nova’s multi-agent routing and scheduling (MARS) application automatically deconflicts flight requests submitted by their flight management system (FMS). Together, OneSky and Nova were able to demonstrate in their final set of live trials, two USS systems capable of sharing operations and constraints, enabling deconfictions in real time.
Working with Emerging Standards to Benefit More Stakeholders
Since the project began, new ASTM standards have been introduced and new regulations, such as Remote ID, have emerged. OneSky has adapted throughout the project to incorporate those new standards, ensuring that the platform is compliant and as implementation-ready as possible for airspace regulators, operators and the entire industry. For Singapore’s aviation authority, the necessity for UTM is clear to enable safe drone flights: but drone operators in Singapore are now able to see the real benefits provided by a single usable interface that includes their aircraft telemetry and multiple other real-time data sources.
Bob Hammett, CEO of OneSky added, “We’re excited to have played a critical role in this successful UTM deployment - demonstrating the feasibility of safe and efficient integration of unmanned aircraft into the crowded airspace of Singapore. CAAS was an early proponent and thought leader for UTM and this trial marks a milestone in advancing Singapore’s Urban Air Mobility vision. We’re looking forward to expanding on this work and operationalizing the technology across the region.”
To learn more about OneSky’s UTM, check out our website: https://www.onesky.xyz/utm-platform