Tag Archives: atc

Cognitive Radio and Unmanned Aircraft

The Role of Cognitive Radio in Remote Operation of UAS

PIs: Timothy X Brown and Douglas Sicker

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) have the potential to play an important social, economic, and security role in the National Airspace System (NAS). The largest current barrier to the use of unmanned aircraft in the NAS is satisfaction of FAA regulations regarding safe flight operations and Air Traffic Control (ATC). In particular, the FAA requires all aircraft operating in the NAS to have detect, sense, and avoid capabilities; communication with ATC; as well as communication with a remote operator. Thus, one of the primary concerns in UAS deployment is the availability and allocation of bandwidth and spectrum for control, command, and communication (C3).

A significant C3 role can be filled by new radio technologies. One such technology is cognitive radio (CR). CRs enable fine-grained time, frequency, and location allocations of radio spectrum for communication. Current approaches allocate large swaths of spectrum over large regions for decades at a time. Finer grained allocations foster more efficient use of the spectrum with greater communication capacity to support future UAS growth and innovation. More importantly, CR can make such allocations automatically while still adhering to government policies. This automation provides government regulatory flexibility that is not currently present. However, such automated allocation has operational, security, and policy implications that are yet to be addressed for UAS.

This project investigates the possible operational models and infrastructure required to support CR-based spectrum allocation at different levels of granularity; and the security and policy models needed to support CR-based spectrum allocation. Information from this research will be relevant for the development of future requirements and standards for UAS and the NAS in general.