WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio –
The SkyVision team, a joint effort between the Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the state of Ohio, and industry partners, has been selected as the first-place winner in the Technology & Innovation (Hardware – Platform) category of this year’s Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI) Awards.
AUVSI made the announcement in an Oct. 2 news release. The award will be presented during the AUVSI XPONENTIAL event, being held virtually this year on Oct. 6.
“The recognition by AUVSI, an established leader and proponent of Unmanned Aircraft Systems is both humbling and inspiring,” said Lt. Col. Dan Kimball, AFRL Director of Operations. “UAS technology is a rapidly growing industry with applications that will change our way of life. The SkyVision team is proud to be considered and recognized as a significant contributor to this field. This is a collaborative effort and wouldn’t be possible without the support and effort of the whole team. We look forward to collaborating with industry and growing both our capabilities and the field as a whole.”
SkyVision can be described as an air traffic control system for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). It’s a Ground-Based Detect and Avoid capability that was fielded in 2019 at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport near Wright-Patterson. The system enables UAS operations to meet a Federal Aviation Regulatory requirement to “see and avoid” other aircraft while being remotely operated by the UAS pilot in command.
The system is targeted at two main constituencies – military researchers and civil/commercial customers who have a need to fly their UAS in Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) mode.
For AFRL researchers, SkyVision’s usefulness stems primarily from its proximity to Wright-Patterson, eliminating the need (and cost) to deploy to a DOD range in order to get access to restricted airspace.
“Enabling these researchers to stay close to home allows them to conduct experiments more quickly and thus speed the innovation process,” said Art Huber, then Deputy Director of Operations at AFRL during the award nomination process. “For civil and commercial customers, SkyVision enables flight operations in the National Airspace System more closely approximating their eventual use environments. It also affords them a place where they can prove their UAS technologies which would otherwise be impossible or extremely cost-prohibitive anywhere else. Other sites may enable BVLOS flights, but not without visual observers or chase aircraft or restrictions on the class of UAV,” he added.
“The rapid growth of the unmanned systems industry is reshaping our future by expanding business markets, providing consumers with innovative solutions and even saving lives," said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. "The XCELLENCE awards recognize companies and individuals who are achieving remarkable results with unmanned systems technology to benefit our communities.”
The AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards honor innovators with a demonstrated commitment to advancing autonomy, leading and promoting safe adoption of unmanned systems, and developing programs that use these technologies to save lives and improve the human condition.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com