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Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) including passenger transport and Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) requires autonomy capable of safely managing contingency responses as well as routine flight. This talk will first show pathways from aviation today to a fully autonomous future AAM. Research toward comprehensive low-altitude flight environment mapping to maximize situational awareness will be summarized. An Assured Contingency Landing Management (ACLM) pipeline will be defined. Hazards/failures that risk loss of vehicle controllability or loss of landing site reachability first trigger contingency response. Pre-flight preparation and storage of contingency landing plans to prepared landing sites must be supplemented by online planning potentially to unprepared landing sites when necessary. Airspace management considerations to safely support ACLM as well as new AAM and UAS operations will be discussed in the context of both presented pathways from today to AAM.
About the speaker: Dr. Ella Atkins is Fred D. Durham Professor and Head of the Kevin T. Crofton Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. She was previously a Professor in the University of Michigan’s Aerospace Engineering and Robotics Departments. Dr. Atkins holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan. She is an AIAA Fellow and private pilot. She has authored over 240 refereed journal and conference papers. Dr. Atkins pursues research in AI-enabled autonomy and control to support resilience and contingency management in manned and unmanned Aerospace applications with focus on Advanced Air Mobility and Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS). She is Editor-in-Chief of the AIAA Journal of Aerospace Information Systems (JAIS).