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m:N and Human Autonomy Teaming Concepts for High Density Vertiport Operations  (2021)
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The emergence of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) as an area for research and investment has led to the development of a variety of Concepts of Operations (ConOps) that propose a set of nominal architectures and technological capabilities that are critical for incorporating vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft into rural, suburban, and urban environments. The "High-Density Automated Vertiport Concept of Operations" covers operations in and around "vertiports", which are defined as an "identifiable ground or elevated area used for the takeoff and landing of VTOL aircraft" [NUAIR, 2021]. Similar to terminal area operations for traditional aviation, operations involving high-density vertiports (HDVs) will need to be highly structured while also remaining resilient to the various contingencies that can happen in that environment.

There are numerous stakeholders that are central to the AAM and HDV ConOps. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) will maintain regulatory oversight, while state and local governments will be expected to impose operational limitations on activities in their region. Providers of Services to Urban Air Mobility (PSU) will be responsible for managing the exchange of data between operators in a geographical area and a PSU Network will ensure information is shared across all stakeholders. Vehicles will have on-board or remote pilots who will be responsible for the health and state of the aircraft but will receive support from a Fleet Manager (FM), who supervises a fleet of vehicles and ensures proper coordination between the flight crew, the aircraft, and the PSU. Finally, a Vertiport Manager (VM) will manage the operations going into and out of one or more vertiports. The flight crew, FM, and VM will all receive additional support from automation at their respective positions.

This paper focuses on the role of the FM and, in particular, the ways in which automation could support their position as they manage multiple aircraft and operators in a highly dynamic environment. The role of the FM is consistent with an "m:N" architecture, where "m" number of operators cooperatively manage "N" number of vehicles (where "N" is always larger than "m"). In such a paradigm it is critical to provide the operator with the tools and information necessary to manage their fleet safely and navigate the known pitfalls with highly automated, complex systems (e.g., brittleness, insufficient situation awareness, skill degradation). As the field of m:N has expanded as an area of study, a set of higher-level automation concepts have emerged - namely "plays," "working agreements," and "human-autonomy teaming" (HAT) - that could support operators in this new role.
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Autonomy, Concepts, Density, High, Human, m:N, Operations, Teaming, Vertiport
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Adobe PDF Icon  NASA_TM_20210025392.pdf (Download Acrobat Reader Click to download Adobe Acrabat Reader)
  (526KB) (application/pdf)
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019