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Development of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Vehicles for Ease of Operation  (2023)
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To date the air transportation system has been developed with the incremental introduction of new technology and with highly experienced air transport pilots and air traffic controllers overseeing flight operations. Thus, we currently have one of the safest commercial aviation systems in the world. Gen-eral Aviation (GA) in the United States, however, has not always followed the same cautious and monitored approach to implementation; consequently, the GA safety record does not meet the high standards of commercial aviation. Recently, a new system known as Urban Air Mobility (UAM), is attracting considerable interest and investment from industry and government agencies. UAM refers to a system of passenger and small-cargo air transportation vehicles within an urban area with the goal of reducing the number of times we need to use our cars, thus improving urban traffic by moving people and cargo from crowded single passenger vehicles on our roads to personal and on-demand air vehicles. These UAM vehicles will be small and based on electric, Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing (eV-TOL) systems. A significant component of UAM is offloading of flight-man-agement responsibilities from human pilots to newly-developed autonomy. Currently, over 100 UAM vehicles are either in development or production. Most, if not all, have a goal of fully autonomous vehicle operations, but fully autonomous flying vehicles are not expected in the near future. Therefore, we are developing concepts for UAM vehicles that will be easy to fly and/or manage by operators with minimal pilot training. In this paper we will discuss our human-automation teaming approach to develop an easy-to-operate VTOL aircraft, and some of the fly-by-wire technology needed to stabilize the vehicle so that a simple ecological mental model of the flying task can be implemented. We will discuss the requirements for a stability augmentation system that must be developed to support our simple pilot input model, and also present design guidelines and requirements based on a pilot input and management model. Finally, our approach to vehicle development will involve considerable operator testing and evaluation: improving pilot model, inceptors, displays and also work on a plan for how a UAM vehicle can be integrated with terminal area air traffic control airspace with minimal impact on controller workload.
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Air, Augmentation, eVTOL, Mobility, Stability, UAM, Urban
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In proceedings of HCI International 2023, Copenhagen, Denmark
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019