Urban Air Mobility: Help for UAM Innovators to Navigate the Unknown

By Percy Sanford, UAM Leader

In as early as 2023, Uber plans to begin offering its aerial ridesharing services. Firms such as Performance Software can provide help for UAM innovators to achieve their lofty goals. While strides are being made to advance urban aviation, the challenges remain. UAM innovators are working relentlessly to address the astronomical challenges the industry faces including design, development, and certification. Although UAM is still a relatively new market with much to be discovered, the solutions are a lot closer than it may seem.

Performance Software has more than 20 years of regional business jet experience. With more than 400 successful programs, we have helped our customers reduce the risk and costs of some of the largest programs in aviation history. We also support and give help for UAM innovators to tackle the challenges they face in bringing that technology to full-scale adoption. Performance’s deep experience in avionics provides numerous advantages when addressing the challenges of the UAM industry. We are determined to bridge the lack of knowledge and talent gap in developing autonomous applications to operate in a certifiable, cyber compliant, and safety-critical environment.

Performance UAM Solutions and Help for UAM Innovators

Precision Navigating and Mapping

One of the biggest challenges faced by UAM vehicles (UAMV) is their need to operate safely in congested urban environments. UAMVs need to be able to plot routes through cities that allow them to keep a safe distance from potential obstacles and from each other while quickly and efficiently bringing passengers to their destination whether piloted or not.

Performance Precision Navigation and Mapping™ provides help for UAM innovators with in-memory-maps for UAMVs, and pilots and passengers with photo-realistic experiences at the highest precision in the market. Resulting in increased safety, efficiency, and peace of mind.

  • Precise route definition and route replay simulation for UAMVs in urban areas
  • Provide mapping and ADSB-in based data augmentation to sensor-based navigation and traffic control
  • Ecosystem overlays of communications coverage, weather, traffic congestion, and cleared private airspace
  • Boost passengers’ confidence in flying autonomous UAMVs in poor conditions through virtual reality

Flight Safety

Another benefit that Performance brings to the UAM space is its years of technical experience in-flight controls and flight management systems. Performance has worked on a wide range of OEM aircraft including Boeing, Airbus, Sikorsky, Gulfstream, Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, Legacy, Bombardier, Mitsubishi, and more. This experience is not limited to manned aircraft as Performance has been involved in several military UAV projects as well.

Performance’s wide range of experience gives it the tools necessary to help ensure the safety of any aircraft. Some of the key solutions that we can provide include:

  • Fly-by-wire system for automation and smooth flight experience
  • Collision avoidance and infrastructure proximity warning
  • Flight planning optimization and Performance prediction
  • Horizontal-Ground <1 m, Vertical-Height <5m navigation

Airworthiness Certification

UAMVs will be subject to regulatory mandates to address the new challenges associated with low-altitude, high-volume, and close proximity inter-vehicular negotiations. Beyond the need to comply with the high safety standards of the commercial aircraft industry, UAM manufacturers will need to meet the requirements of UAM-specific regulations and certifications designed to ensure that their vehicles can operate safely in an urban environment.

During the planning stages of the UAM development process, manufacturers need to be aware of the applicable regulations and best practice solutions for meeting them. Performance offers years of experience in achieving compliance with aviation regulations and standards for a variety of components, including:

  • Safety-Critical Software – DO-178B/C design assurance levels (DAL) A through D criticality
  • Full Lifecycle Program Certification – ARP-4754 systems requirements, validation, and verification
  • Hardware – DO-254 compliance to hardware standards, Firmware development, and validation
  • Standard Data Processes – DO-200A, Type 1 LOA holder, certified for airport mapping database

JETS – Systems and Software Emulation

Manufacturing and testing a UAMV is expensive, therefore most potential issues need to be worked out during the design process. Accomplishing this requires emulation tools that are able to realistically simulate the conditions that the aircraft will be operating under and how various solutions and components will respond.

JETS is a cloud-based systems and software development platform for the rapid development of avionics products. By using our FAA-approved virtual platform, companies realize the benefit of unlimited access to hardware. Accelerate your time to market by finding bugs sooner, efficiently developing software, and running tests for score every time.

  • Shorter Time to Market: With JETS, you have access to unlimited hardware. Enable your programs to start software development before hardware is available and complete systems and software tests 10X faster.
  • Increased Safety: Create higher-quality software and cyber-secure solutions. Formally test your code and complete vulnerability and penetration tests in emulated environments.
  • Reduced Hardware Costs: Save up to 10X when you replace your hardware with JETS, allowing test parallelization and scaling both locally or on the cloud.
  • Certification Credit with FAA: JETS is an FAA-approved emulation platform that can be used for continuous integration and testing, ensuring that the product is always compliant with relevant certifications.

Cyber Security

Before deploying a UAMV, it is important to ensure that it is cyber-resilient. By leveraging the JETS emulation environment and Performance Software’s extensive experience in adversarial testing of avionics systems, you can dramatically lower the cyber vulnerability of your product and improve customer experience and confidence in their vehicle.

In the race to bring UAM concepts to global markets, aerospace designers and engineers are looking to various technologies such as onboard sensors for DAA (Detect And Avoid) capability, inflight connectivity, communication links, and automated/autonomous flight navigation.

However, UAMVs are vulnerable to kinetic and non-kinetic outside influences in three different areas: (1) vulnerable communication links to a ground station, (2) ground station vulnerabilities, and (3) vulnerable sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Performance is the right partner to ensure flawless system performance for UAM cyber security. We are leading the way with innovations for testing and validating data concentrators, sensors, communications, flight navigation systems, and overall electronic system performance. Working with our customers and partners to meet their exact requirements, Performance offers unique test solutions:

  • Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing
  • Application Security Testing
  • Cyber by Industry and Compliance Standards
  • Cyber Risk Assessments

Performance Dataloader

The environment in which UAM vehicles will operate means that they need an efficient and dependable dataloader. Performance Dataloader components are ARINC 615A compliant and perform Upload, Batch Upload, Operator Defined Download, FIND and Information operations.

The components can be customized to fit your needs and are available for purchase to use in developing your own resident dataload client, or onboard dataload server, or as a lab/field dataloader. They provide a variety of advantages, including:

  • Reliability & Speed – Multiple proprietary methods have been added into our dataloader code base to reduce the frequency of failed loads and to optimize speed which produces a better operator experience.
  • Customizable & Flexible – Performance can customize the UI for your specific needs. The solution is hardware flexible.
  • Modular & Portable Design – Allows for easy dataloader client and server development.
  • Superior Debugging – Improved debug and logging capability.
  • Enables Automation – Support for command-line access and scripting APIs allow for automation of dataloading and can provide a test framework for verification of your dataloader client application.

Partnering with Performance Software for UAM

Performance Software has been involved in the avionics industry for a number of years and is excited to be involved in the next stage of urban transportation. If you are interested in partnering with Performance Software for UAM development, reach out for a consultation.