GreenSight Developing PreSound, an Autonomy-Enabling Aircraft Health Monitoring System
GreenSight recently kicked off the NASA SBIR-funded PreSound program, developing cutting edge techniques for automatically detecting structural and mechanical problems in aircraft. The system uses vibration and acoustic measurements to identify and locate defects, through novel preprocessing algorithms and the latest artificial intelligence/machine learning classification techniques. Sensor data comes from both the onboard IMU that is already present on all UAVs, as well as supplemental transducers applied inside and outside the airframe. The first 6-month stage of the program will result in a proof-of-concept demonstration (TRL 4). Led by GreenSight in collaboration with vibration and acoustics experts from Boston University, it is focused on experimental data collection techniques and processes using GreenSight’s Dreamer UAV as a testbed, and on signal processing algorithm development.
PreSound is inspired by GreenSight’s own commercial drone intelligence business. Within the next few years we plan to operate fully autonomous aircraft that take off, perform missions, land, recharge, and safely stow themselves in shelters, without the need for humans to be nearby. Currently, drone operators such as GreenSight need to perform a hands-on inspection of the aircraft before each flight to spot problems such as broken propellers, loose fasteners, and cracked chassis parts. This hands-on inspection is not merely a practical requirement, but is mandated by the FAA rules for commercial UAV operations. The ultimate goal of the Presound technology is to exceed the inspection safety standards that currently depend on humans. PreSound will become part of an automated diagnostics toolkit that will facilitate safe and legal unattended UAV operations.
Advanced Air Mobility, with its many vehicle concepts and potential uses in both local and intraregional applications, is shown in this illustration. Credits: NASA.
PreSound is not only useful for small UAVs, but for any aircraft. The next phase of the program will concentrate on applying the technology to aircraft with human passengers. NASA has been a pioneer in supporting research and development enabling Urban Air Mobility (UAM) to become a reality. This exciting new category of aviation essentially scales up UAV technologies such as autonomous flight control and distributed electric propulsion to enable low-cost electric vertical-takeoff air taxis. NASA engineers at Langley Research Center are pursuing new technologies that will make UAM safe, reliable, and quiet. GreenSight has already initiated discussions with multiple UAM aircraft manufacturers as well as the FAA to explore how PreSound can be used to enable UAM.
In addition to the expertise brought by NASA, GreenSight is excited to work with Boston University Professors Sheryl Grace and J. Gregory McDaniel. Dr. Grace is PI of the Unsteady Fluid Mechanics & Acoustics Laboratory (www.bu.edu/ufmal/) and brings extensive UAV/UAM aeroacoustics research experience. Dr. McDanel has discovered a wide range of novel applications for sound and vibration analysis and runs the Sound and Vibration Laboratory at BU.
GreenSight is a US developer and manufacturer of cutting edge unmanned aerial vehicles and associated technologies. The company maintains one of the worlds largest fleets of fully automated drones which fly daily over golf courses, farms and other facilities throughout North America, Europe and Japan. GreenSight has developed a unique intelligence platform combining a class leading flight time custom drone, patented camera sensors and machine learning powered image analytics. Over 9000 flights have been conducted at over 250 unique customer locations. GreenSight has conducted successful projects for dozens of large technology and aerospace companies, startups as well as multiple branches of the US DoD.
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