ICUAS'17 Paper Abstract


Paper WeC1.2

Zoldi, Dawn (United States Air Force Academy), Hyer, Timothy (US Air Force Academy), Switzer, Jessica (United States Air Force)

Opening the Aperture: Regulatory Changes for Safe Autonomous Flight in the U.S. National Airspace

Scheduled for presentation during the "Autonomy - III" (WeC1), Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 17:00−17:20, Salon E

2017 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, June 13-16, 2017, Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay, Miami, FL,

This information is tentative and subject to change. Compiled on April 12, 2021

Keywords Autonomy, Airspace Management, See-and-avoid Systems


Autonomous systems are a part of everyday life. Tesla recently introduced the Model S and Model X line of automobiles, which have self-drive capabilities including the ability to self-park.1 Other commonly accepted autonomous systems include automatic emergency braking for vehicles and even house cleaning robots, to name a few.2 Most manned and UAS today are semi-autonomous. Yet for many, the idea of fully autonomous UAS operations in the United States national airspace system (NAS) seems a bridge too far.

The purpose of this paper is to review current FAA regulations in light of anticipated technological advances and propose regulatory suggestions to enable autonomous UAS flights in the U.S. NAS. To do this, Part I summarizes relevant UAS regulations and the rationale behind them. Part II identifies different types of technological advances necessary to mitigate concerns associated with UAS flight safety in general and as applicable to autonomous flight. Part III explores potential regulatory improvements that will be required once sufficient technological mitigation measures exist. Part IV concludes by suggesting a new philosophical paradigm is required, in addition to regulatory and other changes, to truly open up the aperture in the NAS for safe autonomous unmanned flight.



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