Laser detection and tracking of aircrafts based systems (LIDARs - 'Light Detection And Ranging systems') are emerging as a critical design trend in development of new generation ATM (Air Traffic Management) paradigms, of which they are the main innovations. The realisation of laser sensors as well as rotating laser range-finder arrays and their combination to versatile systems led to major advantages for application such as ATZ traffic control, airport surveillance and ground to air laser communications. Last but not least to save costs usually at the same time with getting an improved ATC (Air Traffic Control) performance. These laser systems that today can be developed without particular difficulties are challenging classical ATM paradigms in many aspects. Nevertheless, it is commonly recognised that the effectiveness of these systems strictly relies on the capability to reliably perform a track data fusion with airport radars and to manage a new generation ATM paradigm. In particular, driving and controlling a data fusion between laser tracking data and radar tracking data requires a very high computation power.
Correct knowledge based on theoretical and experimental data on the interaction between aircrafts and eye-safe lasers during take-off and landing operations can dramatically support a reliable data fusion between laser systems and radar systems to solve today's increasing ATC workload and to enable the possibility of defining new generation ATM paradigms that are today unaffordable at the industrial level.
The main goal of the project was to develop a novel laser tracking technology (SKY-Scanner System) capable of detecting and tracking aircrafts up to at least 6 nautical miles from the ATZ barycentre, namely a facility of enabling techniques, protocols, numerical prediction tools and devices specifically designed for the analysis of the laser systems performances in ATC applications. The final goal was the definition of a new generation ATM paradigm based on radar and laser tracking data fusion, and ground-to-air laser communications.
The scientific goals were:
- control of the tracking of aircrafts by means of a rotating cylindrical laser range-finder array;
- development of mathematical models of aircraft collision probability and optimal decision on corrective actions (DSS, Decision Support system) based on data fusion between radar data and laser tracking data fusion, and ground to air laser communications;
- development of a new generation ATM paradigm based on data fusion between radar data and laser tracking data fusion, and ground-to-air laser communications.
The proposed technology, which is completely novel, is composed of four main sub-systems to be integrated:
- Montecarlo System Simulation;
- Laser Sensor Array (LSA);
- Sensor Management Computer (SMC);
- Command and Control Computer (C2C).
Such an approach has not so far been applied in lidar engineering.
Scientific objectives of the proposed research include:
- control of the tracking of aircrafts by means of a rotating cylindrical laser range-finders
- development of mathematical models of aircraft collision probability and optimal decision on corrective actions (DSS, Decision Support System) based on data fusion between radar data and laser tracking data;
- definition of a new generation ATM paradigm based on data fusion between radar data
and laser tracking data and ground to aircraft laser communications.
A technological demonstrator is included in the validation process of the proposed methodology.
The last eight months of the first year of the project will take place at the Pescara Airport (Italy) and will be dedicated to a first measurement session of aircraft positions for the definition of the basic reference performances to be exploited in the subsequent field testing session, with the employment of a test target.
The project will introduce long-term innovation in the automatic tracking of aircraft with lidar systems, leading to major improvements in following different areas:
- lidar systems for ATC applications;
- DSS tools for new generation ATM paradigms;
- lidar systems for ATZ surveillance and sensible targets surveillance;
- lidar systems for transportation systems laser imaging;
- point to point laser communications;
- laser propelled aircrafts.
The project is structured to progress through the following milestones:
- M1 - System Requirements and First Measurement Session;
- M2 - System Design;
- M3 - Demonstrator Development;
- M4 - Demonstrator Integration;
- M5 - Field Testing.
The expected results of SKYSCANNER were:
- development of a demonstrator based on a rotating cylindrical laser range-finder array, capable of detecting and tracking aircraft up to at least six nautical miles from the ATZ barycentre;
- development of alpha release software for the computation of the aircraft collision probability and optimal decision on corrective actions (decision support system) based on data fusion between radar data and laser tracking data fusion, and ground-to-air laser communications;
- new generation ATM paradigm requirements specification based on data fusion between radar data and laser tracking data fusion, and ground-to-air laser communications.
The compliance of the above SKY Scanner technical objectives to the technical objectives of the 'Aeronautics' priority is demonstrated with reference to the following project output effects:
- development of an innovative technology useful to increase the traffic capacity of airports, by means of full laser control of ATZ volumes and the related aircraft movements in a new generation ATM paradigm perspective provided as an output of the project;
- development of a useful innovative technology to attain optimal operational performance of the aircraft-supporting infrastructure, seeking to reduce the number of transport fatalities.