Up Close and Personal – Meeting the NAVYA Driverless Shuttle

On 17/04/2015, in The future is now, by steve

navyaHaving written about the NAVYA driverless shuttle I was of course very keen to meet the beast in person and to try her out in a real, down to Earth environment. Last Wednesday it was so far…

In fact the NAVYA we got to see was a first generation prototype but if this version is anything to go by, V2, due out in the fall of 2015, will be a smash hit worthy of consideration by even the most demanding user.

Before we launch into Wednesday’s adventure, let’s just recap what we are talking about here. NAVYA Technology, a French start-up located in Lyon, has put together an all-electric vehicle which is capable of navigating along a predetermined track with stops also pre-programmed, doing this all without a driver on board. What is more, the shuttle operates on existing roads or inside existing corridors of buildings without any kind of new infrastructure being needed. No driver, no expensive new infrastructure and you can see why it is easy to make the business case for a fleet of NAVYAs…

It is interesting to draw the parallels between automation as we know it on aircraft and the automation needed to make NAVYA work. While aircraft demand a very high degree of reliability, they do work in what I would call a friendly environment. Take the case of an automatic approach to land. Other aircraft are kept away by air traffic control, the descent angle is such that the aircraft is kept at a safe vertical distance from ground obstacles and the aim is to make the wheels touch down in a predetermined zone of a runway that is typically 60 meters wide and in excess of 3000 meters long. The automation “knows” how to fly and where it needs to go and that is about it.
Now take the NAVYA shuttle. The desired reliability is still very high but of course she can always stop if something goes wrong. But until then she is operating in a definitely hostile environment. There are other vehicles that move around in the same space our shuttle also calls her own, there may be obstacles on the roadway that need to be bypassed, pedestrians will turn up unexpectedly and when she has to stop, she must stop with centimeter precision…

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Driverless vehicle demo in Lyon on 8 and 21 April 2015

On 21/03/2015, in The future is now, by steve

repriseNAVYA Technology will be hosting a demo of their driverless vehicle on 8 and 21 April at their test facility in Lyon, France. You can read more about the NAVYA shuttle here.

BluSky Services has been invited to attend the demo on 8 April and we will be more than happy to be present there and experience the driverless vehicle fist hand.

I am sure many of our readers will have read about the experiments being conducted by the likes of Google and others with driverless cars… It all sounds futuristic and possibly even far away in the future.

NAVYA Technology is a French startup with a dynamic and future oriented crew whose motto seems to be: we can do it! And they can indeed.
The NAVYA shuttle is perfectly capable of operating on public roads, recognizing road signs and traffic lights, avoiding obstacles and tirelessly plodding along the route it was told to follow. All this is done without any additional infrastructure. NAVYA knows the score without the need for wires or other expensive stuff on the road. Being all electric, the vehicle is also squeaky clean.

Airports are of course prime areas of operation for driverless vehicles. Repetitive routes, high frequency and perfect safety is what one needs there and NAVYA delivers. For the time being the targets are land-side and in-terminal operations but we see no reason why one day intelligent vehicles should not be a common sight around aircraft too.

The business case for operating the NAVYA type vehicles is compelling, regardless of the environment concerned. The fact that the vehicles do not need a driver in itself ensures cost savings that start generating a tidy return on investment in a very short time.

We will bring you a full report about the demo. But why not come and join is? There is still time to register. Send an email to Viktoria Fontanel if you would like to attend the demo on either 8 or 21 April or if you would like to have more information about the cute little NAVYA shuttle.


Aircraft are no longer the most intelligent vehicles on an airport – Here comes NAVYA!

On 19/02/2015, in The future is now, by steve

When we say “airport” the picture that most easily comes into one’s mind is of aircraft moving around or waiting parked at the gate. A poor second is the masses of people milling around in the terminal, part of the organized chaos designed to ensure that in the end each and every one of them ends up in his or her assigned seat aboard the aircraft bound for his or her destination.


Looking more closely one will of course notice that there are lots of vehicles of various sizes also moving about, both in- and outside the terminal and also on the aprons where aircraft are being turned around for their next flight. They move people, bags, catering, supplies and what have you. Inside the terminal smaller trolleys transport disabled passengers. What they all have in common is that the average trip length is rather limited and that the trips they make are repetitive. Just think of the hotel and car rental shuttles. Drive along all the terminals, plod over to the rental company lot and then start the whole thing again.

The bigger vehicles are usually equipped with radios and their drivers are in contact with the respective dispatchers. But when there is suddenly a peak in demand and an extra bus for the car rental folks would be really nice, it us usually not available because even if there is a reserve bus somewhere, there is probably no spare driver to take it into the fray.

The small electric trolleys used inside the terminal are even more of a problem. Most of the time they are parked not where they are needed and when they are needed, someone has to walk over to them and take them on a long trek to an arrival gate and then drive back again to the parking area, never mind that in 10 minutes it will be needed at the same far away gate once again.

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Radars… the end is near. Hopefully.

On 12/09/2012, in The future is now, by steve

If you are a bird flying over Europe, finding yourself slowly being roasted by radars is not something unexpected. In an effort to achieve radar coverage that is at least double and in view of the fragmented nature of the air traffic management system, this effort has resulted in triple+ coverage in some places. This might be a heart-warming feeling for air traffic controllers and radar manufacturers but for the users of the ATM system, it is more of an expensive overkill than a good thing per se.

Luckily, the time of those expensive, clunky and not too accurate surveillance tools is coming to an end. The replacement? ADS-B.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast is a technology that has been with us for some time now and with the required standards in place, adoption is underway. ADS-B equipped aircraft broadcast their GPS (or other GNSS) derived position and certain other information about once a second. The broadcast information is then received by antennas on the ground and forwarded to air traffic control centers and other users. The data is processed into moving position symbols and labels that look just like traditional radar displays. An important difference is the rate of update. Currently only ground control radars work with such short update cycles, terminal and en-route radars typically provide a 10 second or more update period. Displays being fed by ADS-B data exhibit smooth movement and of course accurate and current information.

Building an ADS-B system, comprising the ground receivers, network and the equipment on board the aircraft is typically cheaper then creating the equivalent surveillance capability with conventional radars. ADS-B offers the added advantage of being deployable in circumstances where radars could never be placed. The antennas are modest in size and fit easily on existing structures, like oil drilling platforms for instance. This characteristic brings surveillance and the associated lower separation minima to areas not previously covered by radar.

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UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) to the rescue… or not?

On 12/02/2012, in The future is now, by steve

We have been reading about UAS’s for some time. Stories abound on how they have been used successfully to catch bad guys on the battlefield or in the course of police and border patrol interdiction operations. It was fun reading about them not least because of the comfortable feeling: they are here, sure, but not in our backyard.

Well, this is changing now and the civil liberties advocates in the US are up in arms. So what gives?

Last Monday the US Senate passed a measure requiring the FAA to give UASs extended access to civil airspace by 30 September 2015. Until now the FAA was reluctant to open the floodgates for UASs, mainly because of concerns that the sense and avoid capabilities of these unmanned aircraft were not yet mature enough to operate safely in shared airspace. They will now have to figure out how to do this anyway… You can bet that the 2015 date will not be met or if it is, it will be a fluke. No radical new system, however simple, had ever been introduced into the airspace system with a three year deadline.

But it now looks like the technical hurdles may in fact be the least of the FAA’s worries and if there is a delay, it will come from the activities of the civil liberties advocates who are diametrically opposed to allowing UASs into our backyards.

Click here to read the full article


Aviation Transformed – a Free White Paper about Data-Driven Technology

On 03/02/2012, in The future is now, by steve

Charts have evolved. Data-driven technology is changing the way pilots navigate safely to their destinations and leading to new opportunities for operational efficiency.

Download the free Jeppesen white paper, “Aviation Transformed,” to learn about:

– The evolution of aeronautical charts from paper to digital
– Challenges of paper charts solved by advanced alternatives
– Features and benefits of Mobile FliteDeck, the industry’s first interactive mobile enroute flight application
– Tips for implementing tablets equipped with the mobile app

Ease of use, reliability and a streamlined flight process come together in the paperless solution Mobile FliteDeck. Understand its possible impact on your business, and get a glimpse of what’s next for the technology.

This white paper was made available originally via the Aviation Week Knowledge Center. Click here to find other interesting stuff at Aviation Week.


An Opportunity We Should not Miss!

On 20/01/2012, in The future is now, by steve

I was talking to an old time, well respected colleague the other day discussing his view that instead of forcing the industry to implement yet another expensive capability, full use should be made of what was already there… Once the benefits start to accrue, airspace users would be much more inclined to take the extra steps and accept the costs associated with the extra functionality (assuming of course that there was a business case for it). This discussion was in the context of basic PBN and the addition or not of things like Constant Radius Turns in en-route airspace.

Although I have always preferred a more all-out approach, his pragmatic views make perfect sense and is also something airline bean-counters are likely to accept more readily. Investing in speculative functionality when the existing stuff sits idle most of the time is difficult to justify. Of course focusing mainly on use-what-is-already-there-first will not speed up progress but will make the simpler things happen with a higher degree of probability. Aim for too much, and nothing happens. I hate to admit it, but he is right…

Having given credit where credit is due, my incorrigible drive for wanting the whole thing kept chewing my soul. There was something here that we could turn to our advantage. But what was it exactly?

Then I remembered… The thousands of A320NEOs and Boeing 737MAXs. Airlines have ordered these more fuel efficient versions of the old favorites to basically replace a large part of their fleets almost overnight. Now if only those new babies could come with all kinds of goodies fitted right from the start…

What are we talking about? From an air traffic management perspective, there are three items that I would have on my wish list: air/ground digital link and CPDLC, ADS-B in and out and a full set of PBN capabilities.

I can almost hear opponents shouting: with those new versions not due for another three years or so, what technology should the manufacturers use for ADS-B for instance? Stay with Mode S Extended Squitter or go for something else? But what? Would it not be better to wait until the technology debate settles? We have of course heard this in the past. Waiting is equivalent to doing nothing and missing the boat. We have also seen that in the past… and suffer the consequences in the present day.

No Sire, this time we should be smarter.

Click here to read the full article


Direct Routes and Wind Updates – Boeing Tools to Improve Flight Efficiency

On 12/12/2011, in The future is now, by steve

For air traffic controllers, giving a “direct” to a flight is a good feeling. They have, after all, probably shortened the track to be flown and this saves fuel. A good thing, right? Well, yes and no.

In the legacy environment where aircraft are made to fly routes that are usually much longer than they need to be, a direct is almost always a welcome intervention. In the upcoming SESAR and NextGen 4D trajectory environment, a direct might be seen as a distortion of the carefully crafted business trajectory. The aircraft arrives early, impacting other trajectories and upsetting the balance that had been worked out to provide maximum efficiency.

Of course the SESAR/NextGen 4D environment is some way off and in the meantime Boeing is providing two new tools that go a long way towards optimizing the way aircraft fly. The beauty of it all is that these tools do not require extra hardware on the aircraft using them. Any reasonably modern aircraft can play.

So, what is Direct Route?

This is an application that is managed by Boeing InFlight Optimization Services and which is able to figure out how to optimize the trajectory of individual flights.

Click here to read the full article


Amsterdam’s SARA – an important step towards the future

On 16/05/2011, in The future is now, by steve

If you read the current SESAR documentation, you cannot fail to notice one of the more serious misunderstandings that still prevail in the project. In SESAR terminology, ATM progress goes from time-based operations to trajectory based operations (TBO) and then to performance based operations. This reveals the, oft bemoaned, confusion between TBO and performance based operations. Under PBO we will still be using the TBO paradigm… But never mind, that will be the subject of another article.

This time round I would like to introduce to you a new development, a true time-based operations gem that goes under the name SARA (Speed and Route Advisor) and which will be implemented in the Amsterdam FIR starting in 2012 with the functionality expanding stepwise in the following period.

So what is SARA and what does it do?

One of the big capacity guzzler in busy TMAs is the unpredictability and instability of the arriving stream of aircraft. The numerous conflicts require constant radar vectors and radio traffic, resulting in high workload for both pilots and controllers as well as often inefficient trajectories. Developing an effective arrival management system is a real challenge.

The objective of SARA is to give advice on speed and/or routing to (Upper) Area Controllers in order to achieve the planned arrival time(s) of the aircraft over fixes (and implicitly via the Inbound Planning (IBP) function over the runway threshold).

Click here to read the full article


Tasmania Airspace Now Controlled With High Accuracy Sensis WAM

On 10/11/2010, in The future is now, by steve

First Multilateration System in Australia to Separate Aircraft in both En Route and Terminal Airspace

Sensis Corporation’s Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) system over Tasmania, Australia has passed its safety case by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and is now operational. The system uses both multilateration and Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) to provide Airservices Australia with enhanced en route surveillance of air traffic across the island and down to the surface at Hobart and Launceston Airports. Sensis WAM’s precise surveillance of aircraft enables air traffic controllers to implement five nautical miles of aircraft separation for safer, more efficient use of the airspace in a region that was previously controlled with procedural separation standards.

“Sensis wide area multilateration was the most cost-effective solution for surveillance over Tasmania today and also supports our commitment to using ADS-B in the future,” Airservices General Manager, Technology and Asset Services, Alastair Hodgson said. “This multimode approach is critical to ensuring safety and airspace efficiency while ADS-B equipage grows.”

Sensis WAM uses multiple low-maintenance, non-rotating sensors to triangulate aircraft location based on transponder signals and to provide air traffic controllers with precise aircraft position and identification information, regardless of weather conditions. With a higher update rate and greater positional accuracy than traditional radar, Sensis WAM provides effective surveillance for increased safety, capacity and efficiency of airspace and airports. With its advanced processing techniques, a Sensis multilateration system uses the minimal number of sensors for a less complex, lower lifecycle cost solution.

The Sensis WAM system provides seamless cooperative surveillance coverage between Launceston and Hobart Airports, with accurate coverage of 150 meters or better from the ground level at the airports to 18,000 feet. Surveillance data is sent to the Melbourne Air Traffic Control Center where it will provide controllers with information to implement five nautical miles of separation in an environment that had largely been controlled with procedural separation measures.

“With Sensis WAM, Air Navigation Service Providers can deploy a cost-effective, highly-accurate system that is compatible with current and future surveillance technologies and is an ideal complement to ADS-B,” said John Jarrell, vice president and general manager of Sensis Air Traffic Systems. “The technology is also enabling ANSPs to significantly enhance the efficiency of airspace by reducing separation standards.”

Sensis is providing WAM solutions to leading ANSPs and militaries around the world, addressing terminal and en route surveillance, precision runway monitoring and special use airspace applications.


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