Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Adjust Font Size: Normal Large X-Large

AEM spotlight:

Research set to update unmanned vehicles sector

Demoz Gebre-Egziabher

McKnight Land-Grant Professor Gebre-
Egziabher is exploring ways to implement
next-generation JPALS into unmanned
vehicle technology.

A grant recently awarded by the Lockheed Martin Corporation holds the promise of a new development in the world of unmanned flight.

The grant-funded research, led by Demoz Gebre-Egziabher, a McKnight Land-Grant Professor in AEM, will explore ways to dynamically increase precision and accuracy in aircraft landing systems.

By using the military’s next-generation navigation and guidance technology, known as the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, the research will explore methods of increasing the effectiveness of navigations systems that are used on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

JPALS is being developed by the U.S. Department of Defense as a replacement for older aircraft navigation and guidance systems currently used by the military. It is expected to provide an unprecedented level of accuracy and flexibility for navigation and guidance of aircraft.

The research conducted by the University will also explore how to use specially-equipped vehicles as mobile data sources, broadcasting information that would enhance navigation and guidance performance of JPALS-equipped vehicles.

While JPALS technology is first and foremost a military program, research in this area could have a great effect in coming years, namely in the area of commercial flight.

"This could have broad implications for future global positioning system-based navigation and precision landing systems that will be used in civilian aviation applications," Gebre-Egziabher said. "Many of the challenges that have to be addressed by JPALS will be the same, if not more challenging, than ones that have to be addressed by civilian systems."

Lockheed Martin’s $50,000 grant is one of several that have supported and kept the University at the forefront of JPALS-related research. Lockheed Martin selected the University based on "technical merit" and further research in future autonomous airborne systems.


Image Credit: Lockheed Martin Corporation
Products derived from Gebgre-Egziabher's research could be mounted to UAVs, like Lockheed Martin's SkySpirit.

"Lockheed Martin is excited to be working with the University of Minnesota in the discovery of advanced technologies that will provide innovative solutions to further the development of future unmanned systems," said Rick Udicious, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Eagan, MN-based Tactical Systems business.

In addition to novel applications in flight, Gebre-Egziabher’s research is one in a new direction for aerospace engineering and mechanics.

While classical research in aerospace engineering has dealt with the physics of complicated single systems, new research is trending more and more toward integrating various sources of information from complex systems, according to Gary Balas, Department Head of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics.

"Research is becoming more about information and the role information plays in both the design and safety of complex systems," he said. "It is using information in a more intelligent way and blending information that is available from multiple sources to get a better perspective of the situation and the environment one is in."

Last Modified: Wednesday, 22-Aug-2012 10:49:08 CDT -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation