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Latest News From Nova Systems

Media Release | Nova Systems Undertakes R&D of UAS UTM Technologies

Jun 24, 2019

Nova Systems, in close collaboration with OneSky, a business unit of Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI), currently leads a consortium that is undertaking research and development of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) technologies.

This is one of the projects awarded under the Call-for-Proposal by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), to develop systems and technologies to enable the innovative and wide-ranging use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Singapore’s densely populated urban environment.

The consortium recently completed the first of its planned suite of trials to be conducted over 2 years. The initial trial focused on assessing the suitability of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) telecommunications networks in Singapore, which is critical before commercial Urban UAS operations and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) can scale in a commercially viable manner. Nova Systems partners, Analytical Graphics Inc (AGI), Scout Aerial Media, M1 Limited, and Rohde and Schwarz all contributed to the planning and successful conduct of the trial activity.

Command and Non-Payload Communication (CNPC) is a critical function for UAS operations. To date, most UAS operations in civil airspace have been limited to Visual Line of Sight (VLOS), with Beyond VLOS generally only through exception. For most of these operations, direct Radio Frequency (RF) CNPC has been enough for the relatively simple operating environment. However, to truly scale the commercial potential of UAS technology, ubiquitous BVLOS operations must become a reality.

The most likely medium for supporting wide-scale BVLOS CNPC in Urban and Metropolitan areas is 4G and 5G telecommunication. Moreover, it is likely that the communication network may also underpin UTM surveillance services, and in the instances where networked Real-time kinematic (RTK), Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) is employed, also support navigation services. Accordingly, it is critical that the suitability of the 4G and 5G networks for supporting UAS operations, UTM and Urban Air Mobility is determined.

Several challenges exist that the Nova Systems consortium aim to resolve. First, extant telecommunication networks were not designed to optimise connectivity for vehicle traffic at altitude. Moreover, the prospect of co-channel interference from base-stations at greater distances expands significantly, disrupting design assumptions for handover algorithms which have been optimised over signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) assumptions at ground level. The degree of interference that airborne users will pose to the existing network client base also needs to be better understood.

Importantly, there is very little empirical evidence demonstrating performance for key aerospace communication metrics including latency, availability, continuity and integrity. Knowledge of these effects, in tandem with vehicle performance dynamics will be critical in establishing standards that will underpin separation requirements from buildings and other airborne platforms, and in turn, key UTM services such as route design, conformance monitoring, conflict detection and alerting, strategic deconfliction, alongside dynamic geofencing and rerouting.

Nova Systems and their partners have started to address these challenges, recently conducting a successful suite of trials in Singapore from 14th to 19th April. The trials were designed to examine these effects for the M1 network, with a short-term intent to map coverage in strategically selected regions that typically erode signal propagation in different ways. The long-term intent is to produce a comprehensive LTE coverage map for Singapore, but also produce predictive models that can be deployed in other cities.

In the next suite of trials, the consortium will explore the capabilities of a customised UTM prototype being developed by the AGI OneSky team and Nova Systems, with operations to include BVLOS flight and further expand our CNPC coverage and modelling efforts.

For further information on this project, or to discuss partnerships, please contact Dr Terry Martin, or on +61 423 256 214.

Nova Systems Consortium UTM Trails


Nova Systems

Nova Systems is a global technical consultancy and professional services firm, using systems engineering as the core discipline to solve technological problems and deliver world-class solutions to our clients.

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Media Release | Nova Systems Delivers New Courses to Support the Safety Certification of Military EO

Jun 19, 2019

Nova Systems is pleased to announce their new suite of courses to support the Safety Certification of Military Explosive Ordnance (EO).

Designed to support the Australian EO community, Nova Systems’ EO training capability encourages the development and on-going maintenance of current and future EO Certification engineers.

“We have always been committed to support the on-going development and professionalisation of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) EO Certification community” said Chief Executive Nova Systems ANZ Steven Robinson.

“Our new courses provide an introduction to EO for Defence Industry, and we anticipate these courses will evolve moving forward to create a training pathway for on-going professional development and maintenance of these key skillsets.”

With 10 courses on offer, the new suite of EO Certification courses will provide attendees with an understanding of the fundamental requirements for the Certification of ADF EO, as articulated in the ADF’s Explosive Ordnance Safety Program.

From courses on EO safety cases through to the fundamentals of EO Test and Evaluation, the courses cater to all professionals in Defence Industry and the ADF, including Project Managers, Engineering Managers, Logisticians and Certification Engineers.

Nova Systems’ team of highly skilled specialists combine their real-world experience and significant depth of expertise, to deliver the courses which are critical in ensuring the continued availability of military EO capability in support of current and future ADF operations.

Known for bringing the best training development practices to their customers, Nova Systems is a Registered Training Organisation (Nova Aerospace RTO code 40262) that can tailor their training solutions to meet their customer’s needs at a post graduate level or through delivering accredited training.

Nova Systems’ EO Certification courses are available nationally. Register now.

Nova Systems

Nova Systems is a an Australian owned and operated Global Professional Service Provider, specialising in the provision of technology enabling solutions and world class expertise to deliver complex capabilities and systems and solve technologically challenging problems. We solve the problems that really matter.

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Media Contact: Sarah de Valence

Position: Group Communications Manager

Telephone: 07 3129 2237


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Nova Systems Marks 19th Birthday by Supporting Camp Quality

May 23, 2019

Nova Systems is celebrating their 19th birthday!

In 2000, Nova Systems was founded in South Australia by Jim Whalley and Peter Nikoloff. Today, Nova Systems has over 550 employees across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, United Kingdom and Europe, all committed to solving the problems that really matter.

This year, to mark the occasion, Nova Systems is supporting Camp Quality by hosting a national fundraiser. Each office will be welcoming a Camp Quality representative and raising funds to help families impacted by cancer.

Camp Quality believes kids impacted by cancer should have every opportunity to thrive, a sentiment deeply felt by Nova Systems who is committed to striving to create a better future for their people, their families and the community.

Providing a range of innovative programs and services, Camp Quality aims to develop life skills and strengthen the wellbeing of children ages 0 – 13 growing up with cancer, and their families.

Nova Systems is proud to support the highly reputable and long-standing Australian charity, committed to supporting the community.

Many Nova Systems employees regularly volunteer their time and efforts to Camp Quality programs and to spreading smiles far and wide in support of their motto ‘laughter is the best medicine’.

Want to donate?

Camp Quality 

We believe kids impacted by cancer should have every opportunity to thrive.

At every stage of the cancer experience, we provide innovative programs and services to develop life skills and strengthen the wellbeing of children aged 0 -13 growing up with cancer, and their families.

Nova Systems

Nova Systems is a an Australian owned and operated Global Professional Service Provider, specialising in the provision of technology enabling solutions and world class expertise to deliver complex capabilities and systems and solve technologically challenging problems. We solve the problems that really matter.

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AI and machine learning are helping engineers take drone delivery to the next step

May 16, 2019

A while ago, Dr Terry Martin predicted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were on the cusp of some very interesting developments, and a good match for his background in both aerospace and machine learning.

For Dr Terry Martin, Applied Research Lead at Nova Systems, UAVs were an attractive place to focus his efforts. They are, essentially, remote sensing platforms, and what they can do is growing rapidly.

“The futuristic vision is to extend that capability into so much more, where the data captured by the platform is turned into information and knowledge that supports decision-making and is distributed effectively,” Martin told create.

“And that’s a field of endeavour where I hoped to deploy my hybrid skills and experience. And that’s proven to be the case.”

He sees AI as something that will become more relevant as systems move from “human-in-the-loop” to “human-on-the-loop”, with machine learning, pattern recognition and image processing technologies seamlessly sorting and annotating what’s collected to support decision-making.

“That’s coming: it’s just the timeframe for how long it’ll take,” he said.

Martin is not alone in his interest in drones and is working at the frontier of a booming technology area that could radically reshape our lives over the next decade.

According to research firm Markets and Markets, the UAV sector’s value is growing at around 20 per cent annually and will be worth US$52.3 billion by 2025.

Porsche Consulting said it’s reasonable to expect one class of UAV within the next decade: passenger drones. The same firm estimates that market will be worth US$1 billion by 2025, then grow over 20 times that amount within a decade.

A massive challenge

As spectacular as a future of flying cars might seem, life-or-death drone missions – for example of emergency medicine or blood, search and rescue efforts, or a flight to thwart a terrorist – would also change life as we know it.

Before any of this happens, a massive degree of coordination is needed. Operators, telcos, regulators, data service providers and others must work together, establish standards and overcome numerous sets of challenges.

A key enabler for wide-scale and safe deployment of UAV and urban air mobility (UAM) is UTM, or UAV traffic management. This is one of Martin’s areas of expertise.

UTM incorporates a suite of services and safety critical functions that ensure drones can move around without inflicting harm or damage to themselves, people in the air or on the ground, and critical infrastructure.

UTM is “based primarily on the sharing of information between operators on flight intent and airspace constraints”, explained the Federal Aviation Administration Concept of Operations, and “can offer services for flight planning, communications, separation and weather, among others”.

Part of any discussion around adoption is acceptable levels of risk. How robust can a safety chain be made for a vehicle that is nowhere near the price point of a Boeing 787? And, given that it’s not carrying over 200 people, how robust does it need to be?

“We set specifications for large commercial aircraft that are extremely exacting, and if one of those hits the ground, the consequences are often severe,” Martin said.

“But a two or a five kilo UAV with no-one on board … there’s probably some latitude to commensurately scale the rigour of those standards. But by how much? That all comes back to societal acceptance of risk, because there are different thresholds for different applications.”

Risk assessment is part of Martin’s side-gig leading quantitative methods at JARUS (Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems, a global effort to harmonise technical, safety and operational requirements for remotely piloted aircraft).

“There’s a bunch of different things where it’s, ‘All right, now the safety determinations need to be risk-based rather than the historically prescriptive mechanism that has been applied in the past’,” Martin said.

“Unfortunately, that’s where it all starts to get very boring for many of the participants in the high-tech community.”

Martin added that the shortfalls in safety regulation had historically been a road block for progress, and failing to acknowledge the delays this introduces can kill a startup’s cash flow and aspirations.

JARUS is one of several professional hats Martin wears in conjunction with his role as the Applied Research lead at Nova Systems. This includes adjunct Professorships at Queensland University of Technology and University of South Australia, and being the Australian representative for NATO Applied Vehicle Technology Panel 278.

It’s a varied career that began with an RAAF apprenticeship at 16 and has included pilot training, a PhD in machine learning in speech-enabled applications (sponsored by the Chief of Army), a military fellowship at the Defence Science Training Organisation and time at NASA’s Ames Research Center as an invited researcher.

Singapore project

Work at Nova has earned Martin a place on the 2018 list of Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers. He is currently the Project Director for a Nova-led consortium in Singapore, overseeing a world-leading traffic management project, handling the safe delivery of people and packages and other UAV applications.

In May 2017, Nova managed a comprehensive test and evaluation for UTM and BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) UAV flight for Queensland local government. The experience they gained during that time enabled them to successfully respond to a Singaporean government’s call for proposal, with the project subsequently commencing in October 2018.

Partners include AGI Onesky, Scout Aerial, M1 (a local telco), with support from Intel and Amazon. Importantly, the project has created a suite of jobs for both Australians and Singaporeans, with Martin highlighting that Nova and their partners have employed “some seriously bright young engineers” to support the project, such as Zi Huang and Jaya Sudarpa from Nova, and Pelwinderpal Singh at AGI.

Martin said the project intent is to extend AGI’s UTM prototype, featured at the 2018 Singapore Airshow, and expand its functionality with a mix of Nova products and know-how so that it is operationally deployable in the Singaporean urban environment.

But there are numerous challenges to overcome in operating UAVs in a metropolitan area like Singapore. One notable example is the effects of urban canyoning, where communication and navigation signals are interrupted by buildings and infrastructure.

“This environment can seriously degrade the GPS accuracy alongside the UAV command and communication (C2), in a variety of ways,” he said.

Compounding this is weather effects that can be highly variable in these canyons, particularly in tropical settings, and this can seriously degrade track keeping. Other unknowns include: “What’s your comms latency for the LTE or 4, or 5G network, in comparison to the manned environment? And under what conditions does network performance start to degrade to a point that it’s unacceptable?” And ultimately, “How far apart should you space UAVs from each other, buildings and one day, UAMs?”

Answering these questions motivates part of the modelling effort.

“We take telcos’ descriptions for describing signal properties and network latency in performance and map it to aviator speak,” Martin said.

“With that knowledge of the communication, navigation and surveillance capabilities inherent to both the UTM and the variety of vehicles that will fly within it, it’s then possible to design feasible routing that balances safety, traffic demands and efficiency expectations for supply chains.”

It is part of a multi-faceted, two-year set of trials, which could later incorporate urban air mobility (UAM) or personal air vehicles (PAVs).

“Essentially, a UTM can cater for two types of lift and shift: people and packages,” Martin said.

Exact dates are not set, but the project will conclude in mid-2020 with a multi-UAV hub and spoke delivery situation with BVLOS flights.

“Flown over people with deliveries, with Amazon injecting synthetic entities to test both the internal traffic management of our USS [UAV service supplier], but also the USS to USS interface as well,” Martin said.

“The idea is to validate the robustness of our traffic management system, particularly its ability to optimise demand and to safely deal with a variety of contingencies.”

Chicken and egg

Both the technical and the standardisation challenges are vast when it comes to the adoption of UAVs.

Martin describes it as “the industry doesn’t know what to build and the regulator doesn’t yet know what to specify … a lack of detail in the spec and an inability to know what to build.”

Martin and other professionals working in Australia have spoken highly of CASA’s collaboration with industry to address this circular problem.

For those on the industry side, he added, “My personal view is that the best way to deal with conditions of uncertainty is to experiment in a controlled manner.”

Brent Balinski


View original article here.

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