UAS Positioning Project

A 2017-18 JCATI funded project led by Dr. Christopher Lum at the University of Washington successfully tested a novel navigation system for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). The Transponder-based Positioning Information System, or TRAPIS, allows aircraft to navigate in the absence of clear GPS signals. The aim of the JCATI TRAPIS project was to provide a backup system to circumvent current drone technology’s heavy reliance on GPS.

This project was conducted with industry partners Advanced Navigation and Positioning Corporation (ANPC), Hood Technologies, Sagetech and Insitu.

TRAPIS relies on an Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) transponder and the Local Area Multilateration System, or LAMS, a ground-based antenna system operated by industry partner ANPC. The LAMS was used to triangulate the origin of signals emitted from an ADS-B transponder mounted on a UAS. TRAPIS then sends estimates of the drone’s position back to the drone itself, which can then use this position information to navigate.

A team of student researchers from the Autonomous Flight Systems Lab (AFSL) tested the system at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport in June. The test consisted of the aircraft navigating through a grid pattern using TRAPIS position estimates. This flight test is the culmination of a year-long effort involving software development, hardware integration and extensive flight testing at AFSL’s Carnation Farms facility. For more information on this project, view the project's YouTube video.