Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016-07-13: Autonomy Incubator Welcomes UAV Pilot Jeff Hill For Outdoor Demo

Zak Johns trains Jeff Hill on Orange 3.

Today was another long, hot day outside for the PIs and interns at the Autonomy Incubator (Ai), but the excitement in the air is even thicker than the clouds of mosquitoes as we near our end-of-year demo. Today's advancement: a second UAV pilot, Jeff Hill, began flight training with Ai pilot Zak Johns. Jeff, a NASA UAV pilot, will be joining the demo team in a vital role.

"He'll be flying the vehicle that gets in the way of me. Well, not really me, the computer," Zak said. "The lidar will pick it up and tell [the computer] that it's in the way."

While Jeff is a seasoned RV pilot with NASA Langley, the Ai's vehicles are custom-built for our specific research mission and totally unique on-center, so getting flight time in before the demo is imperative. Every vehicle is different, and ours are larger than most of the UAVs other labs fly.

"These things are very agile and have a lot of power," Ai head Danette Allen said.

Here are Zak and Jeff putting OG3 through its paces (untethered!).

After landing the vehicle and retreating to the shade of the field trailer, Jeff remarked, "[The controls are] a little touchy, but we're doing well." If "touchy" means "agile" then we couldn't agree more!

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