Towards Autonomy and Safety for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

  • Christoph TorensEmail author
  • Johann C. Dauer
  • Florian Adolf


This chapter describes unmanned aircraft with respect to autonomy and safety aspects of aerospace. The focus will be on unmanned aircraft systems, however most of the principles regarding safety and automation are valid for both, manned and unmanned aviation. As a means to assure safety for aircraft, safety assessments, development processes, and software standards have been established for manned aviation. In this context, design-time assurance of software will be discussed. Another key component of the safety concept for manned aviation is the onboard pilot. The pilot supervises and validates the system behavior and develops a gut feeling if the system is okay, due to his onboard presence. This is not possible for an unmanned aircraft. Human supervision will be remotely located. Therefore, an extensive discussion on runtime assurance and automated supervision will be a part of this work. Furthermore, with the growing degrees of automation and upcoming autonomy of the aircraft, one pilot might have to supervise more than one aircraft at the same time. Unmanned aircraft are expected to be integrated into civil airspace in the near future, possibly in very large quantities. The autonomy of these unmanned aircraft and the absence of a pilot onboard the aircraft is a source of concern. However, the automation and autonomy can also support safety. The interdependence between safety and autonomy will be discussed in this chapter. The challenge regarding unmanned aircraft is that the same level of safety can be maintained. In this context, this chapter will discuss the impact of new and upcoming regulations and standards for unmanned aircraft regarding a holistic approach to the assessment of risk and their impact on autonomy and safety.


  1. 1.
    ICAO. Cir 328 AN/190 unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Technical report, ICAO (2011)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    EASA. Concept of operation for Drones: a risk based approach to regulation of unmanned aircraft. European Aviation Safety Agency (2015)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    EASA. Introduction of a regulatory framework for the operation of unmanned aircraft, technical opinion. European Aviation Safety Agency (2015)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    EASA. Introduction of a regulatory framework for the operation of Drones, notice of proposed amendment, NPA 2017-5. European Aviation Safety Agency (2017)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    H.-M. Huang, E. Messina, J. Albus, Autonomy levels for unmanned systems (ALFUS) framework - volume II: framework models version 1.0. Technical report, NIST special publication 1011-II-1.0. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (2007)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    H.-M. Huang, Autonomy levels for unmanned systems (ALFUS) framework - volume I: terminology. Technical report, NIST special publication 1011-I-2.0. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (2008)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    F. Kendoul, Survey of advances in guidance, navigation, and control of unmanned rotorcraft systems. J. Field Robot. 29(2), 315–378 (2012). ISSN: 1556-4967
  8. 8.
    F. Kendoul, Towards a unified framework for UAS autonomy and technology readiness assessment (ATRA), in Autonomous Control Systems and Vehicles, ed. by K. Nonami, M. Kartidjo, K.-J. Yoon, A. Budiyono. Intelligent Systems, Control and Automation: Science and Engineering, vol. 65 (Springer, Japan, 2013), pp. 55–71. ISBN: 978-4-431-54275-9
  9. 9.
    C. Torens, F.-M. Adolf, Fail-safe systems from a UAS guidance perspective, Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering (Wiley, New York, 2010). ISBN: 9780470686652
  10. 10.
    C. Torens, F. Adolf, P. Faymonville, S. Schirmer, Towards intelligent system health management using runtime monitoring, in AIAA Information Systems-AIAA Infotech @ Aerospace (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), 2017).
  11. 11.
    N.G. Leveson, Safeware: System Safety and Computers (ACM, New York, 1995)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    RTCA/EUROCAE. ED-12C/DO-178C software considerations in airborne systems and equipment certification. Technical report, EUROCAE (2012)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    RTCA/EUROCAE. DO-333/ED-216 formal methods supplement to DO-178C and DO-278A. Technical report, EUROCAE (2012)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    A. C. F. on Unmanned Aircraft Systems. F3201 - 16 standard practice for ensuring dependability of software used in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). ASTM Subcommittee F38.01 on Airworthiness (2016)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    A. C. F38. Designation: F3269 - 17 standard practice for methods to safely bound flight behavior of unmanned aircraft systems containing complex functions. ASTM Subcommittee F38.01 on Airworthiness (2017)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    JARUS. Guidelines on specific operations risk assessment (SORA). Technical report, Joint Authorities for Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (2017)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    J.C. Dauer, S. Lorenz, J.S. Dittrich, Automated low altitude air delivery, Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress (Braunschweig, Germany, 2016), pp. 1–8Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Y. Hasan, F. Sachs, J.C. Dauer, Preliminary design study for a future unmanned cargo aircraft configuration, Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress (Braunschweig, Germany, 2016)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    N. Peinecke, A. Volkert, B. Korn, Minimum risk low altitude airspace integration for larger cargo UAS, in Integrated Communications Navigation and Surveillance Conference (ICNS 2017) (IEEE Press, 2017)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    P. Kopardekar, J. Rios, T. Prevot, M. Johnson, J. Jung, J. Robinson, Unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) concept of operations, in 16th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations Conference. AIAA 2016-3292, Washington DC (2016)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    E. Dill, S. Young, K. Hayhurst, Safeguard - an assured safety net technology for UAS, in 35th Digital Avionics Systems conference (DASC), Sacramento, CA (2016)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    C. Torens, F. Nikodem, J.C. Dauer, J.S. Dittrich, Onboard functional requirements for specific category UAS and safe operation monitoring, in 6th CEAS Conference. CEAS, Burcharest, Romania (2017)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    S. International. ARP4754A - Guidelines for development of civil aircraft and systems (2010)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Torens
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johann C. Dauer
    • 1
  • Florian Adolf
    • 1
  1. 1.German Aerospace Center (DLR)BraunschweigGermany

Personalised recommendations