Merlin has announced a partnership with MIT Lincoln Laboratory (LL) in the first step towards an operational next generation collision avoidance technology.

This partnership will see the two organisations explore the commercial adoption of the Airborne Collision Avoidance System Xu (ACAS Xu) on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The partnership will focus on the initial integration and further implementation of the ACAS Xu software standard with the Merlin Pilot, allowing Merlin to deliver enhanced automated collision avoidance measures based on the outputs from ACAS Xu that exceed the standards of the National Airspace System.

Funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), MIT LL’s ACAS X is an onboard next generation airborne collision avoidance system designed to help pilots and unmanned aircraft safely navigate the airspace, eventually set to replace the current Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System II (TCAS).

The ACAS Xu version of the system is tailored for unmanned aircraft systems and is fully compatible with the new airspace procedures and technologies of the FAA’s next generation air transportation system.

By partnering with MIT LL to integrate the ACAS Xu software with the Merlin Pilot, progressive steps are being made toward integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System safely and scalably.

“Collision avoidance decision making systems are accepted by the FAA, and their outputs are critical to helping pilots and unmanned aircraft safely manoeuvre in the shared airspace. Integrating a next generation system like ACAS Xu with the Merlin Pilot enhances the safety of our system, while supporting the development of advanced automation capabilities to spur an autonomous future,” said Alex Naiman, Chief Technology Officer, Merlin.

“MIT LL researches and develops advanced technologies to meet critical national security needs. To that end, enhancing aviation safety is of the utmost importance, underscoring the importance of the ACAS X system in helping aircraft to better understand their surroundings and avoid collisions,” said Wesley Olson, Leader, Surveillance Systems Group, MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

“By partnering with an innovative technology leader like Merlin, we’re able to explore the commercial viability of ACAS Xu and improve the ways in which aircraft relate to their environments today and in the future.”
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