At the end of this month, the SATMET project – Situation Awareness and Traffic Management for Engineless Taxiing – will come to a close.
The 30-month long R&I project was funded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology and led by Dr Ing. Jason Gauci from the Institute of Aerospace Technologies (IAT) at the University of Malta. The project was a joint collaboration between IAT and HandsOn Systems Ltd. The national Air Navigation Service Provider – Malta Air Traffic Services Ltd. – was also consulted during the project.
As its name implies, SATMET developed solutions for engineless taxiing, with the main objective of improving the efficiency and safety of aircraft ground operations. More specifically, SATMET focused on engineless taxiing through the use of autonomous tow trucks and developed four key enabling technologies:
(a) Algorithms to allocate tow trucks to arriving and departing aircraft and to find optimal taxi routes;
(b) Algorithms which are able to fuse the 3D information provided by LIDAR and stereovision sensors in order to detect and track obstacles (including vehicles and stationary objects) around aircraft and tow trucks;
(c) Image processing algorithms to detect and track taxiway line markings, and to assess the position of aircraft and tow trucks relative to the centre of a taxiway;
(d) A Graphical User Interface that can be used by air traffic controllers to monitor the state of each aircraft and tow truck and to interact with the system (e.g. to modify taxi routes) if necessary.
The project outcomes have been published in a number of conference and journal papers and presented at various aerospace-related conferences. Furthermore, a US patent has been submitted in order to protect a number of innovative aspects of the project. A dissemination event – to formally close the SATMET project – will be held at ESPLORA later on this year. Further information about this event will be published in due course.
A video of the project’s objectives and outcomes can be viewed here.
SATMET (R&I-2016-033V) is financed by the Malta Council for Science & Technology, for and on behalf of the Foundation for Science and Technology, through the FUSION: R&I Technology Development Programme.