BAE Systems is planning to conduct an unmanned air vehicle sense and avoid trial over north-west England later this year, using a version of its Jetstream manned aircraft modified to test autonomous systems.
Jetstream flew for the first time on 1 May and in 4.5h flight time has so far tested autonomous steering.
"CAP 722 [the UK's UAV rules] presents a series of challenges, air traffic control and sense and avoid. The intruder trials are potentially this year," says Nick Colosimo, BAE's modified Jetstream programme manager. Another Jetstream may be used as an intruder.
The sense and avoid work is linked to the UK's three-year Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment programme.
US company Defense Research Associates is to conduct a sense and avoid demonstration using an intruder aircraft in August, which it claims will be a world first.
The BAE Jetstream, maintained by Cranfield Aerospace, is also being used for a range of UAV technology development tasks. Next year it will see trials for BAE's Mantis technology demonstrator's autonomous mission and sensor capabilities and improvised explosive device detection, which is a technology applicable to the company's Herti UAV.
From 2009 to 2012 Colosimo expects an airspace integration technology development role for the Jetstream. This will include voice communications between the UAV commander and ATC.