Towards Real-time, On-board, Hardware-supported Sensor and Software Health Management for Unmanned Aerial Systems

Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) can only be deployed if they can effectively complete their missions and respond to failures and uncertain environmental conditions while maintaining safety with respect to other aircraft as well as humans and property on the ground. In this paper, we design a real-time, on-board system health management (SHM) capability to continuously monitor sensors, software, and hardware components for detection and diagnosis of failures and violations of safety or performance rules during the flight of a UAS. Our approach to SHM is three-pronged, providing: (1) real-time monitoring of sensor and/or software signals; (2) signal analysis, preprocessing, and advanced on-the-fly temporal and Bayesian probabilistic fault diagnosis; (3) an unobtrusive, lightweight, read-only, low-power realization using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) that avoids overburdening limited computing resources or costly re-certification of flight software due to instrumentation. Our implementation provides a novel approach of combining modular building blocks, integrating responsive run-time monitoring of temporal logic system safety requirements with model-based diagnosis and Bayesian network-based probabilistic analysis. We demonstrate this approach using actual data from the NASA Swift UAS, an experimental all-electric aircraft.