Researchers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center have patented a guidance and control method that allows unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to detect and exploit buoyant plumes of air called thermals. Detecting and soaring in thermals enables UAVs to optimize flight performance, increase speed, extend flight duration and range, and reduce energy consumption. Although piloted gliders and low-powered aircraft have systems to detect thermals, Dryden’s guidance and control system is the first ever to be used by UAVs.
Dryden has one patent issued (U.S. Patent No: 7,431,243→ ) for this technology.
This technology is part of NASA’s technology transfer program. The program seeks to stimulate development of commercial uses of NASA-developed technologies. NASA is flexible in its agreements, and opportunities exist for licensing and joint development. Dryden is interested in a partnership to commercialize this technology.
If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA’s technology transfer program, please contact:Julie Holland