Virtual Sky: Morphable Geo-Spatial Computing for the Internet of Planes

Project Summary (NSF Award 1816307)

In the near future, a majority of aircraft will be equipped with sophisticated technology to sense flight conditions and to directly communicate with nearby aircraft. By sharing information, each plane can provide mission critical information to its pilot beyond what can be perceived by a single aircraft. An example is warning of dangerous weather conditions just outside of an aircraft’s sensing range. This project will create a Virtual Sky platform that enables the network of planes, called the Internet of Planes (IoP), to fuse and analyze sensed data correctly, reliably, and quickly, to support safer and more efficient air travel.

The project is divided into two thrusts. The first is to create distributed algorithms for planes to learn a consistent, accurate estimate of flight conditions. Contributions will include analysis of the correctness and performance of the algorithms and a study of their theoretical limits in global-scale dynamic networks like the IoP. The second research thrust is the development and evaluation of a large-scale prototype of the Virtual Sky that uses real-time aircraft and weather data. The prototype also integrates a flight simulator, which will be used to study the benefits of the application with a human pilot in the loop.