Dr. Danette Allen from NASA Langley Research Center’s Autonomy Incubator describes projects that will advance autonomous technology for unmanned aircraft.
Dr. Danette Allen is the NASA Senior Technologist for Intelligent Flight Control System and the Head of the Autonomy Incubator at NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC). She is responsible for setting the strategic vision, transforming the workforce, and building systems to realize the promise of autonomy and robotics in enabling new missions in space, aeronautics, and science. Dr. Allen provides subject matter expertise on several DoD autonomy programs including ONR AACUS, DARPA CODE, and DARPA ALIAS.
In this episode, Dr. Allen talks about the democratization of the airspace, and she explains the process by which NASA flies UAS at Langley, which is adjacent to active Air Force operations. Dr. Allen also describes an earth science delivery demonstration that is coming up. There, a payload sensor will be placed autonomously in a difficult-to-access location, where it can collect data. Later, the sensor is retrieved and returned to the scientist. Dr. Allen is also investigating an autonomous Mars explorer and the concept of “trusted autonomy.”
Prior to her current position, Dr. Allen served as the Research Team Lead for Human-System Integration (HSI) and ATM Concepts in Crew Systems and Aviation Operations. She also served as Mission Manager in the Earth Science Systems Pathfinder (ESSP) Program Office as well as Head of the Mission Simulation Lab (MiSL) and the Integrated Design Center.
Dr. Allen began her NASA career in the design, development and operation of spaceflight missions including Lidar In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE) on STS-64, Measurement of Air Pollution from Satellites (MAPS) on Mir, and Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III on ISS. Dr. Allen received her Bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University, MBA from Manchester University (UK), Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering from Old Dominion University, and her Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Computer Science from UNC Chapel Hill. She is the recipient of several NASA awards including the NASA astronauts’ “Silver Snoopy” award for achievements related to human flight safety and mission success as well as the NASA “Systems Engineering Excellence Award” medal.
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