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TACE lays down foundation for future UAV test safety

  • Published
  • By Giancarlo Casem
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

The 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force conducted an autonomous test flight at Edwards Air Force Base, California, July 25. The flight’s mission was to test a software suite designed to make unmanned aerial vehicle flight safer.


“What we have here today is a sub-scaled jet-powered aircraft; it’s about 12 feet long and do about 250 knots,” said Jeff Jessen, Chief Engineer, Emerging Technology Combined Test Force. “Our goal is to verify an autonomy safety net that was developed by John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, called TACE, Testing Autonomy in a Complex Environment."


The TACE test is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Skyborg program. The Skyborg program is a developing software tool that allows engineers and researchers to develop autonomous capabilities. AFRL plans to have Skyborg as an Early Operational Capability as early as 2023. To help meet that requirement, engineers are testing autonomous elements like TACE to provide safety foundations for future tests.


The TACE safety net programming sits between a vehicle’s safety critical control system and its mission system. Proven algorithms keep the plane within safe bounds defined before takeoff. Jessen said, the idea is to let the autonomous test aircraft fly itself out of the safety bounds; the TACE program would then take over control of the airplane and take it to a safe point.


Skyborg’s TACE complements AFRL’s previous work with artificial intelligence used with programs such as the Automatic Ground and Air Collision Avoidance Systems, which have been proven to have saved lives.


Earlier this year, ET-CTF conducted a TACE test on a smaller, lower-performance aircraft. That earlier test proved that the program works on a slower aircraft, one that flew at 30 knots. After today’s test, ET-CTF will eventually equip TACE on even larger, more powerful, full-size aircraft.


“Ultimately this is going to be our safety net for future autonomous testing, we hope to be testing autonomy that does air combat-type maneuvers and TACE is fundamental to being able to allow us to do that safely and effectively,” Jessen said.


Edwards provides care, opportunities for children aged six weeks through high school graduation

Edwards provides care, opportunities for childrenaged six weeks through high school graduation

The Child and Youth Program at Edwards AFB provides care and opportunities for kids ages six weeks old through high school graduation. A brief summary of those services follows:

  •                    The Child Development Center cares for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years, with a DOD-wide curriculum. The curriculum is focused on learning through play activities supporting social, emotional, physical and intellectual development. Installations across DOD follow the curriculum on the same timeline to allow seamless permanent change-of-station transitions for youth enrolled in care.
  •                    The School Age Center provides before and after-school care and summer camp for children ages 5 to 12. During school breaks, full-day camps are offered. SAC promotes cognitive, social, emotional, cultural, language and physical development through programs that encourage self-confidence, curiosity, self-discipline and resiliency.
  •                    The open recreation program at the Main Youth Center provides a safe space for ages 9 to 12 to attend after school. Programs include Power Hour, STEM, Torch Club, social recreation, youth camps, special events and more.
  •                    The youth sports program provides intro and league opportunities for ages 3 to 12, and promotes inclusiveness, self-discipline, commitment, resiliency and social skills. There are four sports offered annually for ages five to 12: baseball/softball, soccer, flag football and basketball. Smart start programs are available to ages 3 to 5. There are many other sports and camps offered throughout the year.
  •                    The Teen Center is available for ages 13 to 18 during the school year. Programs offered include Military Youth of the Year, Keystone Club, social recreation, STEM activities, college trips, leadership camps and more.
  •                    Youth programs (SAC, open rec and teen) are affiliated with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and 4-H.
  •                    Family Child Care homes – there are currently three FCC homes on the installation. They can provide care for ages two weeks to 12 years. FCC providers are trained by Child and Youth Program training and curriculum specialists and have the flexibility to determine their hours of operation and the ages of youth within their care. The program’s new dedicated manager, Jennifer Stegmann, may be reached at 661-275-7529.

Although CDC enrollment capacity is 317, not all slots are currently filled because of a shortage of childcare workers. School Age Center enrollment capacity is 156. After-school care enrollment is 130. Before-school care enrollment is 75. Summer Camp 2022 was at its capacity and enrollment for Summer Camp 2023 opens April 3.