State departments of transportation (DOTs) and local agencies are utilizing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in more day-to-day operations such as asset inspections, operations, traffic incident management, mapping, bridge and structure inspections, geographic information system (GIS), environmental requirements, and a variety of other uses. However, there have been different challenges of integrating UAS operational capabilities into U.S. national airspace system. These unique challenges are related to (1) overlapping jurisdictional decision-making, funding, regulations and rules, and infrastructure development; (2) identifying roles and responsibilities, areas of overlap, and gaps in responsibilities; and (3) undefined or unaddressed issues that need work and options for mediating conflicting roles and responsibilities. Additionally, external developments on package delivery via UAS and advanced air mobility (AAM) raise issues about their safe operation over state and local rights-of-way and needed ground infrastructure and air space management. There is a need to aid state DOTs and local agencies in addressing the operational challenges and issues, and develop a roadmap for implementation of UAS operational capabilities.
The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook to assist state DOTs and local agencies with the implementation of UAS operational capabilities.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
Task 1. Conduct a literature review of relevant research and current state of practice related to UAS operational capabilities (e.g., inspection, survey, monitoring, beyond visual line-of-sight, small package delivery). The review shall include published and unpublished research conducted through national, international, state, and pooled-fund sponsored research as well as the literature generated within the public sector and by the UAS/AAM/ urban air mobility (UAM) developers in the private sector.
Task 2. Conduct a survey of state DOTs and local agencies, and other public and private sectors to (1) identify current practices, funding resources, and strategies currently used for integrating UAS operational capabilities and (2) collect data needed to update the maturity of the UAS operational capabilities. The survey shall be reviewed and approved by NCHRP before distribution.
Task 3. Synthesize Tasks 1 and 2 to identify the knowledge gaps for the implementation of UAS operational capabilities. These gaps should be addressed in this research as budget permits, or in the recommendations for future research.
Task 4. Propose a methodology to achieve the research objective, to be fully developed in Phase II. At the minimum, the methodology shall:
- Consider future UAS integration through UAS traffic management (UTM), AAM, and UAM;
- Identify roles and responsibilities among state DOTs, and federal and local agencies including areas of overlap and gaps in responsibilities;
- Develop a framework for coordinating resources from state DOTs or local agencies with UAS integration programs;
- Develop outreach strategies for coordinating UAS integration between multiple jurisdictions and engaging with private stakeholders;
- Identify federal funding resources available for state DOTs or local agencies for the implementation of UAS (including AAM/UAM) operational capabilities;
- Identify requirements of workforce qualifications and training programs; and
- Develop a standalone roadmap including the requirements for implementing the UAS operational capabilities by state DOTs including information technology (IT) infrastructure and security, data retention policy, organization structure and workflow, and training.
Task 5. Prepare a detailed outline of the proposed guidebook.
Task 6. Prepare Interim Report No. 1 that documents Tasks 1 through 5 and provides an updated work plan for the remainder of the research no later than 6 months after contract award. The updated plan must describe the process and rationale for the work proposed for Phases II and III.
Note: Following a 1-month review of Interim Report No. 1 by the NCHRP, the research team will meet with the project panel to discuss the interim report. Work on Phases II and III of the project will not begin until authorized by the NCHRP. Phase I shall be limited to $60,000.
PHASE II— Methodology Development
Task 7. Execute Task 4 according to the approved Interim Report No.1.
Task 8. Develop the guidebook according to the approved Task 5.
Task 9. Develop a plan to organize and conduct a workshop in which key stakeholders will review the draft guide and standalone road map.
Task 10. Prepare Interim Report No. 2 that documents Tasks 7 through 9 and provides an updated work plan for the remainder of the research no later than 10 months after approval of Phase I. The updated plan must describe the process and rationale for the work proposed for Phase III.
Note: Following a 1-month review of Interim Report No. 2 by the NCHRP, the research team will meet with the project panel to discuss the interim report, if necessary. Work on Phase III of the project will not begin until authorized by the NCHRP. Phase II shall be limited to $130,000.
PHASE III—Workshop and Final Deliverables
Task 11. Conduct a workshop with at least 15 representatives of state DOTs and other stakeholders to review the draft guidebook. Revise the draft guidebook and workshop materials taking into account feedback gathered during the workshop no later than 3 months after approval of Phase II.
Note: The costs for the workshop, including invitational travel for at least 15 attendees (not including members of the research team), should be included in the detailed budget for the research. For the purpose of estimating these costs, assume that the workshop will be held at a TRB facility (Keck Center in Washington, DC or the Beckman Center in Irvine, CA). NCHRP will cover costs associated with hosting the workshop as well as NCHRP panel member travel.
Task 12. Prepare final deliverables including: (1) a conduct of research that documents the entire research effort, (2) the guidebook, (3) the stand-alone roadmap, and (4) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.” See Special Note C for additional information. The draft deliverables are due no later than 3 months after approval of Phase II.
Note: Following receipt of the draft final report, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the revised final report. Phase III shall be limited to $90,000.
B. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
C. The NCHRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of NCHRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state DOTs and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project. The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf.
D. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.
E. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.