NASA Dryden's DROID small unmanned research aircraft executes a hard right climbing turn to avoid crashing into a rocky desert ridge during flight tests of a miniature ground collision avoidance system for small unmanned air vehicles. (NASA photo)

NASA Dryden’s DROID small unmanned research aircraft executes a hard right climbing turn to avoid crashing into a rocky desert ridge during flight tests of a miniature ground collision avoidance system for small unmanned air vehicles. (NASA photo)

NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center was hailing it latest success after wrapping up tests of its miniature airplane equipped with a cellphone-controlled experimental crash avoidance system.

The unmanned Dryden Remotely Operated Integrated Drone, called DROID, flew with a miniature automatic ground collision avoidance system (Auto-GCAS) was successful in automatically executing turns and pull-ups when it sensed the ground or an imminent collision with terrain in the flight path.

Project team members secure the aircraft’s single-piece wing during flight tests of the project’s miniature ground collision avoidance system for small unmanned air vehicles. (NASA photo)

Project team members secure the aircraft’s single-piece wing during flight tests of the project’s miniature ground collision avoidance system for small unmanned air vehicles. (NASA photo)

The GCAS software was adapted by the Dryden project team into an Android app.

“For these last flights, the smartphone aboard the aircraft eliminated the need for the ground control station link to be in constant communications with the aircraft,” said Dryden’s project manager Mark Skoog. “On these flights the system performed very reliably, consistently initiating recoveries close to the last possible moment, even in the face of numerous losses of communications with the ground control station right at the critical point of needing to avoid the colliding with the mountain.”

During the last two test flights, the DROID executed five automatic fly-ups and ridge crossings over mountainous terrain near Edwards Air Force Base

“In all, the phone-on-aircraft software changes functioned well,” NASA said in a statement.

The GCAS system is still in its infancy. When mature, it could have wide-ranging applications helping manned, remote controlled, and autonomous aircraft avoid crashing.