Common Integration Tool (CIT) simulator Image
The Common Integration Tool (CIT) simulator shows an element of the EVAA software system called the called Automatic improved Ground Collision Avoidance System, which takes over from the pilot to guide the aircraft to safety. The pilot in this case is flying a small remotely piloted aircraft. (Credits: NASA Video)

There have been approximately 1,200 to 1,300 general aviation accidents per year since 2013, which is down from the years before. While the improvement is good, NASA is working to decrease the number of aircraft crashes even more. NASA, the FAA, and the Department of Defense developed the Expandable Variable Autonomy Architecture that can help prevent accidents in general aviation aircraft and future autonomous aircraft.

The Expandable Variable Autonomy Architecture  is based on an earlier NASA-developed technology that performs a similar function for military aircraft. EVAA includes functions to prevent smaller airplanes from diving into a canyon, into the side of a mountain, or into the ground by avoiding obstacles and guiding the plane to a safe landing area. An element in the software, called the Moral Compass, helps decide which moves to make by switching control to the highest priority task based on weighing the odds of safety.