Graph Learning Based Decision Support for Multi-Aircraft Take-Off and Landing at Urban Air Mobility Vertiports

by   Prajit KrisshnaKumar, et al.

Majority of aircraft under the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) concept are expected to be of the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle type, which will operate out of vertiports. While this is akin to the relationship between general aviation aircraft and airports, the conceived location of vertiports within dense urban environments presents unique challenges in managing the air traffic served by a vertiport. This challenge becomes pronounced within increasing frequency of scheduled landings and take-offs. This paper assumes a centralized air traffic controller (ATC) to explore the performance of a new AI driven ATC approach to manage the eVTOLs served by the vertiport. Minimum separation-driven safety and delays are the two important considerations in this case. The ATC problem is modeled as a task allocation problem, and uncertainties due to communication disruptions (e.g., poor link quality) and inclement weather (e.g., high gust effects) are added as a small probability of action failures. To learn the vertiport ATC policy, a novel graph-based reinforcement learning (RL) solution called "Urban Air Mobility- Vertiport Schedule Management (UAM-VSM)" is developed. This approach uses graph convolutional networks (GCNs) to abstract the vertiport space and eVTOL space as graphs, and aggregate information for a centralized ATC agent to help generalize the environment. Unreal Engine combined with Airsim is used as the simulation environment over which training and testing occurs. Uncertainties are considered only during testing, due to the high cost of Mc sampling over such realistic simulations. The proposed graph RL method demonstrates significantly better performance on the test scenarios when compared against a feasible random decision-making baseline and a first come first serve (FCFS) baseline, including the ability to generalize to unseen scenarios and with uncertainties.


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