Insitu, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company, has moved the concept of legal BVLOS flight forward a step, with their successful demonstration of a ground-based airspace situational awareness system for drones.
The system addresses a major challenge for regulators and drone operators: detecting nearby aircraft while flying, either within or beyond visual line of sight. Insitu’s system, built in collaboration with Boeing Phantom Works International, has been previously tested in Australia under a government program. “The system is designed as one of the optional “layers” of safety to enable broad-area, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capability for commercial UAS operations by providing airspace situational awareness for UAS operators, specifically to help detect and avoid so called “non-cooperative” traffic,” says an Insitu announcement. “The system incorporates radio over internet protocol (ROIP) to expand its ability to communicate with air traffic control and local traffic in the operations area.”
The system can be installed permanently or use a mobile unit like the one pictured above. Insitu’s solution combines “Airborne Dependent Surveillance Broadcasts (ADS-B) and transponder returns to provide a correlated common operating picture — enabling UAS operators at ground control systems to see real-time information about the local airspace.”
“Remotely detecting and tracking other airspace users, the system immediately sends the air traffic information back to a ground-control station — assisting operators in safely operating UASs over extended ranges.”
“We now have integrated a significant capability that will dramatically improve airspace safety,” said Dara Albouyeh, Chief Engineer, Certification, at Insitu. “This successful demonstration of our ground-based situational awareness system confirmed our ability to achieve deconfliction of the air traffic at the Choctaw County Airport and surrounding areas.”
“We’re developing our ability to fly long distances with our UASs that satisfies the airspace regulators, providing UAS operators with access to information that we previously just couldn’t obtain otherwise,” said Mark Bauman, Vice President and General Manager, Insitu Commercial. “Now, we can prevent conflicts far more reliably, and will be able to access wide areas for commercial purposes,” Bauman explained. “This system shows great promise as one of many solutions or “layers” that we are pursuing to increase safety and allow BVLOS flights in the U.S.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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