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PrecisionHawk Inc., a leading provider of drone technology for the enterprise, announced on May 1 the first beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS)-enabled, multi-rotor drone platform.
First to market, the drone incorporates industry-leading technology to automatically identify all cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft within a 10-kilometer radius, ensuring airspace de-confliction well before potential confrontation.
The platform was designed based on the findings and recommendations in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Pathfinder Report, which serves as a blueprint for enterprises to conduct BVLOS drone operations.
“Flying drones over long distances — an imperative for inspecting miles of oil-and-gas pipeline in remote areas or hundreds of acres of crops — has been all but impossible to-date as the FAA requires very high safety standards from drone operators seeking to fly beyond line of sight,” said Michael Chasen, PrecisionHawk CEO. “The completion of the Pathfinder Program marks the end of three years-worth of research that outlines specific recommendations for training and technology to maximize safety and accomplish the next phase of industry expansion.”
Through the Pathfinder fieldwork, PrecisionHawk identified three pieces of technology that should be required for safe BVLOS operations. The technology components were incorporated into a multirotor drone that can fly two hours and up to 40 miles in one flight to support safe, long-range operations:
- Drone tracking: Drone is equipped with GPS technology to broadcast location and trajectory of the drone at all times, making it visible to drones and other aircraft in its vicinity;
- Real-time manned aircraft identification: Drone includes low altitude traffic and airspace safety (LATAS) technology, which provides access to real-time manned aircraft data through an exclusive partnership with HARRIS; and
- Detect and avoid for non-cooperative aircraft: An acoustic- based aircraft detection (ABAD) system is integrated on the drone to detect non-cooperative aircraft, available through an exclusive partnership with SARA.
“Under the regulatory framework for conducting drone operations, drone pilots are required to ‘see and avoid’ other aircraft,” said Allison Ferguson, director of airspace safety at PrecisionHawk. “Easily done on an aircraft with humans in the cockpit, this is far more challenging for a drone pilot located on the ground. This is where choosing the right assistive technology is critical to safe BVLOS flight.”
Any company with big infrastructure investments over vast distances could reap huge benefits from BVLOS drone operations. Under PrecisionHawk’s own commercial BVLOS waiver, it has identified opportunities to save as much as $180 for every mile of data capture when compared to traditional methods.
“With the Pathfinder Report as the foundation, PrecisionHawk has developed a unique perspective on what it takes to fly BVLOS from both a service, training and technology perspective,” Chasen continued. “Through our research and exclusive technology partnerships, we are well-positioned to bring this BVLOS flight solution to market and support other companies as they set out to meet the recommendations for BVLOS flight.”
PrecisionHawk will be demoing the BVLOS drone at AUVSI Xponential, April 30 to May 3, Denver, Colorado, at booth 1418.
For more information on PrecisionHawk’s BVLOS consulting and training program or the multi-rotor BVLOS drone platform, click here.