PrecisionHawk Inc., an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer and aerial data processing and analysis company, has introduced a new solution called LATAS (low altitude tracking and avoidance system) for the safe integration of UAVs into national airspace.
As an automated air traffic control system for UAVs, LATAS has the ability to provide flight planning, tracking and avoidance for every drone in the sky using real-time flight data transmission based on worldwide cellular networks, explains PrecisionHawk.
Developed to be plug and play or integrated into a UAV's circuit during manufacturing, LATAS is small (3 x 2 x 1 inches), light (>100 grams) and operational on network speeds as low as 2G.
‘The development of LATAS is based around the idea that we can use existing technologies at a low cost and weight, and avoid the creation of an entire new system,’ comments Tyler Collins, director of business development at PrecisionHawk and LATAS creator. ‘We need more advanced computer systems to deal with the technology side, and reversely, we need the technology side to work within traditional safety methods to provide the [Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)] with a safety-first solution.’
PrecisionHawk explains that the FAA has maintained its stance that safe UAV integration cannot take place without a UAV reporting system in place. Large agencies have answered the call to create a solution that will help the FAA get ahead of the developing market, and many have successfully completed test flights.
However, according to the company, the currently proposed solutions include local radar stations that will need to be placed all over the U.S., not taking into account potential infrastructure costs. LATAS will allow users to request, track and verify all flight operations from a centralized location and automatically report flight paths back to the FAA.
‘Cheaper, smaller and more commonly used UAVs, those are the ones flying in the approach paths,’ adds Collins. ‘In the technology world, we reward innovation and speed, but in the FAA's world, they reward safety. LATAS is a viable solution to reward both sides – giving pilots a way to know where UAVs are before they become a safety concern.’
PrecisionHawk says LATAS is currently a working prototype using the code standards that are required for air traffic control. The solution is patent pending.