Echodyne Corp. has completed what it says is the first-ever successful test of airborne detect-and-avoid (DAA) radar on a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Over a period of several days, the drone, equipped with Echodyne’s radar, flew multiple missions below 400 feet. According to the company, the UAV was of a size, payload and range well suited for package delivery, infrastructure inspection and agricultural monitoring.
The radar tests were conducted with an undisclosed partner by using Echodyne’s developer kit radar with its patented Metamaterial Electronically Scanning Array (MESA). Echodyne’s radar is based on metamaterials technology, which enables the radar to deliver high-performance electronic scanning in a smaller, lighter and less-expensive form factor, the company explains.
Echodyne says MESA-DAA will be available to commercial customers in early 2017.
“It’s great to see our technology performing in real-world field tests exactly as designed,” comments Eben Frankenberg, founder and CEO of Echodyne. “We’ve made tremendous progress with our technology in a very short time and are excited to release our MESA-DAA radar into the market in just a few months. Tests like this show that advanced radar can be deployed directly on small commercial UAVs to ensure safe, beyond-line-of-sight drone operations. Unlike other sensor technologies such as cameras and LIDARs, radar provides accurate tracking of obstacles at long range across a broad field of view in all types of weather.”
Echodyne says the radar provided a 4D data cube of radar returns and accurately depicted ground vegetation, barbed wire fences and other stationary obstacles, as well as the flight paths of other airborne aircraft.