Bingen, Wash.-based Insitu, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Co., has announced the successful completion of a flight demonstration for its ground-based airspace situational awareness technology for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
Insitu says it is tackling one of the toughest challenges for UAS: the ability to detect nearby aircraft flying both within and beyond UAS operators’ line of sight.
Insitu, in collaboration with Boeing Phantom Works International, designed, developed and first tested the airspace situational awareness system in Australia under a program sponsored by the Queensland government.
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 drone operators, specifically to help detect and avoid so-called “non-cooperative” traffic. The system incorporates radio over internet protocol (ROIP) to expand the ability to communicate with air traffic control and local traffic in the operations area, explains Insitu.
Using either mobile or fixed infrastructure, the system 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 drones over extended ranges.
Insitu conducted a test flight of its BVLOS system at the Mississippi State University (MSU) Raspet Flight Center in November 2017. This flight showcased the work done by Insitu, the MSU Raspet Flight Center and Boeing Phantom Works International, as well as demonstrated a key airspace integration tool that potentially could be used in the U.S., says Insitu.
“We now have integrated a significant capability that will dramatically improve airspace safety,” says Dara Albouyeh, chief engineer of 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 UAS that satisfies the airspace regulators, providing UAS operators with access to information that we previously just couldn’t obtain otherwise,” adds Mark Bauman, vice president and general manager of Insitu Commercial. “Now, we can prevent conflicts far more reliably and will be able to access wide areas for commercial purposes. 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.”