The National Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Experimentation Corridor (NBEC), a collaboration between Cranfield University, Blue Bear Systems Research, Thales and Vodafone, has announced that it is testing new holographic radar technology that may allow unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to fly in the same airspace as manned aircraft.
The NBEC is a 10-mile BVLOS flight corridor running from Cranfield University’s global research airport towards Blue Bear Systems Research’s Twinwoods test site, and is intended to provide a safe, managed environment for drone research and experimentation, for applications including emergency services and medical industries.
The holographic radar technology tested at NBEC has been developed by radar specialist firm Aveillant, and is already being used to detect drones at several international airports. It differs from traditional mechanically scanned radars and electronically scanned systems, requiring only a very narrow bandwidth and digitising the entire detected airspace
Dr Dominic Walker, Chief Executive Officer at Aveillant, commented: “The radar successfully detected and tracked a number of different drones, with excellent correlation between the detected and real tracks. This test proves and de-risks the technology which will underpin the NBEC airspace monitoring.”
Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace at Cranfield, said: “NBEC is a national asset that will help unlock the potential of a modernised UK airspace. The key to future drone operations is not segregation, but full integration, ensuring fair and equitable use of airspace.”