Detect-and-Avoid Technology Enables UK BVLOS Drone Trials

By Mike Ball / 06 Jun 2020
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Skyports BVLOS trial drone with Iris Automation DAA

Iris Automation’s Casia computer-vision-based Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) technology is being integrated into UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) operated by drone delivery service provider Skyports that are being used to trial beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights in non-segregated airspace. The flights are being performed as part of the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) Regulatory Sandbox programme, which explores innovative concepts in aviation in line with core principles of safety, security and consumer protection.

Skyports is a specialist in end-to-end drone deliveries within the medical, e-commerce and logistics sectors, and will work with the UK CAA to explore how regulatory approvals can be granted for drones safely flying BVLOS within airspace that is shared with other aircraft. A robust solution to this issue is vital in order to make permanent drone deliveries a reality.

Iris Automation’s Casia will allow Skyports’ drones to automatically gain visibility of and understand the surrounding airspace, and independently react as if a pilot were on board to avoid mid-air collisions.

Skyports will also be assisted by Thales, who will provide their Soarizon integrated UAS mission planning and flight management software as well as secure remote electronic identification through Thales Remote ID for drone tracking. Environmental assessment partner RSK will assist with applying its skills and expertise in assessing factors such as noise, air quality and carbon and social impact strategies.

Duncan Walker, Chief Executive Officer at Skyports, commented: “Using drone deliveries within supply chains can create significant time and cost savings. The current COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the role that unmanned aircraft applications can play in keeping the flow of goods moving, especially medical products, limiting human contact and supplying hard-to-reach communities.”

“A critical step in enabling permanent delivery drone operations is being able to operate out of sight of the remote pilot in airspace used by others. Through this game-changing partnership with the UK Civil Aviation Authority, we will be trialling the integration of our technologically-advanced unmanned aircraft in this shared airspace to demonstrate that our delivery drones can be operated safely alongside other aircraft.”

Frédéric Laugère, Innovation Services Lead at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, stated: “Regularly operating unmanned vehicles beyond visual line of sight of their operator is a key requirement to maximise the benefits that they can deliver. We are delighted to start this new collaboration with Skyports and its partners, and working together to explore requirements under which regulatory approval of BVLOS operations could be granted. The public and the industry will undoubtedly benefit from the findings we generate and the insights we gain.”

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact