PrecisionHawk has been awarded two patents for new unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) technologies that are designed to enable collision avoidance between drones and manned aircraft by transmitting real-time flight data from drones to a UTM server before and during flight.
The first of PrecisionHawk’s patents is for technology that allows drones to send real-time telemetry to flight servers to avoid collisions with other unmanned and manned aircraft while in the air. The second patent is for a solution that transmits flight plans to a traffic management server prior to a flight to see if there is a potential for flight conflicts. The server also receives similar data for other drones and manned aircraft, and sends an alert to the drone so the operator can adjust the flight plan in case of potential collision.
PrecisionHawk was an early pioneer in the UTM space, previously introducing LATAS, the Low Altitude Tracking and Avoidance System, which was designed to provide flight planning, tracking, and avoidance for drones using real-time flight data transmission based on existing worldwide cellular networks. LATAS was developed to demonstrate that integrating drones into the National Airspace (NAS) could be done safely in order to enable wider drone operations.
PrecisionHawk was also the lead institution on the FAA’s Pathfinder Program (Focus Area Two), and was responsible for conducting research to determine operational strategies and technology solutions for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations. This research was responsible for PrecisionHawk receiving the first nationwide BVLOS waiver.
With these new patents, PrecisionHawk aims to contribute to the efforts to develop a safe, robust, automated UTM system that can handle the expected traffic with remote identification to identify UAS. This will realize the humanitarian and economic benefits of drone technology for a wide range of applications including search and rescue, infrastructure inspection and analysis, and delivery of life-saving medicines and essential goods.
Dr. Allison Ferguson, Director of Airspace Research at PrecisionHawk, commented: “It’s clear that the more you know about the real-time environment you’re operating in, the more safely and efficiently you can operate. The more important question is how does a drone operator reliably get that situational awareness? What information is needed and when? LATAS was a key enabling technology for the Pathfinder efforts, which were aimed at determining answers to precisely those questions.”
Tyler Collins, PrecisionHawk Vice President of Enterprise Accounts and inventor of the technology, said: “The use of drones is becoming more ubiquitous across a number of enterprise industries. UTM is a critical piece of infrastructure that will enable more types of drone operations as the industry continues to grow and more complex operations, such as broad BVLOS, become needed. We see UTM being born out of necessity just as the current air traffic control system was in the 1930s. UTM is a natural next step to ensure safety of the airspace and those who share it.”