As drone technology continues to advance and becomes more accessible for commercial entities of all sizes, the number of unmanned aircraft in the skies will increase significantly. In order for the industry to continue to grow and for national airspaces to accommodate this extra traffic, stringent safety precautions must be implemented and adhered to.
Manned aviation has a long-established set of regulations and protocols, but due to the unique requirements of unmanned aircraft, these cannot simply be copied wholesale. New ecosystems must be developed that can track and manage unmanned aircraft both at close range and BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) using a variety of sensors and technologies. These solutions are commonly referred to within the industry as UTM, or unmanned traffic management.
Sunhillo is a developer of surveillance, flight and data distribution systems. Having provided solutions for manned aviation to the United States Department of Defense, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), and other civil aviation authorities worldwide for over three decades, the company has been working within the UAS (unmanned aerial systems) market or over 8 years, including the original NASA UTM Task orders with the Mid Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) / Virginia Tech Test Site.
One of Sunhillo’s innovations is its Multi-Track Fuser capability, which allows UTM systems to process multiple data streams from not only radars but other sources of information such as ADS-B, and correlate them into a single track. This provides a single accurate reference for each unmanned aircraft operating within the airspace, massively simplifying the acquisition of UAV surveillance data and preventing display clutter from multiple tracks.
Multi-Track Fuser can be connected to up to 32 sensors at once, and can handle up to 800 tracks continuously per sensor. Altogether, it allows up to 5000 fused tracks to be output, enabling it to support large volumes of unmanned aircraft traffic. The versatile system can accept input data and provide output tracks in a variety of different formats, including ASTERIX, CD2, and ASR9. Output data can also be framed in a number of formats including SGF and ECGP.
This newly fused track data can then be fed to a surveillance display such as a UTM, ATC, or directly to Sunhillo’s Surveillance Monitoring System display which can be used at an Operations Center for situational awareness. Providing a display of surveillance data is a critical component when flying BVLOS or in UTM airspace, since remote pilots must be able to see what crewed and uncrewed aircraft are in the area when performing flight operations.
Multi-Track Fuser is just one facet of Sunhillo’s powerful SureLine software suite, which powers all of the company’s surveillance products and provides a range of advanced features that benefit manned and unmanned air traffic control alike. SureLine’s functionality includes a multitude of radar format conversions and translations, as well as highly useful filtering, analysis and visualization tools. The software suite offers a comprehensive web-based GUI that enables UTM suppliers to easily integrate SureLine into their systems.
Sunhillo also offers a specialized hardware solution that provides real-time situational awareness for both UAS pilots and air traffic control. Designed to work in conjunction with unmanned aircraft ground control stations, Sunhillo’s UAS-C converts the positional data received from the aircraft into a radar or ADS-B message that can be forwarded to command centers, ATC, or UTM systems. This provides a crucial tracking and surveillance capability that can be implemented without imposing any additional burden upon the SWaP (size, weight and power) budget of the aircraft. UAS-C can utilize cellular LTE communications, or be directly connected to other systems via Ethernet.
UAS-C is an essential capability for tracking UAVs operating in controlled airspace, and is also ideal for supporting BVLOS waiver requests, which require strict safety cases in order to satisfy aviation authorities and gain regulatory approval.
Together, Sunhillo’s hardware and software solutions form a complete surveillance capability that provides UTM systems with the ability to ensure safe and secure drone operations in the national airspace. To find out more about Sunhillo’s offerings, visit their website.