UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) have become a great concern these days. They were the center of most talks at The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. People want to know how soon they would be able to use drones for commercial purposes. There is quite a great number of UAVs in the air right now, being used for surveillance and data collection purposes by big companies. These UAVs are small and fly at low altitudes, making it really hard to locate and track them using current radar technologies. That is why, these drones are becoming a major safety concern for manned aircraft pilots.
In today’s advanced world, we need drones for various purposes. But drones are not safe yet for commercial use. For safe integration of UAVs into US National Airspace, FAA has launched the Pathfinder program in collaboration with Precision Hawk, CNN and BNSF Railways under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. The main purpose of this collaboration is to create a safe airspace for the commercial use of drones.
“In the technology world we reward innovation and speed, but the FAA rewards safety. LATAS is a viable solution to reward both sides, giving manned and unmanned aircraft operators a way to know where UAVs are before they become a safety concern.”
Tyler Collins, Director of LATAS
LATAS (Low Altitude Tracking and Avoidance System) is a safety technology incorporated inside the UAV for flight planning and tracking. The software for this technology is developed by Precision Hawk. This technology uses existing cellular networks and satellites for transmission of real-life flight data between drones and manned aircrafts. LATAS allows two way communication rather than one-way radar system already in use. With this technology, each UAV transmits its location and altitude, which is sent to air traffic controllers and pilots in other manned aircrafts while broadcasting back to FAA. LATAS is designed to enable the UAVs to take actions like landing or turning around if an unidentified object comes near it. This is particularly important for safe flight of drones beyond the controller’s line-of-sight.
LATAS is a cost efficient solution to the safety problems faced by FAA. It utilizes the existing communication systems and can operate at 2G network. Therefore, there is no need of establishing new and costly data transmission systems. Having dimensions of 3*2*1 in and weight around 100g, it has both options of either integration into UAV’s circuit during manufacturing or plug and play afterwards.
Now more people are getting interested in this technology. Companies like Intel, NASA and Google are spending millions for developing an integration system for safety, tracking and avoiding sense of the UAVs. Soon, commercial uses of drones will be allowed from FAA.