CONTENT PREVIEW
ATC

UTM technologies make an impression at Madrid show

21 March 2019
Unifly developed BLIP (the white panel attached to the UAV pictured here) as an e-identification and tracking solution. Source: Unifly

More than 40 UTM presentations at World ATM Congress included new airspace authorisation tools and procedures that will open up airspace to UAS operators over the next few months.

The experiences of the December 2018 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) disruption at Gatwick Airport are still painfully raw. With many European air navigation service providers (ANSPs) introducing initial UAS traffic management (UTM) systems for deployment in 2019 and 2020, the UTM system product launches and industrial tie-ups announced in Madrid at World ATM Congress 2019 on 12–14 March centred on identifying and tracking co-operative and uncooperative UASs.

Tracking co-operative UASs via mobile phone networks is relatively simple – but some technology developers have addressed the problem of how to track a UAS flying beyond mobile network coverage.

UTM technology company Unifly used World ATM Congress to launch its e-identification and tracking solution for UAS. This broadcast location and identity platform (BLIP) device works independently of mobile phone networks, with its own power source and sensors for position, altitude, temperature, pressure, speed, and direction. It is ready for use as soon as the pilot attaches it to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

As soon as the BLIP-equipped UAV takes off, the device automatically starts sending tracking data over the LTE wireless broadband network to the UTM backbone, broadcasting e-identification, 3D location, and take-off position data over Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Unifly believes that BLIP is tailored to the specific needs of UTM service providers and local authorities, allowing, for example, a police patrol to read out all details of UAVs flying within 200 m.

Another UAS tracker was launched at the event by AirMap and Honeywell. This is based on a multisensor tracking system that can exploit 4G communications and satellite-based networks in areas without 4G coverage, broadcasting real-time UAV telemetry feeds to a UTM system.

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