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Technology / Emerging Technology

Airbus Develops Own Chipset for Drone Traffic Management

Airbus has developed a new chipset that underpins technology designed to make drones easier to detect, helping to improve airspace safety when drones are in use.

The chipset is carried in the aerospace multinational’s Drone-it! device. This was developed under Europe’s Clear Air Situation for UAS (or CLASS) project.

CLASS, funded under the Horizon 2020 funding round, aims to help mature technologies needed for surveillance of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) traffic.

European regulators hope it will help lead to the development of a UAS Traffic Management System (UTMS) prototype.

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What is Drone-it!?

Drone-it! uses a Global Navigation Satellite System transmitter and receiver in conjunction with the new chipset developed and built by Airbus telecommunications technicians, Airbus said. The CLASS project was launched as drones are can be difficult to detect, as they are small and often indistinguishable on radar.

(The company did not provide further specifications on the chip).

The transmitter sends information independently from the drone’s avionics system, while the chipset has the capability to relay a message through a satellite in geostationary orbit; or it can contact ground networks directly.

The technology was trialled in the UK last October via the CLASS initiative; part of the Single European Sky ATM research project.

One area of interest for the CLASS project is the integration of Geo-fencing and Geo-caging technology. These will allow government agency to set up no-go or restricted areas such as airports, military bases or drone restricted urban areas.

Geo-fenced areas will alert the UAS operate that they are currently entered into a restricted area and could face legal consequences. CLASS is operating as a “bottom up” project and is tracking technologies through live experiments.

“Data fusion will be developed to merge data of the same UAS detected by both cooperative and non-cooperative trackers,” the EU said.

Unmanned Aerial Systems

Earlier this year Airbus also showcased the capabilities of their unmanned teaming aerial systems  for use in search and rescue operations.

They simulated a sailor lost at sea scenario, where a search helicopter is deployed from the coast to find the missing person. This is a situation in which time is of the essence and it can be difficult to find one person lost at sea given the vast area that needs to be searched. As part of the search and rescue team deployed in the helicopter is a drone operator who is linked to five unmanned aerial systems. These drones act as extra sites of eyes considerably enlarging the area that the single helicopter search team can cover.

See Also: DJI Drone Hack Opens Up Flight and Video Records to Threat Actors

An important factor being tested as part of the trails was Airbus’ flight management and flight control systems designed in-house for specific use in unmanned air vehicles.

The system mixes intelligent swarming capabilities, automatic guidance, navigation and control. Airbus notes in its blog that the demonstrations brought together several of the company’s programme and product lines, with the main development and test phases conducted “during a short timeframe and at low cost – supported by an agile, rapid prototyping environment and a risk-mitigation approach.”
This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.

CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.