Echodyne tests airborne detect and avoid radar aboard small unmanned aerial vehicle

US-based Echodyne and an undisclosed partner have tested an airborne detect-and-avoid (DAA) radar that flew aboard a small unmanned aerial vehicle (sUAV).

Mounted on the sUAV, the Echodyne-made radar flew in various missions below 400ft altitude for several days.

During testing, the radar scanned a broad field of view in both azimuth and elevation, as well as detected and tracked various types of aircraft, including a sUAV, a Beechcraft Bonanza, and an ultra-light aircraft flying through its airspace.

“Tests like this show that advanced radar can be deployed directly on small commercial UAVs to ensure safe beyond line of sight drone operations.”

Using Echodyne’s developer kit radar and its proprietary metamaterial electronically scanning array (MESA) solution, the radar also provided a 4D data cube of radar returns correctly showing ground vegetation, barbed wire fences and other stationary obstacles, as well as showed flight paths of the tracked aircraft.

The new MESA-DAA radar will be available for commercial use by early next year.

Echodyne founder and CEO Eben Frankenberg said: “We’ve made tremendous progress with our technology in a very short time.

“Tests like this show that advanced radar can be deployed directly on small commercial UAVs to ensure safe beyond line of sight drone operations.

“Unlike other sensor technologies such as cameras and LIDARs, radar provides accurate tracking of obstacles at long range across a broad field of view in all types of weather.”

The company noted that its detect and avoid technology helps a drone to ‘see’ moving and stationary obstacles during its flight through the airspace beyond line of sight of its operator.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also recently mandated all the UAVs to remain within visual line-of-sight of their pilot, who is responsible for avoiding collisions.

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