Echodyne has announced on 8 November the first successful test of an airborne Detect and Avoid (DAA) radar onboard a small unmanned aerial vehicle (SUAV), providing an opportunity to open up the national airspace system to beyond-visual-line-of-sight UAV operations.
Echodyne’s DAA radar was set up on a commercial UAV that flew multiple missions below 400ft over several days. The size, range and payload of the vehicle were suited for infrastructure inspection, agricultural monitoring and package delivery applications according to the company.
The radar enabled the SUAV to identify stationary and moving obstacles as it flew through airspace beyond the operator’s line of sight. The tests were conducted using Echodyne’s developer kit radar with its proprietary MESA technology, along with an undisclosed partner.
During the tests, the radar successfully scanned a broad field of view and tracked multiple aircraft types, including an SUAV, an ultralight aircraft and a Beechcraft Bonanza flying through its airspace. The radar also provided a 4D cube of radar returns that depicted stationary obstacles such as barbed wire fences and ground vegetation, as well as the tracked aircraft flight paths.
The developer kit radar is a precursor to Echodyne’s MESA-DAA radar that will be able to detect and track objects the size of a Cessna aircraft up to a range of 3km, and UAVs up to 750m. The radar is expected to launch commercially in early 2017.