PrecisionHawk, NASA to develop UAS traffic management systems

By Emily Aasand | March 26, 2015

PrecisionHawk, a manufacturer of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) and cloud-based software to collect, manage and analyze aerial data, will join a NASA collaboration to build a traffic management system for UAVs. In January, PrecisionHawk launched a prototype for a Low Altitude Tracking and Avoidance System (LATAS) to serve as a solution for the safe integration of UAVs into the National Airspace.

“To provide a scalable means for drones to be integrated into an overall UTM system, you need a hardware solution that will work on a platform regardless of size or weight,” said Tyler Collins, director of business development at PrecisionHawk and creator of LATAS. “Currently, manufacturers that are working to integrate their specific systems in a UTM are leaving out a huge network of drone users, including the hobbyist unmanned vehicles, which comprise the majority of the space.”

PrecisionHawk will work with NASA and other partners to test a wide range of UAVs in real-world scenarios. As NASA continues to develop a workable UTM, LATAS will have the potential to serve as the hardware addition for each drone attached to that overarching system, the company said.

LATAS is 3x2x1 inches, weighs roughly 100 grams, and is operational on network speeds as low as 2G. The device provides flight planning, tracking and sense and avoidance to each drone that flies within the National Airspace System. The system is capable of working on any UAV platform from large military aircraft to small hobbyist quad-copters, regardless of autopilot make and model.

“As NASA continues to add features to system, we will work closely to make sure that the LATAS feature set compliments the landscape of the UTM,” said Collins. “This relationship with NASA reinforces our mission to progress the commercial UAS landscape in the U.S. by utilizing safe and efficient solutions.”

PrecisionHawk recently announced a collaboration with the University of Toronto to develop solutions for UAVs in the event of GPS loss or jam. The partnership, known as Project Breadcrumb, will aid UAV travel when all other communications or navigation systems are lost. Project Breadcrumb will be developed as a component of PrecisionHawk’s LATAS and it too will be applicable on any UAV platform.


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