Insitu provides UAS pilots with improved situational awareness

By Patrick C. Miller | January 17, 2018

Boeing subsidiary Insitu successfully demonstrated its ground-based airspace situational awareness system for unmanned aircraft during a test flown at the Mississippi State University Raspet Flight Center.

The system has the ability to detect nearby aircraft flying within and beyond a drone operator’s line of sight. Remotely detecting and tracking other airspace users, the system immediately sends air traffic information back to a ground-control station—assisting operators in safely operating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) over extended ranges.

“We now have integrated a significant capability that will dramatically improve airspace safety,” said Dara Albouyeh, Insitu’s chief engineer of certification. “This successful demonstration of our ground-based situational awareness system confirmed our ability to achieve deconfliction of the air traffic at the Choctaw County Airport and surrounding areas.”

Insitu—in collaboration with Boeing Phantom Works International—designed, developed and tested the airspace situational awareness system in Australia under a program sponsored by the Queensland Government. The system is designed as an optional layer of safety to enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capability over a broad area for commercial UAS operations

Using Insitu’s technology, UAS operators have better situational awareness to detect and avoid non-cooperative air traffic. The system incorporates radio over internet protocol (ROIP) to expand communications with air traffic control and local traffic in the operations area.

Insitu conducted a test flight of its BVLOS system at MSU in November 2017. The successful test showcased the work done by Insitu, the MSU Raspet Flight Center and Boeing Phantom Works International to demonstrate a key airspace integration tool for potential use in the U.S.

Insitu believes the application of UAS-enabling technologies will benefit a wide range of sectors, including mining, oil and gas operations, search and rescue, environmental management and others. The company said its system provides operators with the ability to collect and analyze data using an airborne platform such as its ScanEagle UAS.

"We’re developing our ability to fly long distances with our UASs that satisfies the airspace regulators, providing UAS operators with access to information that we previously just couldn't obtain otherwise,” said Mark Bauman, vice president and general manager of Insitu Commercial.