FCC approves UAS radar used for in-flight BVLOS

By Luke Geiver | August 31, 2018

After joining with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in May as part of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Integration Pilot Program, Echodyne has taken another major step towards fully integrating its unique detect-and-avoid in-air radar system into everyday unmanned flights.

The Bellevue, Washington-based company that is backed by Bill Gates, Madrona Venture Group, Vulcan Capital and Lux Capital, recently received FCC certification for its EchoFlight radar. The high-performance radar features precision beam-steering that minimizes collision risk by tracking aircraft locations at all times across a broad field-of-view, according to the company, even in dense airspace or over cluttered environments.

The system also has search-while-tracking features that scans like a phased array, a compact design with low weight and low power for integration into a wide variety of UAS platforms, and, for beyond visual line of sight missions, an all-weather detection and tracking function.

Until now, the radar was only available for experimental purposes, but, the company said, it can be applied to multiple UAVs now with the FCC certification.

“Echodyne is excited to receive authorization from the FCC and to make EchoFlight available to the many UAS partners in the U.S.,” said Eben Frankenberg, CEO. “Our compact, solid-state, lightweight yet powerful radar offers that ability to scan large volumes of airspace and track other aircraft with sufficient range to maintain safety.”

Echodyne’s innovative high-performance radar sensors are built on patented MESA technology that provides high-resolution 3-D situational awareness data for autonomous vehicles, unmanned aircraft systems, critical infrastructure security, and public safety. The North Dakotoa Department of Transportation, the lead for the FAA's IPP award to North Dakota, "are an excellent fit for the project because they contribute critical all-weather detection and tracking by leveraging patented Metamaterial Electronically Scanning Array (MESA) technology and intelligent radar control software," according to the company.