Gryphon Sensors seeks to commercialize UAS radar system

By Patrick C. Miller | November 13, 2014

Gryphon Sensors, SRC Inc.'s new subsidiary, will focus on developing ground-based radar for UAS sense-and-avoid technology in the civilian market.

Company president Tony Albanese said that although parent company SRC has developed ground-based UAS radar for the U.S. Army, Gryphon will engage in developing a completely separate system for civilian use.

“We established a commercial company to develop sensors for the safe integration of UASs into the national and international airspace,” he said. “We see this as an emerging market. Our primary focus will be developing radar, but we’re looking at other sensors and systems for that purpose as well.”

Albanese said Gryphon Sensors was created because the military doesn’t want the same systems it uses to be available commercially.

“What we opted to do was move over expertise that can create new sensors that don’t look anything like the current sensors and don’t function anything like current sensors to protect our military from having vulnerabilities exposed,” he explained.

He noted that an SRC radar system is already in use by the Army.

“They’re using it for training missions for UASs to essentially clear the air space,” Albanese said. “If there’s an incursion that they detect with the radar, they vector the UAS to a safe zone or land the UAS.”

Albanese believes that because the Federal Aviation Administration has so much experience with radar, it’s likely the agency will look to ground-based radar as a UAS sense-and-avoid solution. He stressed that there are technical issues to overcome.

“This mission is very, very difficult because we’re focused on the very small UASs,” he noted. “These are very small, very slow, very low to the ground. The challenges there are very difficult because you have a lot of environmental factors that you have to deal with like birds, for example, that look to a radar like these really small UASs.”

The ultimate goal is create an environment in which many UAVs can safely operate.

“People have to realize what the No. 1 mission of the FAA is: It’s safety first,” Albanese said. “They’re going to proceed with caution. This is a massive problem. With tens of thousands of UAS being delivered into the U.S. every month, this problem’s only going to get worse before it gets better.”

Albanese said another reason SRC spun off Gryphon Sensors is because a commercial entity needs a completely different business model.

“It’s extremely difficult to sell commercial items from within a government business framework,” he said. “So we felt that it was appropriate to separate the two and take a different approach.”

Albanese is confident that the experience in developing and operating ground-based radar systems for the military will pay off in the civilian world.

“SRC has been in the business for a long time, and it’s one of our specialties,” he noted. “Now we’re trying to leverage some of that expertise in Gryphon Sensors.”