Canadian Unmanned Traffic Management and fleet management company AirMarket, in partnership with mobility and IT Company Telus, have carried out a successful live demonstration of a system designed to safely operate multiple drones for surveillance, infrastructure monitoring, and more.
For drones to be operated at scale, you need a few things going for you. You’ve got to have reliable software to control those Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS is the Canadian term for drone). You require some form of Unmanned Traffic Management, or UTM, to ensure your fleet is aware in real time of the position of any manned aircraft near its mission path. And you need the ability to capture and analyze actionable data.
That’s a lot of stuff. AirMarket Inc. believes the solution lays with its Skylink solution.
Drones at scale
We’ve all seen the power of a single drone. We’ve also seen, despite their capabilities, that there are limitations to what a single operator can do with that vehicle. To truly realize the potential of drones, there are many applications – particularly in the Enterprise sector – where flying multiple drones safely becomes a true force multiplier. Such a system could also open the door for Beyond Visual Line of Sight flight, which is the Holy Grail for many operators.
To get there, you need reliable software, widespread connectivity, real-time awareness of manned aircraft activity, instant access to NOTAMS (Notice to Airmen), and more.
AirMarket and Telus
Now, Calgary firm AirMarket, in a partnership with wireless provider and IT company Telus, have successfully demonstrated a software solution that can handle these challenges. In a news release and video, the companies explain what’s behind Skylink:
The SKYLINK Business Solution is an integrated framework including UTM,
drones-optimized cellular connectivity and application back-end servers hosting environment,
Computer Vision and an operational concept, that allows for the use of multiple drones to efficiently
conduct infrastructure surveillance in the national airspace.
The demo is part of a broader assessment of technologies known as the Energy UTM Trials, or EUT. They were conducted in coordination with the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada and TC Energy. Canada’s federal regulator, Transport Canada and NAV Canada (which manages Canadian airspace and delivers air traffic services).
This video provides a pretty good look at the Skylink software capabilities: Everything from mission planning to airspace safety – even cellular coverage over the planned mission area – are included.
“Our focus is on real-world applications for the connected drone,” says Lindsay Mohr, CEO of
AirMarket. “This demo confirms our core capabilities, the business solution use case, and
the value of enterprise level UTM services.”
These missions are dispatched, controlled and monitored using the cellular network. And Telus, as a wireless carrier and IT company, sees the value in this synergy.
“Mobility services provide the foundation for enterprise drone use at scale,” says Ibrahim
Gedeon, CTO at TELUS.
“This is part of the growing demand for connectivity.”
There can be no doubt that drones operating at scale are a big part of the equation. Innovative software is a key part of that equation, in combination with a robust wireless backbone. As the release states:
Customized mobility services established by TELUS have been integrated with UTM and are being
prepared for national deployment. The event demonstrated how connected drones will provide
advanced business solutions through the use of Computer Vision on-board the drone and in the
edge cloud. This real-world demonstration showcased the combination of technologies and
operations that will provide automated infrastructure surveillance as part of EUT flight operations.
We look forward to reporting on next steps.
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