Iris Automation in large-scale drone collision avoidance deal

Iris Automation drone

Leading aviation collision avoidance tech company Iris Automation is teaming up with German drone services provider HHLA Sky in a project to develop an integrated system providing safe and efficient remote operation of multiple drones flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) missions in the world’s increasingly crowded skies.

The effort seeks to leverage the strengths the respective partners bring to the pairing. Generally speaking, it aims to combine the aircraft detection and avoidance capacities of Iris Automation’s Casia G technology with the centralized, end-to-end functionality of HHLA Sky’s drone control center software, which permits safe operation of over 100 enterprise drones flying BVLOS missions at once. 

“One-to-many operations are a key enabler to realizing the true economic potential of drones,” says Iris Automation CEO Jon Damush. “Doing it safely is critical to sustainability of the ecosystem. Automatic traffic awareness supports safe, scalable, commercial operations the HHLA Sky system is designed to unlock.”

The partners intend to provide that by combining their strongest points. That starts with the autonomous ground-based Casia G aircraft detection technology.

That Iris Automation computer vision system monitors aviation environments to detect, analyze, and when necessary alert drone operators to crewed aircraft in the vicinity representing a potential collision threat. In that manner, remote pilots and other mission team members can respond and avert danger. Just as critically, they’ll also be warned about the presence of nearing craft that aren’t equipped with transponders or automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast tech aboard transmitting their location, and which would otherwise represent unknown hazards.

Creating webs of Casia G nodes allows for that airspace surveillance over vast areas and infrastructure locations. 

Linked to that will be HHLA Sky’s drone control center, which the company describes as the first end-to-end platform for large-scale, industrial, and security BVLOS drone missions. 

That internet-of-things system connects and controls different UAV systems, and provides complete management, monitoring, and reporting of more than 100 connected drones at once. The unified, integrated control center, meanwhile, orchestrates those multiple flights remotely, meaning it could theoretically juggle safe operation of disparate missions flying anywhere in the world.

The partners say the combination of their services opens a wide spectrum of use cases for industrial and security drone operations worldwide. Included in those are surveillance of ports, critical infrastructures, borders, oil and gas facilities, and surveying and asset inspections. Drones using those paired capabilities will be able to transmit real-time video feeds to operators, and perform structured and repeatable data collection. The IoT platform is equipped with cyber security, and offers broad analysis and auditing capabilities.

Put together, the companies say, the Iris-HHLA Sky offer will provide fast and efficient performance of multiple enterprise drones flying BVLOS missions, and complete detection and collision avoidance safeguards when other craft approach.

“The ability of Casia G to detect non-cooperative air traffic and provide essential data to the HHLA Sky system, gives us the opportunity to add yet another crucial level of safety,” says Matthias Gronstedt, HHLA Sky’s CEO of research and development. “We are looking forward to offering a truly innovative but affordable BVLOS solution on an industrial scale. Iris Automation’s regulatory expertise and work with bodies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also provides an important added value for us and our partnership.”

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