New VR simulator for airspace traffic management to showcase skies of tomorrow

drone simulator airspace traffic management

Unified Traffic Management (UTM) technology provider Altitude Angel says it’s ready to unveil the next generation of simulation modeling, which puts the airspace manager at the very heart of the flight. This “first of its kind” simulator for airspace management shows drones and crewed aircraft sharing the same skies. It will premiere at the Airspace World industry expo, which is scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from March 8-10.

Altitude Angel is the company that is leading the development of the world’s largest and longest “drone superhighway” spanning 165 miles in the UK. The project, called Skyway, is being hailed as “the most ambitious transport project proposed for the UK since the advent of the railway network in the 18th century.”

The company’s new 3D simulator, which has been a year in the making, can be experienced through a virtual reality headset. Interestingly, it also utilizes the core technologies behind the Skyway drone superhighway – GuardianUTM platform and the ARROW ground-based DAA (Detect-and-Avoid) system.

The system fuses simulated scenarios with real-world airspace data in real-time to show what the future will look like when drones and crewed aircraft share the same skies safely and securely. For instance, the use case of a drone making a critical delivery between two UK hospitals has been used in the simulator.

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The company explains that before getting airborne in the simulator, passengers will have the ability to see a flight being planned and its operation submitted via the GuardianUTM platform Approval Services and Strategic Deconfliction functions. Once in flight, the simulated environment will fuse airspace data with real-time flight plans, managed by GuardianUTM, and perform real-time tactical deconfliction on simulated drones, just as it would in real life.

Those participating in the simulation will also get to choose the perspective from which they want to experience different scenarios, such as that of a delivery drone, as a pilot in an aircraft or a helicopter responding to an emergency, or as an uncrewed passenger taxi flying alongside a delivery drone.

Richard Parker, Altitude Angel, CEO and founder, stresses that it’s the first time that an immersive simulator is taking airspace managers out of the control tower and placing them right in the heart of the flight. “They’ll be able to look out of a cockpit window and see the tactical deconfliction of a drone flight in real-time or even experience the flight from the drone’s perspective,” explains Parker.

“The experience will also give airspace regulators a unique opportunity to see and understand what tomorrow’s skies will look like, which we hope will allow them to realize what can be achieved within current regulation as well as help inform and shape future regulation.”

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