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The Military

Air Force Wants Technology That Will Let Drones Sense and Avoid Other Aircraft 148

coondoggie writes "With an eye toward letting drones share the nation's common airspace, the Air Force has set out to find the technology that will let unmanned aircraft sense and avoid other airplanes in flight. The ability to sense and avoid — common on all manned aircraft that fly the national airspace — is one of the trickier issues for drones which do not support such technology. It will be a major hurdle to jump as drone vendors and others press for common drone access to national airspace."
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Air Force Wants Technology That Will Let Drones Sense and Avoid Other Aircraft

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  • It is that easy? and a good script to read the output

    • Re:A radar? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stewsters ( 1406737 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @04:31PM (#44927709)
      That would seem the obvious answer for civilian areas. I am wondering if there are power, weight or stealth requirements that radar doesn't fit. I would guess a stealth attack drone that you send it to shoot down their fighters would both need to be quite and be able to sense other aircraft. "Avoid" might be switched to "intercept" in the article title.
      • "That would seem the obvious answer for civilian areas. I am wondering if there are power, weight or stealth requirements that radar doesn't fit. I would guess a stealth attack drone that you send it to shoot down their fighters would both need to be quite and be able to sense other aircraft. 'Avoid' might be switched to 'intercept' in the article title."

        I would guess that radar stealth techniques, if not already applied to missiles, soon will be.

        But for "non-stealthed" craft, I would imagine that this would have many civilian uses. After all, until aircraft can reliably locate and avoid other craft automatically, few people will have "flying cars".

      • I know: A pilot!

      • Radar is not used for that. Civilian and military planes use transponders for that.
    • Radar is actually physically bulky when used for precise detection. Visual recognition algorithms might be more aerodynamic.

      Who knows what technologies the military actually has available, though.

      • Visual recognition would be a fun approach to research. The trick with visual is to not only have presence detection for a potential collision subject, but also get data as to position and rates of motion so you have an idea not only of where it, but where it will be by the time you get closer to it. That's why a transponder approach is more practical in my opinion.
      • Neither would be more aerodynamic, since either can be placed behind a transparent-to-the-appropriate-frequencies fairing.
      • lolwut. Have you ever been in an airplane? Have you ever looked outside while in said airplane? If you said 'no' to either of these questions, you aren't qualified to make recommendations to the Air Force or FAA. I answered 'yes' to both of these questions, and have observed on many occasions that clouds are quite opaque, and would defeat any 'visual recognition algorithm'.
        • That is in the VISIBLE light spectrum. In other spectrum, you would pick up images even with the clouds. Personally, I am wondering if a drone flying on its own would be fine, esp. using enemy radar against others. Likewise, add in the ability for drone's to talk to each other and notify themselves of where they are at, and perhaps picking up other crafts.
        • Especially at night.
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Radar means no more stealth - drones are built to be stealthy. It's supposed to be "covert" surveillance. And radar means you need a lot of power, which means mass to generate that power, which means you need a bigger engine and a bigger airframe, etc etc etc.
      • Military drones may be built to be stealthy, but I don't see why publicly-owned ones (or ones owned by members of the public) wouldn't want to avoid aircraft. With that said, how many drones fly as high as regular aircraft? Certainly, there's a conceivable risk of them colliding during landing or takeoff but a seemingly simple solution to that would be to just ban them from being used near airports.

        Don't aircraft already carry some kind of transponder that drones could be programmed to avoid if the signal g

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You seem to think all aircraft fly above 30,000 feet. GA fliers spend a great deal of tine between 1,000 and 10,000 AGL. These fliers generally are flying under VFR (visual flight rules) where they are expected to see and avoid other aircraft visually.

          If drones occupy this same airspace without avoidance technology there will be issues.

          • Re: A radar? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by sabri ( 584428 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @05:34PM (#44928363)

            You seem to think all aircraft fly above 30,000 feet. GA fliers spend a great deal of tine between 1,000 and 10,000 AGL. These fliers generally are flying under VFR (visual flight rules) where they are expected to see and avoid other aircraft visually.

            You are right. However, a lot of airspace requires, and a lot of airplanes have, transponders. With the roll-out of ADS-B, all aircraft will be visible in the future.

            When I fly GA, I have a little device called a PCAS in my cockpit. It passively monitors the transponders from other aircraft and will alert me if someone is nearby. This is a very light weight piece of technology, about the size of my cellphone. Easy to use in a drone...

            • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

              You are assuming that every other pilot is as responsible as you, and setting his transponder properly. What about a drone pilot who, due to budget cuts, doesn't even know what a transponder is except for another line in a checklist, and doesn't really care because it's not like HE is sitting in the aircraft. Worst that can happen to him is he gets fired, right? Didn't want that stupid $12/hr job anyway...

              No, I think relying on "transponders" is a bad, bad idea. Either drones get their own airspace/altitu

              • by sabri ( 584428 )

                What about a drone pilot who doesn't even know what a transponder is

                Well... They should not be piloting an aircraft anyway. I agree with you that relying on transponders is a bad idea, but the main point of my argument was to counter the thought that "detection equipment" would be too bulky or expensive. I was trying to point out that for a few hundred dollars and less than 12oz of weight, one can have a relatively reliable detection mechanism.

                In the real world, I do realize that my PCAS has limits. It doesn't protect me against aircraft without a transponder, and I've s

              • The drone pilot doesn't have a choice, his transponder is hard wired on when the aircraft is powered. After 9/11 turning off transponders is not so much an option anymore. All so, even in IFR flight, you ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR FOLLOWING VFR RULES TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY GIVEN VISIBILITY.

                You'll still fail your IFR check ride if its 0 visibility and you keep your head down on the dash the entire time you're flying.

                • by sabri ( 584428 )

                  You'll still fail your IFR check ride if its 0 visibility and you keep your head down on the dash the entire time you're flying.

                  As someone currently training towards an IFR rating, thanks for that tip :-)

            • Hmmm. Been awhile since I have been flying. Did not know about the PCAS. Nice.
          • I didn't think anything, I was asking a question; that's what the squiggly thing at the end of the sentence signifies.
      • directional radar is possible. Likewise, with the detectors in place, it might be able to make use of other's radar signals to see crafts. Personally, I think that a fleet of drones that communicate would make good sense.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      it's friggin expensive.

      might be doable for something like global hawk(which already uses radar for ground surveillance and no doubt can avoid other planes with data from awacs).

      but global hawk is friggin 130millin+ per unit.

      • it's friggin expensive.

        might be doable for something like global hawk(which already uses radar for ground surveillance and no doubt can avoid other planes with data from awacs).

        but global hawk is friggin 130millin+ per unit.

        A piece of string is friggin long...

        There are radars in virtually all price ranges. There are cars with radar. I'm sure they can design a unit that makes sense for a drone.

    • Re:A radar? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @04:50PM (#44927917)

      It is that easy? and a good script to read the output

      I can't see a single reason for the Air Force to be flying stealth drones in US airspace.
      So putting radars on them makes sense.

      For combat use, having an active radar can be come a liability, especially if you are on stealth air-to-ground missions.
      For future air-to-air combat use, you probably need the radar anyway.

      Customs and Boarder Patrol drones were equipped with GA-ASI's Lynx synthetic aperture radar, but that is almost certainly
      designed for ground observation, and not aircraft avoidance.

      The weight and size penalty can't be the only thing the Air Force is worried about. They must be resisting reliance on radars
      mostly from the stealth perspective. Why would they need their drones to be stealthy over US territory?

      • I can't see a single reason for the Air Force to be flying stealth drones in US airspace.

        Really? Not even for pilot training? Not even for equipment validation? What about air shows? Demonstration flights? Wargames?

        Your imagination needs a workout, I think.

        • by icebike ( 68054 )

          I can't see a single reason for the Air Force to be flying stealth drones in US airspace.

          Really? Not even for pilot training? Not even for equipment validation? What about air shows? Demonstration flights? Wargames?

          Your imagination needs a workout, I think.

          Which one of the things you have listed require them to be stealth?
          They can carry Transponders and Active Radars for those activities.

          • Which one of the things you have listed require them to be stealth?

            Let's see. Pilot training. Equipment validation. Wargames. Besides, stealth is more than just not having active transponders and radars. Stealth is also built into the airframe, in terms of materials used, reflection angles, etc.

            • by icebike ( 68054 )

              Nope:
              None of those activities require the aircraft to be INTENTIONALLY NOT showing a big electronic signature.
              Even war games are flown with transponders on.

              Stealth in an air frame is TOTALLY overcome by a transponder or an active radar.

              Again, I state, there is no reason the US Air Force (or anybody else) needs to fly in stealth mode over the US in peace time.
              Not a manned craft, and certainly not an unmanned craft.

              • You better tell the folks at Edwards Air Force Base that they shouldn't be testing stealth drones [foxnews.com] there, then. Oh, and maybe you should shoot an email over to Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks complaining about the RQ-170 Sentinal [wikipedia.org] development. And I suppose the folks at White Sands Missile base should be chastised for testing the new stealth cruise missile in US skies.

                Bottom line: The Air Force is not going to test stealth technologies or anti-stealth technologies in foreign airspace, and they're certainly
                • by icebike ( 68054 )

                  The Air Force doesn't test Navy Drones.
                  Edwards is closed air space.
                  All testing by Lockheed carried transponders until they were in closed air space.
                  White Sands is closed air space.

                  So four for four, you're just wrong on all points.

        • With the exception of air shows, the Air Force can do all of that today. They have big controlled air spaces were civilian craft are not allowed so being able to avoid other aircraft is not a big issue. No, these rules are for civilian drones.

          • Darn – I just remembered a big expectation and need to retract my prior statement – disasters. At one point during Katarina people wanted to put up drones to help spot issues but could not because the drone might run into a helicopter or something.

            • Just off the top of my head, why not just restrict drones to specific altitudes. For example, (All numbers mad up on the spot.) drones are restricted to 300Ft. and piloted aircraft are not allowed to fly at that altitude. Obviously they would still be allowed to pass through, but it would greatly reduce the possibility of a mid-air collision.
              Simple effective, and cheep. It will never happen.
          • I think the issue is that the military drones can't LEAVE military airspace currently, so to get them out into civilian airspace (for whatever reason) requires following the FAA rules.
      • Yes, but, assume a flock of drones go in. During a fight, it might be useful to have several that have active radar and can then send the information to the others. Likewise, the others can have sensors to pick up the radar scatter and then cross send the information.
    • It is that easy? and a good script to read the output

      Or just give all aircrafts a very large negative charge and let Coulomb do the heavy lifting. ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's actually even easier. It's called a TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System). Most large commercial aircraft already have it equipped. It's small enough to equip on a cessna, and only relies on receiving the transponder hits from other aircraft.

      In laymans terms, when the big ATC radar on the ground detects the various planes in the sky, said planes respond with a transponder code which includes their airspeed and altitude. The TCAS listens for those transponder responses and does a quick bit of di

    • Use the heat seeker off of a sidewider and wire the outputs in reverse -so that 'steer toward the target' becomes 'steer the other way'. But then there is the sun... Anyway, dibs on the patent!!!
  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @04:27PM (#44927667)
    Why don't they invent technology that lets plane sense and avoid drones?
  • ....it would probably be cleaver enough to also hit another aircraft. All they would need to do is change an equals to a not equals.

  • Strange (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday September 23, 2013 @04:32PM (#44927719)
    Defense contractors: But boss, I don't understand. We've been working 30 years and we've spent 100 billion dollars to get this thing to home in and hit any target you designate with a high probability, and now you want us to design one that does exactly the opposite? I suppose I could point you to one of our earlier test models...
  • My units cost about $2 million each with about $100K maintenance annually, however maintenance facilities can range from 1-3K sq ft each. Throw in a about $500K for an ejection system to salvage my units in case of an emergency, you're looking at $2.5M up front per drone.

    I call my prototype a PIE LOOT.

  • Working on it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @04:46PM (#44927871)

    I'm a guy who's been in the electronics and software industry for over 40 years and have a very strong background in RF, digital and analog systems.

    I recently started putting that expertise to work in an attempt to come up with an effective and affordable "Sense And Avoid" (SAA) system -- at least in part because I fly FPV RC model aircraft and for these to be flown safely "beyond visual line of sight", some form of SAA is required.

    After spending a considerable amount of time investigating previous strategies and considering the strengths and weaknesses of the available technologies, I have designed and prototyped a system that delivers a 1-mile "sphere of awareness" around any craft on which it is installed.

    It does not rely on transponders (thus will "sense" *any* potential threat within that 1-mile sphere) and is small/light (250g) enough to be fitted to all but the smallest unmanned craft. The price (in volume production) would also be very reasonable -- about US$250.

    Initial (ground-based, static) testing has shown that the prototype system conforms very closely to the design goals and expectations -- the next step is to strap a second prototype to a small foam RC model plane and start collecting dynamic data which will be used to test and refine the firmware.

    Unfortunately -- this is where everything turns to custard.

    The national airspace administrator here in New Zealand is CAA (our equivalent of the USA's FAA). They, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that since what I'm working on has significant commercial potential, I can not continue my development work (ie: strap this thing to a small foam RC model and fly it over a grassy paddock in the countryside) without first gaining a "commercial operating authority".

    Now I've been flying RC models for almost 50 years and have a very high level of skill. Hell, I have two very popular YouTube channels with a total of over 45 million views and 100K subscribers in which I entertain and inform folks on the subject of RC models. However, all this counts for nothing and, according to CAA, if I want to continue my development of this technology by strapping it (as a passive payload) to the type of small foam model that thousands of folk fly here every weekend, I must jump a raft of ridiculous hurdles.

    Firstly, the "minimum requirement" is a full-sized pilot's license -- which costs about $18K to obtain in this country.

    Secondly, I have to file all sorts of safety plans, obtain a radio qualification and engage in a huge amount of bureaucratic crap -- simply to do what I've done as a hobbyist for decades -- fly a tiny (900g) foam RC plane over a grassy field in the countryside.

    Now I don't have $18K to spend getting a pilot's license, besides which, this is silly bureaucratic nonsense!

    As a result, the technology which I've developed and which stands to be a real "game changer" with massive export/earnings potential for this tiny nation that keeps crowing about its "innovative tech sector" is becalmed because some idiot desk-jockies seem to think that somehow, simply because what I'm doing has commercial potential, any RC flying I do will result in widespread death and destruction -- unless I spend months filling in forms, learning to fly a full-sized plane and licking boots.

    This, my friends, is why New Zealand barely qualifies as a first-world country and will *never* play any significant role in the tech world.

    Meanwhile, the same country spends $1m of taxpayers' money on something as lame and dangerous as the Martin Jetpack.

    Go figure!

    Those who ask "why not just find a quiet spot and test it anyway without telling anyone?"... well CAA have advised me that if I dare to do this without the required "authority", they will take "enforcement action" against me. So, if I turn around and say "I've tested it and it works" then it's "do not collect $200, do not pass go, go directly to jail".

    And for those who ask "if this technology works as well as you say, why not get

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Care to give us a hint as to how it works? 1 mile in all directions without transponders is pretty impressive. The obvious solution would be some kind of radar, but all in a package weighing only 250g? Also, active radar wouldn't be much use on a stealthy drone.

      If your invention really is capable of what you claim it is then getting some investment and a commercial testing license shouldn't be an issue.

      • Care to give us a hint as to how it works? 1 mile in all directions without transponders is pretty impressive. The obvious solution would be some kind of radar, but all in a package weighing only 250g? Also, active radar wouldn't be much use on a stealthy drone.

        If your invention really is capable of what you claim it is then getting some investment and a commercial testing license shouldn't be an issue.

        Obviously I'm not about to give too much away -- suffice to say that it is an active system which operates below the RF noise floor and has two elements to the sense component (not visual or audio though).

        You are right that conventional radar is too heavy and too power-hungry for this type of application.

        Suffice to say that this approach to SAA would not be possible without some serious (and compact/low-energy) processing power, only made possible by the advances of recent years.

        • You claim it's not a transponder, but admit it's an active system, so that implies some sort of RF transmitter -- which opens up the question of spectrum access.

          You claim that it operates below the RF floor. That implies it knows the signal it should be looking for, otherwise there's some fancy DSP footwork going on that smells like the wrong end of a cow in the size and weight you're talking about, particularly if you include the power and antenna setup for a transceiver, and still have the range you're t

          • Yes, I have spent a lot of time around these sort of systems.

            Testing on a bike is fine -- in a 2D environment and a degree of that testing has already been done -- to verify the concept and the first-level implementation.

            What's needed now is some real-world testing in a 3D environment so that the firmware can be refined to provide the desired level of performance and its effectiveness can be validated.

            Obviously I'm not giving the full story as to the mechanisms involved but suffice to say that the system pr

    • What about taking your equipment to another country without restrictive rules and regulations which would allow you to do the testing? Although that would probably be expensive - if you had any friends in foreign countries you could ask them for help but you'd have to really trust them I suppose.

      Bureaucracy is a bitch.
      • I don't have a lot of cash, what I do have is the knowledge, skill and experience to do this project.

        Besides, why the hell should an organisation charged with the responsibility of keeping the airspace *safe* be placing so many hurdles in the way of a project that is designed to do just that?

        It's not like I'm planning on flying a big heavy drone over a built-up area or flying in controlled airspace. It is the fact that somehow, because an RC plane has something with commercial potential strapped to it the

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Seriously,
          You're too damn good to follow the rules. That's your problem. You think that the rules shouldn't apply to you because you're smarter than them. Really? You're smarter than 50 years of experience well studied and codified? You're so damn good that you can go fly your airplane without the same training that everybody else who shares the airspace has? You're embody the real problem with drones; people who don't want to pay for safety. It's $18K for a pilots license. Learn how to fly safely. Or, take

          • The rules sir, are an ass.

            Please explain how the fact that their *might* be a commercial result to my flying an RC model should somehow make the risks associated with that flying so great as to require a full-sized pilot's license and a raft of other compliance hurdles to be negotiated -- while at the same time people with far less skill/experience are crashing their RC models in parks all over the country on a weekend?

            Did you even read what I posted?

            Unless your children are tresspassing and illegally stand

        • Besides, why the hell should an organisation charged with the responsibility of keeping the airspace *safe* be placing so many hurdles in the way of a project that is designed to do just that?

          Because lots of people claim ridiculous shit all the time, and without the actual knowledge of a pilot and the regulations related to such as well as UNDERSTANDING why those regulations exist, you will most certainly fuck up many things that we already know how to avoid.

          Its not just your airplanes in the sky asshole. THATS why you are being restricted. You've not done a single thing they ask you to do, and you think you know better than they do about what should be done. How can you possibly make that cl

          • Sorry, but you are wrong on just about every point.

            And, as I've always claimed, intelligence is inversely proportional to one's propensity to engage in profanity.

            I guess you're also talking about all the other people who fly RC models all around the world -- since that's *exactly* what I'm trying to do here.

            And, for the record, I've been involved in aviation for decades. I spent many year servicing avionics and provide consulting services to several local aviation companies.

            You should check your facts befo

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      The national airspace administrator here in New Zealand is CAA (our equivalent of the USA's FAA). They, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that since what I'm working on has significant commercial potential, I can not continue my development work (ie: strap this thing to a small foam RC model and fly it over a grassy paddock in the countryside) without first gaining a "commercial operating authority".

      Now I've been flying RC models for almost 50 years and have a very high level of skill. Hell, I have two

      • Though if you're under 400', it's pretty much open season And yes, the US and Canada have some of the loosest air regulations around - it's generally a lot tighter and a lot more expensive to fly anywhere else in the world.

        Neither of which all you to fly an unmanned aircraft beyond visual line of sight regardless of altitude without specially obtained waivers, of which almost NONE have been granted to random civilians. Without radio control? Not going to happen. That includes autonomous flight. If you want to do any of that, you've almost certainly got a connection to the military in order to get the require permissions.

        Do you really think its a great idea to let any random fuck put an aircraft in the air without seeing w

    • I don't need investors

      Yes, you do.

      I have enough money to continue the development and testing

      No. You don't. Not with the current rules.

      Get a partner. Two examples are particularly notable for being mentioned elsewhere on this page: The US Air Force, and Tesla. Save your disgust at the bureaucracy for some other time.

    • Can you test on a kite?

    • by Saffaya ( 702234 )

      Have you thought about going to neighbouring Australia for testing purposes ?
      They have lots of (air)space and maybe their AA isn't as boneheaded ?

      New Caledonia isn't far either and also has an RC community, as well as open spaces.

    • If your hardware/software works as you claim, finding funding needed to continue your research would be absolutely trivial.

      Have you even looked?

      It isn't bureaucratic nonsense. I fly R/C as well as hold an expired pilot license. Just because you've flown R/C for 40 years doesn't mean you actually understand how general aviation works. I meet old guys at the field every weekend that have no fucking clue that they can't launch an aircraft to several thousand feet because we're only a few miles off the end o

      • I don't want to take investors on at this stage because the "cost" of that money would be too high.

        As someone who's successfully been through the process many times, I know that the cost of investment capital falls significantly as you move towards commercialisation. Besides, I don't need money -- all I need are a bunch of idiot bureaucrats to admit that there is *no* real difference between flying an RC plane over a grassy field in the country and flying the same an RC plane with a 250g payload over the s

  • Keep drones out of U.S. airspace. If this is done, there can be no crashes of drones into manned aircraft. As a no-cost benefit, the government won't be able to use drones to spy on citizens.
    • Because, you know, only the United States has manned aircraft in its airspace.

      Or maybe you don't really care if those airliners are full of brown people?

      The US may blow people up with remote-controlled death, but only on purpose. Not because the expensive drone blundered in from of a crowded A300.

      When we shoot down Iranian Airbuses, we do it with missiles, not recon drones.

      • Because, you know, only the United States has manned aircraft in its airspace. Or maybe you don't really care if those airliners are full of brown people?

        Wow, where did all this uncalled for hatred come from? If you had bothered to read the article, you would have noticed it is US-centric and mentioned US-based groups such as US Army, DHS, DOD, FAA, GAO, MITRE, NASA, NAS, USAF, and possibly others.

        I can only vote for US representatives and congressmen and will only vote for those who are against th
  • So, basically TCAS? Add the required responder to the drone and the TCAS implementation and it'll know where all other nearby planes/drones are as well as when one is on a collision course.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_collision_avoidance_system [wikipedia.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      TCAS relies on transponders in other aircraft. It's right there at the bottom of the page you cited:

      TCAS requires that both conflicting aircraft have transponders. If one aircraft doesn't have a transponder, then it will not alert TCAS as there is no information being transmitted.

      While every airliner is going to have a transponder, transponders are not required in GA aircraft while operating under VFR outside of or below Class C airspace, outside of a Class B Mode C area, and below 10,000' MSL...which, in short, is where I would expect to find drone aircraft, but I wouldn't expect to find a whole lot of airliners. Now, of course, most GA aircraft have (operable) transponders, but th

    • Currently TCAS is an active aircraft detection system - it has to send out signals and get replies from other aircraft's transponders (Mode C or Mode S). Then it figures out where they are. It can figure out avoidance maneuvers, for itself, and coordinate those maneuvers with other TCAS equipped aircraft. It's very expensive and heavy. At one time there was talk about having TCAS passively listening to ADSB [wikipedia.org] replies, containing accurate location information, from Mode S transponders on other aircraft. T
  • The technology has been in use since the 50's. How hard can it be to replace the robotic voice with a signal to the drone's navigation system?
    • by Hobadee ( 787558 )

      Voice recognition technology is still poor. When the TCAS system says "TCAS Alert! Traffic! Descend! Descend!" you need to be CERTAIN that the drone will analyze that correctly and actually descend, instead of responding "I think you said 'Check my balance'. Is that correct?"

  • It's just not mature yet for a broad solution. Some have achieved for a single platform, in a specific scenario, but it's really the first iteration before a solution can be applied in an environment like the national airspace. This is being worked on in both strategic level systems like the GlobalHawk and tactical levels like the Shadow and FireScout, and solutions range from ADS-B transponders, to active LIDAR.

    FTA:

    Given the results of Research and Development efforts over the past few years, it is now possible to equip [a drone] with technology that will address some of the major requirements currently driving the FAA authorization process.

    The transponder route seems to be the lowest-hanging fruit at the time.The FAA will have

  • They "want" this technology?

    You mean we currently have drones flying around, many of them outside of active warzones and over US cities, that *don't* currently have the availability to detect and avoid other aircraft??

    • by scsirob ( 246572 )

      Yes, that's how it works today. Drones have no awareness of surrounding aircraft.

      For legal, official drone flights the fix is to write a NOTAM which basically means that pilots of manned aircraft get a piece of paper with coordinates that they need to stay away from.

      For less legal flights I'm pretty sure the government will just take their chances. Because obviously this is for the greater good, to catch the turrrrists..

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In August 2011 there was a midair between those aircraft. Thankfully no one died. Anyone know how that happened? Hopefully whatever solution is being proposed would have prevented that.

  • The ability to sense and avoid — common on all manned aircraft that fly the national airspace — is one of the trickier issues for drones which do not support such technology.

    It's common all manned aircraft? But you can't stick the same thing in a drone? Why not, exactly?

  • Radar is commonly use for this function ;]
  • How many years have drones been flying for DoD? And they are just now getting around to thinking about how to avoid other aircraft? Is that "air superiority" or "air-rogance" or just stupidity?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Since at least 1916. Did you knw that Norma Rae (Marilyn Monroe) was working in a WW-II drone factory when she was discovered.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmanned_aerial_vehicle

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_Monroe#Early_work:_1945.E2.80.931947

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