I wonder if it is a practical idea to integrate air traffic data with all the other data we track in the GCS and the OSD. Data seems to be available. I don't see a complete solution in hand but some pieces are there., It looks like there is a growing standard for position reporting (ADS-B) and you can buy a receiver that will allow you to track air traffic in the area. This will only track aircraft that are equipped with ADS-B, but that is in growing numbers and  is more prevalent in Europe.  There is other data available too, from the FAA, that covers aircraft based on Radar and transponders (I think)  for that data there is a 5 min delay that limits its usefulness.

Pictured above is a nifty item, reminds me of the 3DR radios!

This is an example of a receiver that can be connected to a laptop and display a map of local traffic. I'm sure it could easily be hacked and the data turned into waypoints.

There are several networks and software available to allow you to contribute data as well as receive data even if you do not have a receiver.  This can work similar to how the findu.com network works for hams using APRS.  To me, this seems to be a next logical step for hobbyists who are using altitudes higher than a few hundred feet.

I wonder if the drone community as a hold has an interest and see it as being practical as something that could increase safety, or is this a "dude" idea?

If you would like to learn more, here are a few links i found: 




Views: 1777

Comment by james sowell on February 3, 2013 at 7:07pm

good eye

Comment by Martin Bellomo on February 3, 2013 at 9:31pm

Interesting, i usually use plane altitudes, this info could be usefull in the MP, making prediction of possible colissions or just warning for proximity.

Comment by Darren on February 3, 2013 at 9:56pm

Yes, exactly that kind of system is what we need. A Widly Used, Passive/Active beacon-ish thingy. One that can broadcast valuable info to existing ATC systems, enhancing our safety, along with those of larger aerial platforms.

Given enough data it can predict things to come, like collisions.

A system such as is AIS for Maritime Traffic. brodcasting Airborne vessal info, but on a Non-Military channel; if you will...Along with filing flight plans, and/or local ATC/Ground interaction. This could work very nicely to assist us in NAS interactions.

Remember: There are No; No's, Only Stipulations... Given all things are equal, there is no place like home. :)

Comment by Gary Mortimer on February 3, 2013 at 10:25pm

As you are flying VLOS below 400` you should see the traffic easily. Doing this is a thought but of course having your aircraft transmitting is what should happen. This would perhaps require an approved installation.

Also integration of ADSB is going fairly well in Europe but has big opposition from small aircraft owners in the USA. So you would be taking avoiding action on airframes in the airways system mostly.

Just calling a system a hobby system does not remove you from responsibility. UA drivers are just as liable as their manned counterparts. The change in airframe definition ensured that a couple of years ago.

ADSB is probably part of the future along with vision based collision detection.

Don't expect to be flying BLOS without certification at some level ever though.

Comment by Joshua Ott on February 3, 2013 at 10:56pm

I've always thought this would be part of the integration solution.

Even if it's just so atypical low level traffic like: air ambulance, military, crop duster, powerline inspection, etc could broadcast an electronic siren ahead of them. Any UA would know to get on the ground ASAP. 

Not to mention getting warnings about ground based hazards: towers, lines, etc.

Plus, there is weather data broadcast over ADS-B, that's always useful for any pilot. 

Comment by Jonathan Price on February 4, 2013 at 1:05am

Good post. Chris Anderson talked about this idea in an interview a while ago (on All Things that Fly, I think) and implied 3DR was working up a solution for this. Maybe this post will get things moving.

I've collected some information that may help anyone interested in this:

  • Next Generation Air Transportation System - The FAA's plan to eventually replace the current radar and air traffic control systems. ADS-B is not the only component that would be helpful to drones.
  • What is ADS-B? - An overview of ADS-B from a manufacturer of the hardware.
  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) - An overview of ADS-B by the FAA.
  • UAT Specification (PDF) - Low-level details of the UAT protocol used by ADS-B.
  • FlightRadar24 - This was in the post, but I wanted to mention that this site has excellent tutorials on setting up ADS-B monitoring and also has mashups of live ADS-B data with time-delayed FAA radar data. Interesting and useful just for the ability to learn the model numbers of the planes that are flying over your house.

It should be noted that the worldwide standard for ADS-B only applies to jetliners, so it may not prevent collisions with the traffic that drones are likely to be flying with.  Hopefully this situation will improve in the future.

Tech note: To ensure maximum range, the data rate of the primary ADS-B channel must be relatively slow; too slow to accommodate weather maps or (if the FAA is to be believed) tracking data for every small plane in the sky.  To work around this limitation the U.S. has allocated a separate higher-bandwidth ADS-B frequency for smaller domestic aircraft which also offers weather data and several other helpful services. This is the ADS-B service that drones will probably need to interface with (at least in the U.S.) but unfortunately the micro ADS-B receiver mentioned in the post and all the others I've found so far are tuned to the jetliner channel, and there are no R/C-sized transmitters for any frequency available at all.

The good news for [full scale] unmanned flight is that part of the FAA's Next Generation plan includes replacing the current ATC communication system with something resembling formatted text messages, which would enable a craft to make ATC requests and comply with ATC commands autonomously. This brings drones one step closer to sharing airspace and airports with manned flight.

Comment by Tilman Baumann on February 4, 2013 at 4:01am

I have so many Airports near me that I have to expect low flying jets at all time. I regularly use a mobile app that shows me local traffic so that I don't get surprised.

I still fly lower than those guys. But some came in quite low already and it scares the hell out of me. I'd rather get out of their way all together.

In fact I tend to fly UAV mode barely over treetop level to be sure. But you can't do that with RC planes.

Having that in my mission planner and with some collision avoidance system would make me sweat much less.

Great idea.

Where can I actually find information about approach corridors and and height restrictions for airports? I'm sure that is public somewhere. (I'm concerned about Farnborough Airport UK)

Comment by Bertrand Duchiron on February 4, 2013 at 4:37am

For those using the beaglebone there is a cape (a shield) for ADSB the radarcape http://circuitco.com/support/index.php?title=Radarcape

Comment by Peter Meister on February 4, 2013 at 11:36am

It would be great to include this data active into Mission Planner. I run flightradar24 on my tablet while I fly - I have a premium account and the interface and apps for it are extensive.

Comment by Armin Strobel on February 4, 2013 at 2:37pm


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