The latest on sense-and-avoid: technology is closer than the regulations

Good overview on sense-and-avoid tech from GCN:

Some excerpts:

ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) transponders not only broadcast aircraft location in real time, they also deliver information on altitude and velocity. What's more, they can deliver data on other aircraft, weather and terrain to the vehicle that is carrying them. In fact, ADS-B transponders will replace radar as the primary technology for tracking air traffic,  and the FAA will require the majority of aircraft operating in U.S. airspace to be equipped with ADS-B by Jan. 1, 2020.

Using ADS-B transponders on many UAVs was infeasible until recently, when Sagetech Corp., an avionics company based in White Salmon, Wash., developed one that weighed only 3.5 ounces.


One of the most ambitious civilian efforts under way to develop an integrated system for UAVs is the Mid-Air Collision Avoidance System (MIDCAS), which is being developed by five European countries — Sweden, Germany, France, Italy and Spain — and 11 industrial partners.

The four-year, $65 million project is expected by 2014 to deliver an automated sense-and-avoid system that will not depend on transponders. While it is being designed to integrate ADS-B, MIDCAS also includes two visible-band electro-optical cameras and one infrared camera for aircraft to use in identifying other aircraft. In addition, the team's developers are designing image-processing algorithms, processing units and integration with on-board avionics.

A key point is in the last paragraph:

"The real challenge is not technological," Glenn said. "The real challenge is regulatory acceptance. I think we're close enough. The key is that we are able to be as good as manned aviation. So the issue is how to get federal aviation authorities around the world to get their minds around it."

According to Glenn, if government regulatory agencies would specify the performance standards UAVs need to meet, he can design appropriate equipment. "You tell me what the requirement is, and I will build it," he said. 

Pellebergs agrees. "No one really knows what the requirements are for sense-and-avoid for UASes in civilian airspace, so we need to get a set of standards in place," he said. "I think that's what's holding up a lot of the progress in this area."

Unfortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration declined our requests for comment.

Views: 3659

Comment by UAS_Pilot on July 18, 2013 at 6:54pm
I want to know when the sagetech xponder will be plug and play with the apm?
Comment by Andrew Rabbitt on July 18, 2013 at 6:56pm

I reckon binocular vision systems operating in the IR band might deliver useful non-transponder sense-and-avoid.  Something like that which Mercedes Benz has experimented with and demonstrated and I blogged about earlier

Comment by Gary McCray on July 18, 2013 at 7:27pm

I'm afraid the FAA's entire stance on non government UAVs is a delaying tactic.

Once they say anything, whatever happens then lands on them and they don't come close to having the manpower to cover it.

I am pretty sure that is their perception anyway.

As far as the FAA is concerned there is no upside.

Comment by Randy on July 18, 2013 at 11:20pm

3.5 ounces is 108g according to so far less than even a small battery.  Small enough to put on all but the smallest quadcopters.  Of course, it'll probably cost more than the quadcopter until the open source community makes their own version.  Still, great news!

Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 18, 2013 at 11:44pm

I have seen MIDCAS in action, it was jaw droppingly good tracking birds lifting from fields even. It spotted aircraft miles out and at the talk I went to it was being said that all manned aircraft should be fitted with it. They should see us and get out of the way then. I believe it was also said that the noise of seeing every bird, plane and car truck bus train was an issue.

Don't forget the FAA are now deciding how to handle privacy and then once they announce that it will be a year before the integration process is restarted. It is currently halted.

Comment by Morli on July 19, 2013 at 5:47am

I can receive/decode ADSB signal using 15 $ dongle and see a/c as far as 220k.m now by using diy colinear antenna.

Saw a blog for using the same with rasbery Pi on a quad. If some one develops code for using this data in APM or any Diy UAV AP code to sense other a/c and avoid direct conflict if within 5 Mile zone , I will be happy to test fly it( not that there are too many a/c flying over my head below 25k' ).

Comment by Daniel Rincon on July 19, 2013 at 9:27am

Guys take a look on there is a product on collision avoidance small enough to be used on autonomous flight and is designated as PCAS, which stands for Portable Collision Avoidance System, this technology is similar in function to TCAS (Traffic and Collision Avoidance System) 

Comment by Gary Hunkin on July 19, 2013 at 11:21am

It can be easily done with doppler radar modules that cost $10.

Comment by Morli on July 19, 2013 at 12:16pm


Link pls for the doppler radar modules that cost $10. Thanks.

Comment by Morli on July 19, 2013 at 12:22pm


This one is bit smaller( almost like a Motorola pager) and stand alone, have used it and it works. However I don't remember it having external interface.


You need to be a member of DIY Drones to add comments!

Join DIY Drones

© 2020   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service