US AFRL and Ohio UAS Center to test drone detection technology

Hemanth Kumar and Talal Husseini 30 April 2019 (Last Updated April 30th, 2019 15:17)

The Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center and the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) are set to start testing the SkyVision drone detection technology after receiving regulatory approval earlier this month.

US AFRL and Ohio UAS Center to test drone detection technology
FAA validated the new aviation technology and granted a certificate of authorisation to test defence-related drone technology. Credit: Business Wire.

The Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center and the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) are set to start testing the SkyVision drone detection technology after receiving regulatory approval earlier this month.

The announcement was made by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and AFRL commander Major General William Cooley at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

SkyVision was developed in collaboratively between the AFRL and the State of Ohio. It serves as an air traffic control system for drones.

Cooley said: “This is an important development in the progression of unmanned aircraft. This waiver provides the latitude to test beyond-line-of-sight keeping the AFRL on the leading edge of world-class research and accelerates the delivery of technology that makes a difference to the warfighter.”

SkyVision can safely, accurately, and effectively allow unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to detect and avoid other aircraft while in flight, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) validated.

Drones are typically only allowed to fly within the uninterrupted line of sight of the person operating the UAS.

The FAA validated the aviation technology and granted the AFRL a certificate of authorisation to test defence-related drone technology.

The AFRL is required to perform testing without dependence on a visual observer or chase aircraft.

“This waiver provides the latitude to test beyond-line-of-sight keeping the AFRL on the leading edge of world-class research."

The FAA authorisation secured by the AFRL and the Ohio UAS Center will enable researchers to use SkyVision to test drones beyond the visual line of sight near the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

Testing of the drone detection technology will be permitted within a 200 square mile area of unrestricted airspace near the airport.

Ohio Governor DeWine said: “As our country steps more and more into the unmanned age of flight, this technology is on the forefront of the aviation frontier, making Ohio a critical national asset for the research and development of UAS technology.

“This also opens the door for commercial companies to work with Ohio, AFRL, and the FAA to test their own UAS-related technology using our SkyVision detection system.”

The state seeks to potentially use the SkyVision detection system to develop and test UAS technology to assist citizens in the event of a natural disaster.

The drone detection technology can also also be used to enhance the capability of search and rescue teams during time-critical situations.

In October 2018, the US Air Force awarded a contract to Blighter to provide counter-UAS electric-scanning radar technology.