US-based PrecisionHawk has introduced its new low-altitude tracking and avoidance system (LATAS), which has been designed as an automated air traffic control system for the safe integration of drones into the national airspace.

Launched for the first time at the 2015 Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) Expo, the small, lightweight and patent-pending LATAS can be integrated into an unmanned aerial vehicle’s (UAV) circuit during manufacturing.

Developed as a solution for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to consider for full UAS integration, the system uses real-time flight data transmission based on worldwide cellular networks to provide flight planning, tracking and avoidance for every drone in the airspace.

PrecisionHawk business development director and LATAS creator Tyler Collins said: "The development of LATAS is based around the idea that we can use existing technologies at a low cost and weight, and avoid the creation of an entire new system.

"LATAS can be integrated into an unmanned aerial vehicle’s (UAV) circuit during manufacturing."

"We need more advanced computer systems to deal with the technology side and reversely we need the technology side to work within traditional safety methods to provide the FAA with a safety-first solution.

"In the technology world we reward innovation and speed, but in the FAA’s world they reward safety. LATAS is a viable solution to reward both sides, giving pilots a way to know where UAVs are before they become a safety concern."

Capable of operating on network speeds as low as 2G, the LATAS is a platform-agnostic system that has been designed as a working prototype using the code standards that are required for air traffic control.

The first LATAS prototype was created and tested in last year using a 3D printer and hobbyist quadcopter at an RC field in Raleigh, North Carolina, US.

Image: An illustration of PrecisionHawk’s new LATAS as an automated air traffic control system for UAVs. Photo: courtesy of PrecisionHawk.