During a test of inspection of high-voltage lines by means of a BVLOS drone flight, our SEN-ID ground sensors were used to monitor all air traffic around the perimeter and to inform the drone operator in time if other aircraft came too close to avoid accidents.
In recent months, we have noticed a sharp increase in the number of projects, demonstrations and proof-of-concepts with BVLOS and autonomous drone flights to carry out assignments such as inspections, site security and goods transports. And where previously these missions were carried out by people and traditional aviation, now more and more drones are used to bring these missions to a successful conclusion in a cost-efficient and safe way.
But in order to carry out these assignments with BVLOS drone flights, the operator often has to wait and negotiate a long time to get an exception from the local aviation authorities to be allowed to do these flights.
The aviation authority will, quite rightly, monitor very closely the safety regulations and measures that the operator will put in place in order to be allowed to carry out these missions and will also impose additional safety standards.
This is also the case for this project in which the drone operator had to inspect a number of high-voltage lines on behalf of an international utility company for any problems.
To increase safety, the drone operator has asked our partner Skeydrone for assistance. Skeydrone, a subsidiary of Skeyes, the Belgian ANSP, has not only assisted the drone operator to obtain the necessary authorisations from the aviation authorities, but also to create situational airspace awareness around the flight area of the BVLOS drone flight.
In turn, Skeydrone has asked us to supply the ground sensors to detect in real time all air traffic in the airspace around the power lines to be inspected. This is to avoid accidents in the air with other aircraft.
"The most important thing at the moment is that we make sure that these types of specific flights are allowed to fly. The flight was carried out in the vicinity of a heliport, a skydivers association and was located in a "Low Flying Area" of the Belgian Air Force.
This required an overview of both manned and unmanned aviation in our SkeydroneMonitor platform. With Senhive as our hardware partner, we collected transponder data from ADS-B, Mode S and also Remote ID to provide an adequate "Situational Awareness"."
Didier Decaestecker, Head of Sales at Skeydrone.
Our SEN-ID sensors detect the remote ID of drones as standard (cfr. New European legislation), but can also be provided with ADS-B(1) and Mode-S(2) Multilateralation(3) and even AIS(4) for use in ports and coastal areas.
For this project, the SEN-ID sensors were therefore also equipped with the necessary hardware and software to use ADS-B and Mode-S to provide all air traffic, ranging from small sports flying gear and helicopters to large civilian aircraft and even military aircraft.
The combination of Skeydrone's visualisation platform and our sensors on the ground has ensured that the drone operator always had a real-time overview of all air traffic in a wide environment around the flight area during the BVLOS inspection assignment.
And by setting up additional warning and alarm zones, the operator did not even have to pay permanent attention to our system and could focus on his own flight.
Another part of this project, which seems to be a little less exciting but is nevertheless very important in these types of assignments, is the proper placement and installation of the sensors.
To obtain efficient coverage of the area, the sensors are best installed at, and you guessed it, at high points in the environment. Something where we had a nice advantage here since the client is a utility company with its own (telecom) masts in the immediate vicinity.
But then comes the second part of the installation: the installation itself. And that's where our experience of placing these types of sensors comes in handy. The installation was carried out, due to safety regulations, by specialists from the utility company itself and they were enthusiastic about the ease with which our sensors could be installed, almost with one hand!
Finally, both the drone operator and Skeydrone were satisfied with the reliability of our sensors and software. Because during this project, a number of our sensors were also installed on temporary masts, and powered by batteries, which were set up every day and broken down again in the evening. And each time our sensors and software started up flawlessly.
These types of projects show that BVLOS and autonomous flights can take place in safe conditions if they are linked to sensors on the ground and efficient software. And we think it's only going to increase the increase in use of these drone applications.
If you have more questions about these applications or other of our products, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1)ADS-B : Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a cooperative system for air traffic control and related applications. ADS-B equipped aircraft periodically transmit their position and other information to ground stations and neighboring aircraft equipped with ADS-B.
Each aircraft equipped with (2)Mode S transponder is assigned a unique address code. With the help of this unique code, interrogations can be directed to a particular aircraft and answers can be unambiguously identified.
(3) Multilateration (abbreviated MLAT; multi-full pseudorange multilateration; also called hyperbolic positioning) is a technique for determining the position of a 'vehicle' based on the measurement of the arrival times (TOAs) of energy waves (radio, acoustic, seismic, etc.) with a known waveform and speed when spreading (navigation) or to (surveillance) multiple system drives. These stations are located in well-known locations and have synchronized 'clocks'. Before a solution is used, the time of dispatch (TOT) of the waves is unknown to the receiver on the 'vehicle' (navigation) or the receivers at the stations (monitoring). Consequently, the wave time of the flight (TOF) is also unknown.