Two technology companies are working together to make commercial drone use safer by creating airspace maps for UAVs.
The growing use of drones in different industries in addition to recreational use has led to concerns that airspaces are becoming congested and there is recognition that in the future Autonomous World, the traffic of both airborne and ground vehicles will need to be well orchestrated to ensure safety and efficiency.
HERE Technologies, a digital mapping and location services specialist, and Unifly, a provider of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) software, hope their drone airspace maps will provide a solution to congestion concerns.
In the first phase of their collaboration, the companies plan to enable an airspace map for drones that covers both rural and urban areas, and marks out no-fly zones, such as airports, residential areas and sensitive government installations.
In the second phase, the companies plan to further develop the system to support the management of drone traffic flow and even collision avoidance, much like air traffic controllers do for the airline industry today. Longer-term, the aim is to explore how drone transportation and logistics can be integrated seamlessly into the broader transportation system.
The Unifly UTM platform connects relevant local and aviation authorities with drone pilots to safely integrate drones into the airspace. HERE, meanwhile, is developing the Reality Index, a rich real-time digital representation of the physical world. Based on the companies’ commercial agreement, Unifly will integrate HERE map and location data from the Reality Index into its applications to provide a more and more robust picture of the low-altitude airspace.
Leon van de Pas, Senior VP Internet of Things at HERE Technologies, said that drones will be the ultimate users of the Reality Index.
“By combining our location technologies with the drone traffic management expertise of Unifly, we’re excited to help shape the future of this growing industry.”
Marc Kegelaers, CEO of Unifly, said: “New mapping technologies will make it easier to tell a drone and its operator where they can viably, safely and legally fly. This is needed if, one day, drones are to be flown remotely out of the view of their operators. And it will be even more essential as autonomously-flying drones become more prevalent. By greatly boosting the situational awareness of drone traffic, we act as a catalyser for developing new and exciting applications of drone technology.”