Drones are revolutionizing various industries, including logistics, agriculture, and cinematography, among others. They offer unparalleled flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency in completing tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve with traditional methods. However, with the increasing use of drones, there are growing concerns about safety and security, especially in areas where drone flights are restricted. For example, near airports, military bases, government buildings, and other sensitive areas. Violating these restrictions can result in severe consequences, including fines, legal action, or even endangering lives. Therefore, it is essential to have robust safety measures in place to ensure compliance with standards, such as Eurocae ED-269 and ED-270, and prevent accidents. This is where Veronte’s Geofencing technology comes in.
Veronte Autopilot allows drone operators to configure restricted areas or volumes as polygons or circles, thanks to its new Geofencing capabilities. This feature offers an easy-to-use interface, the VeronteOps tool, allowing drone operators to set up restricted flight areas quickly and effectively. This tool shows the restricted areas in the map with a shade of red. Any attempt to enter these areas will result in an automatic detour of the aircraft to prevent going into those areas and then it will continue with the planned route. Moreover, Veronte Autopilot’s Geocaging capabilities allows to delimit Safe Flight Areas, to delimit zones from which the drone cannot leave. In addition, the Veronte Autopilot enables drone operators to update restricted flight areas even during flight, making it a versatile and efficient solution for managing restricted areas. All in compliance with Eurocae ED-269 and ED-270.
Geofencing can be used also to bing the operation of the UAV’s in altitude, for example configuring a minimum or/and maximum height in certain areas.
Furthermore, Veronte’s Geofencing technology has multiple applications beyond regulatory compliance. For instance, it can be used for precision agriculture, where drones can be programmed to avoid restricted areas such as water sources, crops, or livestock. This helps prevent any potential damage to crops or livestock and ensures that the drone stays on course to complete the mission. It can be also used to prevent going too close to electric lines, wind turbines, etc.
Overall, Veronte’s Geofencing technology is a valuable tool for drone operators, enabling them to comply with regulations such as the Eurocae ED-269 and ED-270 standard, prevent accidents, and protect sensitive infrastructure. Its easy-to-use interface, versatile features, and advanced capabilities make it an ideal solution for a wide range of applications. Whether you are a drone operator in the logistics, military, agriculture, or cinematography industry, Veronte’s geofencing technology offers unparalleled control and stability, ensuring the safe and responsible operation of your drone.
Aug 2, 2022
The UK says its new 265 kilometre drone superhighway will be the world’s biggest.
Strict regulations will be put in place to ensure safety and avoid collisions with conventional aircraft.
Research suggests the further integration of drones into the UK economy could create more than $50 billion of growth and create over 650,000 jobs.
UK is looking to expand drone use by creating what it says will be the world’s biggest “drone superhighway”.
Drones were first developed for military use, but they’re increasingly being put to work in very different ways. Unmanned aerial vehicles – as they are also known – have been adopted for everything from delivering goods and medicines to monitoring forest fires and providing aerial photography.
Drone flight has been strictly regulated in many parts of the world to prevent collisions with manned aircraft. But the UK is looking to expand drone use by creating what it says will be the world’s biggest “drone superhighway”. This will be a 265 kilometre air corridor that will connect towns and cities in southern and central England.
How the drone superhighway will work
Drone operators will have to sign up to use the superhighway, which will operate at an altitude below the UK’s regular flight corridors. It will use ground-based sensors to detect other forms of aviation, so that light aircraft and helicopters can pass through it safely. If drones do somehow get close to aircraft, they could be instructed to change their flightpath or even land.
There are many potential uses for the drone superhighway, aviation technology company Altitude Angel’s chief operating officer Chris Forster told BBC News. “Whether it be a business doing logistics, all the way to the police and medical deliveries of vaccines and blood samples, there's a real demand to have access to this airspace."
Building a drone economy
The plan is part of $325 million of measures by the UK to boost aerospace innovations. Proposed schemes include using drone monitoring to make motorways safer, including by spotting hazards to improve journey times.
Delivering mail and medicines to more remote parts of the UK such as the islands off its southwestern tip are also in the planning stages. The government says such projects could create up to 8,800 jobs.
Drones have delivered post to the Isles of Scilly off the southwest of the UK. Image: Royal Mail
Research commissioned by the government estimates that drones could contribute more than $50 billion to the UK economy by 2030. It also says “an economy that fully adopts drones” could create 650,000 jobs.
“Through funding for the latest in green technology, such as solar and hydrogen-powered aircraft, and setting out our vision for the fast-growing market for commercial drones, we are once again placing the aerospace sector directly at the centre of our plans to deliver jobs and grow the economy,” says UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
Drones could create many long-term benefits for the UK economy. Image: PwC
What could drones do?
The increased use of drones will have many other benefits too, the UK government says. In the short term, it expects drones to become the industry standard for inspecting buildings, power lines, offshore energy facilities, roads, railways and industrial infrastructure.
In the medium term, it thinks drone shipments of emergency and medical goods will increase, along with wider delivery services to remote areas. Crop-spraying drones for use in agriculture will also proliferate.
And in the longer term, an estimated 900,000 drones could provide essential services to power the economy, improve supply chains and logistics. Passenger air taxis are also predicted to emerge by 2030.
Drones could help reduce CO2 emissions
Fully integrating drones into the economy could reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by up to 2.4 million tons – that’s the equivalent of taking 1.7 million diesel cars off the road, government-funded research says.
These savings would come from reduced use of traditional aircraft and because inspection engineers and emergency workers would no longer need to drive as much to make routine assessments or respond to incidents. A rise in drone deliveries would also reduce conventional road vehicle use.
The UK’s National Health Service has already started using drones to deliver chemotherapy. Image: NHS
The World Economic Forum launched its Medicine from the Sky initiative to deliver vaccines and medicines to rural communities in India. More than 300 vaccine delivery trials have already been completed, and there are plans to expand and reach more communities.
Updated: Mar 22
By: William Ralston
05.07.2022 12:00 PM
The National Grid is testing computer-manned drones that can save millions in maintenance work.
PHOTOGRAPH: CHRIS RATCLIFFE/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES
In March, a troop of engineers gathered in an unkept green field in rural Nottinghamshire, England. They were there to test a drone piloting software that they hoped could one day be in charge of maintaining the high-voltage pylons that transmit electricity across the country. Assuming the software was working, a drone was about to inspect a pylon from a few meters away, maneuvered not by a nearby pilot but a computer in a control station hundreds of meters away.
Seconds later, the dance began. Whizzing around, the drone took 65 photos that documented the condition of the pylon’s steel arms, fittings, and conductors. After only six minutes, the drone returned to the ground to a round of applause. By the time it had landed, it had already sent the photos to be analyzed for corrosion by an AI-powered system.
“What we’re doing is sending a super high-level instruction to the drone, like ‘Go to that pylon,’ and the drone is using its own intelligence to understand where the pylon is, where the parts of the pylon are that need to be imaged, and then it organizes its own route to the data capture itself,” says Sees.ai founder John McKenna, whose company was behind the drone test.
Until now, data about the condition of electricity pylons has almost exclusively been captured manually by using ropes to climb pylons, which is dangerous, or by helicopters, which is expensive and polluting. (Helicopters also deliver poor data because they can only gather it from afar.) Manually-flown drones, on the other hand, can't be rolled out on a large scale because they're extremely slow and require a pilot and an observer to follow them.
As such, the companies responsible for these pylons have had to settle for scheduled maintenance, which is not only inefficient but unsafe. Faults in the UK power transmission network are expensive, shutting down entire regions, but in drier regions they can cause wildfires. Unlock unmanned drone flight and you can, in theory, eradicate this problem.
Other countries have been working on similar efforts: Last year, the Florida Power and Light company used automated drones manufactured by Israeli company Percepto to detect problems in the power grid after hurricanes. In Norway, utility company Agder Energi Nett announced in April 2021 that it will rely exclusively on automated drones, mostly flown by KVS Technologies, to monitor its power grid. The system the company uses is tailored to speed and scalability in that it flies a minimum of 15 meters over the top of the grid for a “broad inspection,” says the company’s COO, Jimmy Bostrøm, rather than inspecting each pylon individually. A key part of the inspection is identifying vegetation that may have fallen on the grid during strong winds and storms. Three of Sweden’s core electricity distributors have also recently signed contracts with Airpelago, another company that flies automated drones, and have committed to exclusive use of automated drones for inspection over the next two years. “There are real signs that operators are steadily moving away from helicopters,” Max Hjalmarsson, the company’s cofounder and CEO, says.
Back in England, the control station powering the drone was only a walk away, but it could have been anywhere in the world, explains McKenna, and the pilot would only need internet connectivity to issue high-level instructions and override the system if anything goes wrong. Instead of humans and helicopters, McKenna’s vision is to have armies of drones inspecting and maintaining the electricity transmission grid using preprogrammed templates. This is possible because of commonality between towers. By taking photos in a consistent, perfectly repeatable process, the company’s system can digitally reconstruct each pylon, capturing data optimal for automated processing. Sees.ai sends the data it captures to a company called Keen AI, who will use it to digitally reconstruct each pylon, identifying precisely where corrosion is developing and, possibly in the future, where it’s likely to develop.
And instead of one pilot observing a single drone, each pilot could observe several, operating like air traffic control at an airport. Because the drone understands how to position itself, it can execute the mission autonomously even if communication fails.
Sees.ai designed a drone software that works in a similar way as autonomous cars. Using information gathered from six on-board sensors—two LIDAR, three fish-eye cameras, and an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit)—it creates its own 3D world that it then presents on a computer screen, along with a live videostream from the cameras. Instead of relying on potentially inaccurate or outdated historical data from asset design files, Google Maps, or satellite imagery, the software captures its own from scratch, and will evolve in real time throughout the drone’s mission.
McKenna says this test flight in Nottinghamshire was a step towards developing a command and control system that’s going to allow for autonomous aerial vehicles to be approved on a large scale. The trials so far include the remote inspection of Sellafield’s nuclear site, the rail infrastructure governed by Network Rail, and Vodafone’s telecommunications network. Alongside the Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service, Sees.ai has been exploring whether the system could be used to transport medical supplies, and eventually persons, to and from incidents.
This technology is pushing the limits of what drones can do in British airspace. While the uses of drones are multifarious, especially when it comes to transportation and delivery, the rules that govern their operation have made it difficult to roll them out at scale. In the US, for example, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits companies from flying drones beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). Though it has approved 230 waivers, most of them have been for academic or research purposes. The waivers that have been granted for commercial purposes have been limited on time, airspace, and often both. (In March, a report issued by the FAA recommended an overhaul of these existing regulations to enable the commercial drone industry to scale.)
“It’s like this in almost all countries,” says David Wickström, CTO of Skyqraft, a Swedish company that uses AI to analyze data acquired by drones. Some drone operators, including Zipline, a US startup, have resorted to developing its systems in Africa.
In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also requires the pilot to be within the visual line of sight (VLOS) of the drone. But in 2021, the CAA granted Sees.ai explicit authority to begin operating BVLOS flights in nonsegregated airspace, up to a height of 150 feet. There are only 10 or so companies in the world that have permission at this level, McKenna says. The list also includes American Robotics, the Massachusetts-based company that in January became the first company authorized by the FAA to operate automated drones without anyone on-site to monitor them. Its system relies on an acoustic Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) technology that ensures that its drones maintain a safe distance from other aircraft.