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UAV successfully sees and avoids another aircraft while in flight

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February 10, 2014

The Scan Eagle UAV, and the Cessna that it knew not to fly into

The Scan Eagle UAV, and the Cessna that it knew not to fly into

In a recent flight test in Australia, a Scan Eagle UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) succeeded in visually identifying an approaching Cessna aircraft, and letting its own ground-based operators know that evasive action was required. It's being hailed as a major step towards the allowance of UAVs in commercial airspace.

Part of the Queensland Government's Project ResQu, the test was carried out by Queensland University of Technology's Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA), in collaboration with Boeing Research & Technology - Australia, and Scan Eagle manufacturer Insitu Pacific.

The vision-based sense and avoid technology used in the UAV had previously been designed and tested for use in manned aircraft, as a backup for human pilots. Although the Scan Eagle was manually steered out of the way by its remote operator, it is hoped that future UAVs equipped with the system will be able to avoid mid-air collisions autonomously.

"Ultimately, this will allow UA [unmanned aircraft] to provide public services such as assistance in disaster management and recovery, as well as in environmental, biosecurity and resource management," said ARCAA director Prof. Duncan Campbell.

Source: Queensland University of Technology

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
3 Comments

all great until it encounters a flock of birds!!, or perhaps a hail storm or........

idp
11th February, 2014 @ 02:37 am PST

Thinking about times that I have flown into the Los Angeles area and the air traffic controllers are calling out other traffic that could be a conflict by the dozens, i'm not sure how a ground controller will handle avoidance safely. Situational awareness is not so easy while sitting on the ground miles from the action.

James P Pratt
11th February, 2014 @ 09:45 am PST

And how is that different from how a manned aircraft reacts to birds, or hail?

I had flock of geese fly right around my TBS pro quadcopter with no issues, they overtook me from behind as i was flying at about 20mph and turning to the right while descending, from about 300ft

they went right around me without issue, as soon as i noticed them i altered my flightpath very suddenly to fallow them. they still went around me no problem.

most of the drones out there are flying at very low speeds and altitudes, not 300mph like a jet that can suck up 5 or 6 geese real fast and take out an engine.

i think sense and avoid tech is great, and i will put it on my aircraft as soon as it is available. what the FAA needs to do is come up with comprehensive, fair, and reasonable, regulations for both commercial and hobby level drones to keep them safe in the sky, however this is not likely to happen until we force the issue. can you imagine how our highways would look if they had the same attitude and refused to have any regulations about how cars were used on them.

think about it

drgnfly004
11th February, 2014 @ 10:28 am PST
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