Drone tech specialist Elsight says there’s no room to gamble with mid-air comms
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As the race to commercialise drone deliveries quickens pace, Elsight believes it is only a matter of time before the drone industry is more regulated in countries world-wide.
It’s not just Australia’s precision flying team, the Air Force Roulettes, who understand the inherent risks – and clear necessity of timely, accurate communications – to keep their show in the air.
Critical connectivity technology company Elsight (ASX:ELS), believes communications will be key in drone regulations to maintain safe flying and Beyond the Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations.
Elsight’s in-house Halo communications device is seen as critical componentry of safe flying and has attracted the attention of drone companies globally.
Among its customers is DroneUp, which has partnered with US shopping giant Walmart to enable households in six US states to get supplies delivered by remote-controlled drones by the end of 2022.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in March published their Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) BVLOS Advisory Rulemaking Committee (ARC) report, which is now in public comment stage.
Elsight CEO Yoav says the 400-page report was much anticipated by the drone industry and its stakeholders.
The report recommends a complete overhaul of existing FAA regulations with entirely new regulations, including more than 70 recommendations.
“From conversations we’ve had with experts in the field, the estimate is that it will still be at least another 1-2 years until final rulings come down, which then need to be implemented,” he says.
“It’s clear, therefore, that the first thing needed for regulation is time.”
Amitai said the second aspect of regulation is that it needs to listen to stakeholders when making rules the industry must follow.
“This is being done in part with the Remote ID and BVLOS ARC reports, but at the same time, in an industry as varied as the one we’re in, there will always be someone left out of the equation,” he said.
“In essence, the lack of rules means everyone is trying to find their own best way forward, and the longer the regulators wait, the higher the chances some companies will choose wrong.
“We can hope that once the final ruling does come down, the regulators will have looked at the larger companies, like DroneUp or Wing and encode what they are doing as the way forward, but there will always be uncertainty until the final rules are released.”
With potentially so many drones up in the air along with other aircraft, of course the question must be raised of how to avoid a collision.
“There are many companies who are working on this specific problem of how to manage the drone airspace, and NASA also plays a very large part in the research of this topic,” Amitai says.
“Alongside the question of UTM (UAV Traffic Management), Halo integrates with mission planning platforms such as High Lander, Flight Ops and others,” he says.
“Precision mission planning is vital to integrating and controlling the airspace.”
This article was developed in collaboration with Elsight, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.