The aim of the system is to locate the drone in real time to facilitate surveillance and enable the detection of drones which could be used for malevolent purposes. Compatible with many air traffic control systems, this development is one possible avenue to effectively respond to fears arising from the growing numbers of drones in our skies. Airborne Concept and Egis have signed a partnership and pooled their aeronautical expertise to design this surveillance system. They are the joint holders of a patent which they have recently registered.
"We are pleased to note that NASA carried out similar tests around the same period on a ‘Predator’ fixed wing drone. It is encouraging for us to discover that our design offices had the same vision of the future as that of a prestigious institution such as NASA. This is solid proof of the pertinence of our development work and a sign that French engineering capabilities remain top-class," says Arnaud Le Maout, President of Airborne Concept.
Airborne Concept and Egis focussed their attentions on a reduced-sized ADS-B transponder mounted on a multi-rotor drone. Airborne Concept, a Toulouse-based manufacturer of drones for professional use, undertook the integration of the ADS-B module aboard the latest octocopter model to emerge from its manufacturing facilities.
Egis, an international consulting, engineering and operations group, notably in the aviation field, contributed its ADS-B expertise on the validation of the operation concept to enable detection by air traffic control systems. ADS-B is an international standard which allows the communication of information for monitoring purposes (identification of aircraft, position, direction, speed, altitude and reliability).
"This cooperation allows Egis to support the development of an area where innovation is of critical importance in the design of new services capable of fitting into today’s aeronautical environment," adds Cédric Barbier, Executive Director Aviation at Egis.
The first tests in front of representatives from DGAC aroused the interest of Mrs. Muriel Preux, Director of the Drone Project at the national regulator, who adds:
"The area of drones is experiencing rapid development both in terms of technology and in the range of professional applications considered. Innovation can be found in a number of areas: the drones themselves, sensors, data processing software, etc. It is important that it also contributes benefits in terms of air security. Fitting a drone with an ADS-B transponder enables its trajectory to be monitored in real time and allows it to be displayed on a radar screen or be recognised by the TCAS of an aeroplane. It is also a possible way of identifying the drone and its operator by law enforcement bodies. This is therefore an important step towards integrating drones within the controlled airspace. These concepts, developed by NASA, are today tested in France by Airborne Concept. Research and Development must be continued to make equipment smaller and cheaper to produce and to further test the capacity of ADS-B, possibly working together with research labs or engineering colleges. But this first step is very encouraging. The DGAC’s services worked hard to make this first experiment possible and will remain closely attentive to future developments."
This cooperation between the firms Airborne Concept and Egis is a first step towards making the use of drones above our heads safer. Without a doubt, this very aeronautical approach is unavoidable if the manufacturers in the drone field are to avoid clashing with the traditional users of our skies whilst also reassuring government authorities who are very sensitive to cases of illegal overflight.