Inmarsat and Altitude Angel partner on drone air traffic management service

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Drone traffic management company Altitude Angel and Inmarsat are to develop a pop-up satellite system for managing unmanned drone traffic.

The system will use Inmarsat’s global network of satellites and will further develop the capabilities of Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) platform with a “pop-up capability”. The pop-up capability will enable the system to be deployed anywhere it is required to manage Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights, without the need for ground-based communications infrastructure.

The pop-up UTM will be developed initially to address the unmanned traffic management needs of blue light emergency services and first responders who need aerial surveillance rapidly with little notice, with a commercial, industry-focussed product to follow soon after.

Emergency services will be able to use the pop-up UTM to manage drones remotely, increasing their range of safe operations in mixed airspace containing manned and unmanned vehicles.

Anthony Spouncer, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Director of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and UTM, said, “Inmarsat is excited to partner with Altitude Angel on this ground-breaking technology, which allows UAV flights to operate quickly, efficiently and safely.

“Inmarsat can act as a catalyst for the safe and rapid growth of the Unmanned Aerial Systems sector due to our global satellite network, decades of experience in keeping aircraft safe through communications, navigation and surveillance services, and relationships with Air Traffic Management providers worldwide. We also bring first-hand experience of working with international aid organisations to deliver emergency communications in remote areas.”

Phil Binks, Altitude Angel’s head of Air Traffic Management said, “The ability to almost instantly pop-up safe, secure and fully operational UTM platforms in any environment, at any time, will give first responders, blue light services and aid organisations a valuable new tool that could save countless lives. Altitude Angel and Inmarsat, in developing pop-up UTM, will be able to bring connectivity, clarity and automated air traffic control services for UAVs in even the most challenging of circumstances.”

Altitude Angel is able to adapt existing services to work on higher latency/lower bandwidth networks and enable mode switching to ensure a robust communications link with deployed vehicles is always maintained. This provides emergency services and first responders with the ability to have a single source point-of-truth where UAVs and piloted aviation can be co-ordinated on the same platform.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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