Drone manufacturer Applied Aeronautics has integrated Iris Automation’s detect and avoid system Casia on board its latest Albatross aircraft, enabling beyond visual line of sight flights.
The Albatross drone, which can be purchased for US$7,000 and the forthcoming beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) model offers a long distance endurance of up to four hours, and critical capabilities for BVLOS including specialized communications, modular – application specific – payloads. Flying drones beyond line of sight has been estimated to save between 28% and 55% of the cost to fly similar missions by helicopter, according to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).
Applied Aeronautics is manufacturing the Albatross BVLOS at its new composites facility in Austin, Texas. The facility is being built to support a surge in demand from the global commercial and military sectors for long-endurance BVLOS-capable drones.
Iris Automation’s Casia allows uncrewed aircraft to see and react to the aviation environment around it, providing situational awareness for remote pilots and enhancing air safety. Casia detects other aircraft using computer-vision algorithms to classify them, makes intelligent decisions about the threat they may pose to the drone and then triggers an alert to execute maneuvers to safely avoid collisions.
The two companies have previously partnered on several successful BVLOS projects, including the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program, and commercial inspection operations in Canada. Casia-equipped Albatross aircraft are also supporting long range missions in Latin America.
Meg Annand, chief operating officer at Applied Aeronautics said, “This is an important development both for us and our customers. As they seek to move beyond a sandbox environment into more widespread deployment and demand for our system accelerates across the board, we’re looking forward to responding with an affordable BVLOS solution.”
Lori DeMatteis, vice president of sales and marketing at Iris Automation said, “This partnership opens a new pathway for global military and enterprise operators to evolve from traditional platforms to affordable UAVs with high levels of safety. This delivers immediate, tangible business outcomes while protecting the safety reputations of operators and their customers as well as the general public.”
Read our in-depth coverage of the testing of Iris Automation’s Casia system, including its work with Applied Aeronautics here.