I recently asked my research assistant David Heath to help get me up to speed on the various Sense and Avoid (SAA) technologies available for drone/UAV use (I’m still working on whether to just use the word “drone” from now on). David gave me some information on the BAE Systems’ AD/DPX-7 Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) transponder with Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver; the GA-ASI-developed Due Regard Radar (DRR); and Honeywell’s TPA-100 Traffic Collision Avoidance System or TCAS.
A few days later, I was discussing with attorney and pilot Kate Fletcher about an article we recently read about drones getting too close to commercial aircraft’s airspace. Clearly, nobody wants drones to interfere with the safe operation of full scale aircraft! We discussed a bit about the systems in place for aircraft to aircraft avoidance. It then occurred to me that what is needed is a technology that prevents a drone from being operated into the path of an airplane. In other words, no matter what the input of the drone operator, even if they tried to get a drone into prohibited airspace, it just would not work. Likewise, no autonomous drones would be permitted into the impending path, no matter the GPS way points inputted.
I have no idea if this is already being worked on, and it does make me recall the criticisms of President Clinton calling for a “V chip” in televisions to restrict children from viewing inappropriate programming -the technology apparently did not exist at the time it was required by law to be put in place in the future. However, if the drone/UAV industry were to soon demonstrate this technology is bulletproof, just maybe it will help speed up FAA regulations permitting commercial use of drones.
What do you think? Is this already being worked on? Please let us know in the comments.