Drone startup to test routine beyond visual line of sight flights in North Dakota

11 September 2020
The VOLY C10 drone will be used to test routine flights that go beyond the visual line of sight in order to accelerate unmanned aerial systems in the state of North Dakota. Source: Volansi

Volansi has been selected by the University of North Dakota and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) to test a statewide beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) network for unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Volansi’s VOLY C10 drone will test installed network components, ensure safety and reliability of a network, perform use-case development flights and help NPUASTS set a standard for any aircraft flying on the network.

The statewide BVLOS network in North Dakota will allow drones to fly across the state. Collins Aerospace, L3Harris Technologies and Thales USA were selected to work with NPUASTS to develop and employ the physical infrastructure for the network. The VOLY C10 drone allows for integrating different technologies such as command and control (C2) links or onboard detect and avoid (DAA) as well as expectations for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advanced approvability to obtain an FAA durability and reliability type certification.

Volansi said the North Dakota state-wide plan to test BVLOS will help to support the growth of unmanned aviation by creating a viable model that could be adopted across the country.

BVLOS allows drone operators to conduct complex drone operations where the device flies beyond a point where the operator can see it. This could be through a camera attached to the drone or for autonomous flight operations without a pilot. While some companies are currently testing BVLOS using 4G wireless networks, the advent of 5G, the next-generation wireless technology, may accelerate the development of BVLOS as the technology would allow for intelligent identification and tracking of objects through cloud computing. One such project has already started with Ericsson and Australian telecom Optus with the first teleoperated drone flight.

BVLOS is considered one of the next major steps for drones to leap from just a consumer hobby or used in recon or military operations to real-world use cases for delivery and industrial use cases such as surveying or mapping locations.

The FAA has permitted certain companies to test drones for BVLOS with the first company being UPS, who is testing drone flights with retail drug chain CVS in North Carolina.

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