AR system allows operators to see drone swarms

21 April 2021
A look at the augmented reality system through AI glasses on a live seven drone swarm in cloudy conditions. Source: Blue Bear Systems

U.K. startup Blue Bear Systems has developed an augmented reality (AR) system for swarming drones and to help enable beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.

The Blue Bear AR technology allows an operator wearing AR glasses to see where the drones in the swarm are and visualize their health status and other parameters. Each drone can be selected to see more detailed views of its status.

The technology could be useful for drone swarm operators, safety pilots and for instances when multiple drones are returning to a single landing area. With BVLOS drones, the system gives information and context about drone locations as well as the weather, which could be vital for safe operations.

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 object tracking through cloud computing. AR technology could also offer a look into the drone’s performance, status and location.

“This is a key component to add to our Centurion swarming drone command and control system, and our Manned Unmanned Machine Teaming (MUM-T) technology,” said Ian Williams-Wynn, managing director of Blue Bear. “By layering different information, using AR, we can significantly enhance the operator’s ability to understand what a single drone, or swarm of drones, is doing, how much endurance is left, and obtain a host of other information about the platform and payloads.”

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