Altitude Angel Launches Open Source Hardware And Software Platform Called Scout

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Pic credit : Altitude Angel
  • Scout is primarily intended for use in commercial and industrial drone applications
  • Scout will use identifiers obtained freely from Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM platform

Altitude Angel, provider of UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) technology has released an open-sourced project named Scout. It consists of hardware and firmware that will help drone manufacturers, software developers, and commercial drone pilots to quickly connect to its global UTM as per the company. Altitude Angel does not yet have plans to manufacture the device. It said that it is open to the possibility as part of its work supporting the emerging drone ecosystem.

It said that Scout is primarily intended for use in commercial and industrial drone applications. It comes with the capability to securely obtain and broadcast a form of ‘network remote ID’. It is seen as a necessary step for enabling routine drone use and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight. The hardware and the firmware can be enhanced and incorporated into a virtually limitless set of scenarios due to its open source nature.

Richard Parker, Altitude Angel, CEO and founder said, “For routine automated commercial and industrial use of drones to take flight, several challenges need to be solved. Not least, how will the drone be connected to the digital air traffic control systems of the future? Some proprietary devices exist which provide only a small part of the solution: getting the drone’s location to a single UTM.”

Comprehensive real-time picture of the airspace

This launch comes just weeks after Altitude Angel announced that it had made available a surveillance API that allows integrators to both share and receive flight data from a range of sensors and devices in near real-time. It said that it provides a comprehensive real-time picture of the airspace.

Scout offers both two-way communication and is fully open-sourced. Other similar devices are typically, proprietary and ‘broadcast only’. This means that the receiving system can only ‘hear’ the device itself, and cannot ‘talk back’ to the drone. This “talk back” ability will enable Altitude Angel UTM service to help the drone avoid collisions with other aerial vehicles or restricted airspace.

Scout will use identifiers obtained freely from Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM platform. It will work in combination with a pre-flight (flight plan sharing) service and it is supported through integration with Altitude Angel’s Tactical Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) service.

Internal rechargeable lithium battery

The company said that Scout will enable the drone to report its real-time location using GPS-type sensors and relay this data via a secure, encrypted mobile communications link across 3G, 4G, and 5G networks to Altitude Angel. It is powered by an internal rechargeable lithium battery via micro USB. It has also provided reference design plans for the case which can be 3D printed. As the firmware is open source, the telemetry can also be sent to other systems as required by the implementor.

As per the company said that a two-wire I2C upgrade to the circuit schematics, plus version 2 of the firmware (both scheduled for June 2020) will enable the full two-way communication between the Scout device and the drone’s onboard systems. This will allow the drone to respond directly to information received from the UTM. It said that, in the interim, early adopters will have the opportunity to begin to integrate with Altitude Angel’s UTM services, test the hardware and communication. The position data that Altitude Angel receives from Scout is then automatically used by its Flight Information Management System (FIMS) to help provide traffic deconfliction.

Connect to virtually any system

Parker added, “We believe Scout is unique because its open source architecture can be incorporated into other solutions and its firmware can be customised to suit any particular task and connect to virtually any system. By making Scout freely available our hope is to accelerate the take-up and use of UTM-connected drones. When this is achieved, we will not only be keeping our skies safe, but we will open them to scalable, automated flight.”

He further said, “Scout represents one of the latest projects to emerge from our R&D lab and we’re saying to users ‘take this device, experiment with it, improve it and integrate it with your solutions, and share your findings with the community’.”

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