Echodyne, Iris Automation partner on drone flight safety over trans-Alaska pipeline

Radar manufacturer Echodyne, serving government and commercial markets, has announced its EchoGuard airspace management radars were the ground-based sensor for the first-ever UAS mission to operate beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight without ground observers, the company said.

The ground-based sensors worked in coordination with Iris Automation´s onboard detect-and-avoid system. The demonstration of a nearly four-mile linear inspection mission along the Trans-Alaska pipeline was designed and conducted by The University of Alaska´s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (UASIPP) and the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and is a true first for the UAS industry.

Led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) team, the test deployment consisted of Echodyne radars along the pipeline path to provide airspace situational awareness and Iris Automation´s computer vision collision avoidance technology onboard Skyfront´s long-range hybrid multicopter drone. The test was operated by UAF on July 31 and was successful and safe.

Echodyne´s airspace management radar, EchoGuard, combines MESA technology and powerful software to create an electronically scanning array (ESA) radar sensor with unprecedented performance for its ultra-low size, weight, power, and cost.

Echodyne introduces a compact, software-defined, solid-state, electronically scanned array (ESA) radar sensor. Privately held, the company is based in Kirkland, Washington, and is backed by Bill Gates, NEA, Madrona Venture Group, Vulcan Capital, and Lux Capital among others.