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Vigilant Aerospace has completed successfully a testing beyond line-of-sight flight testing of its new FlightHorizon detect-and-avoid collision avoidance system for unmanned aircraft at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.

FlightHorizon is designed to comply with FAA drone regulations on beyond line-of-sight flight, night flying and airspace authorization including Part 107.200 waiver requirements and RTCA SC-228 operating standards.

According to the company’s site, the tests demonstrated the system’s ability to provide beyond line-of-sight flight safety for small and mid-sized unmanned aircrafts to help comply with FAA regulations and integrate drones into the national airspace.

The system successfully detected and tracked intruder aircraft and provided traffic alerts and collision warnings on 100% of air traffic during the encounters.

18 different scenarios were examined multiple times using two DJI Phantom 4 drones with one aircraft acting as the friendly aircraft while the other acted as an intruder.

The scenarios triggered the system’s traffic alerts, threat alerts and collision warnings, allowing the drone pilots to avoid collisions between the aircraft.

The encounters included beyond line-of-sight flights that simulated real-world scenarios in which visual detection of approaching aircraft by ground-based unmanned pilots might not be possible due to distance, weather, altitude and speed.

The tests were analyzed by the FAA’s senior UAV regulator, by an FCC (Federal Communications Commision) observer to monitor radio transmissions, and were the culmination of a multi-month program of development, safety planning and test preparation, concluding in December, 2016.

Vigilant Aerospace has exclusively licensed the NASA patent and software which forms the basis for the company’s FlightHorizon product and was invented by Dr. Ricardo Arteaga at NASA Armstrong.

A key advantage of the FlightHorizon system over it’s competitors is that it applies off-the-shelf hardware, uses the existing national air-traffic control system and can be used on both smaller and larger UAVs.

The detect-and-avoid system is an important part of the effort to integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace and to make beyond line-of-sight drones safe to share airspace with manned aircraft.