In an effort to reduce mid-air collisions, professional drone maker senseFly is teaming up with the aviation navigation app developer Air Navigation Pro to launch a program they call Safer Together. The mission is to bridge the awareness gap between professional UAS operators—such as civil engineers, surveyors and agricultural professionals—and Air Navigation Pro’s community of GA pilots. The program is in its early stages and has its limitations, but the concept is fascinating and has the potential to reduce GA and drone close encounters of the wrong kind.
As part of the program, GA pilots and drone operators will have bidirectional awareness of each other’s activities in the sky. This information provides UAS operators with the insight they need in order to change, pause or abort a flight and avoid collision around 200 to 400 feet above ground level, where most lightweight drones currently fly.
The project will be rolled out in two phases during 2016.
Phase 1 covers drone awareness for GA pilots. senseFly will release new GA functionality for its eMotion flight-planning software. This will enable operators of its drones, like the albris inspection UAS and popular eBee mapping platforms, to create a special advisory when activating their automated drone flights. eMotion will transmit this advisory flight information via the Internet to Air Navigation Pro’s server. Air Navigation Pro will then push this information out to all smart devices of connected Air Navigation users, enabling them to see details of the senseFly operator’s planned drone working area, such as its location, likely timings, height above the ground, type of drone, etc.—both prior to and during the GA pilot’s flight. This requires the smart device running Air Navigation Pro to have an Internet connection during flight.
Phase 2 covers GA awareness for drone operators. senseFly drone operators will gain the ability to view the Air Navigation users’ flights in real time (this requires the device running eMotion to have an Internet connection), making the Safer Together project the first system to provide bidirectional awareness of aerial activity for GA pilots and drone operators.