New open-source platform from Altitude Angel supports UTM-connected operations

UK U-space platform provider Altitude Angel has released a new open-source hardware and software platform called Scout. According to Altitude Angel, Scout enables drone manufacturers, software developers and commercial drone pilots to quickly connect to its global Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) services.

The Altitude Angel press release says Scout is primarily intended for use in commercial and industrial drone applications, and provides the capability to securely obtain and broadcast a form of ‘network remote ID’, widely seen as a necessary step for enabling routine drone use and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight. As it is open source, both the hardware and the firmware can be enhanced and incorporated into a virtually limitless set of scenarios.

Scout offers two-way communication and is fully open-sourced. The ability to talk back enables the Altitude Angel UTM service to help the drone avoid collisions with other aerial vehicles, or restricted airspace.

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

Scout enables 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 (via micro USB) lithium battery. Altitude Angel has also provided reference design plans for the case which can be 3D printed. Scout has been designed to satisfy emerging network Remote ID standards, such as ASTM.

The telemetry can also be sent to other systems as required by the implementor.

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

Richard Parker, Altitude Angel, CEO and founder said: “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.”

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