Syracuse University and Thales research sensor fusion technology to provide real-time tracking of drones

Syracuse University and Thales are collaborating to develop new tools and techniques for monitoring airspace and track small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The research is led by the Sensor Fusion Lab in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, along with the Center for Advanced Systems and Engineering (CASE), under the guidance of Distinguished Professor Pramod Varshney.

Varshney’s lab is developing performance metrics and models for new radar systems being deployed to ensure that traditional aviators and drones do not get too close in the air, thereby creating a safety issue within the national airspace system.  Varshney and his students are working with Thales engineers and business leaders to implement algorithms that will more accurately track drones using multiple sensors (radar, acoustic, radio frequency and cameras) to provide real-time tracking and ensuring safety in the air and on the ground.  Surveillance data fusion is a core competency at Syracuse University, which led to the partnership between Thales and Varshney—a recognized expert in multi-sensor data fusion algorithmic development.

Varshney says this collaboration is critical to the advancement of drone integration into the national airspace system and integral to multiple, ongoing integration projects including the US Air Force Research Lab’s Collaborative Low-Altitude UAS Integration Effort (CLUE) and for the New York UAS Corridor—a project taking place in close proximity to Syracuse University to integrate drones into the airspace safely between Syracuse, New York, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) UAS Test Site at the Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York.

As a large systems integrator, Thales helped define the standard for UAS airspace integration and traffic management models–specifically as an early partner with the FAA for Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). The company’s integration of third-party capabilities, such as surveillance and other data services into a UTM platform, is enabling new digital services for UAS airspace access.  Varshney says Syracuse University plays a vital role in the integration of this safety-critical service.

“Central New York is leading the United States in the integration of drone technology.  Syracuse University and its Autonomous Systems Policy Institute, along with other organizations including CenterState CEO and NUAIR and Thales, are committed to establishing a leadership role in the development of critical technologies, policies and new public-private business models to advance the United States’ national airspace system,” says Varshney.

(Image: Distinguished Prof Pramod Varshney, Syracuse University)

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