40 mile BVLOS UAV flight demonstrates floor radio system, autopilot
uAvionix conducted a 40 mile demonstration flight combining the flight control capabilities of the company’s new George autopilot (VTOL) with the latest iteration of SkyLine, its managed command and control infrastructure (C2), using three terrestrial skyStation Ground Radio Systems (GRS). The technology demonstration flight took place at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The three terrestrial ground radio stations of the SkyStation support the fully autonomous flight beyond the line of sight (BVLOS).
Each ground radio was monitored and coordinated via the cloud-based SkyLine Managed C2 service from uAvionix. SkyLine monitors the connectivity, signal strength and quality of microLink, the company’s redundant airborne radio system on board the eVTOL, to manage smooth, seamless transitions between ground radio locations. On-site engineers, along with dozens of people around the world, watched the SkyLine system, completely autonomously and independently of the commanding pilot, determine which of the three ground stations offered the most robust connection.
George is a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) compliant autopilot that leverages CubePilot’s cube core, combining open source autopilot with Design Assurance Level (DAL) C hardware and security and sensor monitoring for customers using a Type certification (TC) and proof of safety would like for high-risk operations like BVLOS. uAvionix has a George developer beta testing program to take part in early integration and testing opportunities.
In addition to hardening open source hardware, George simplifies the integration and compatibility complexities associated with corporate autopilots and flight avionics. With uAvionix products including low-SWaP certified transponders, C2 radios, ADS-B detection and avoidance solutions, the soon-to-be-certified truFYX GPS, and support for hundreds of third-party components, George enables platform developers to quickly create a seamless UAS Architecture for business or the battlefield.
The SkyLine system is currently deployed as a component of the Vantis State-Wide North Dakota BVLOS network, the New Mexico UAS Test Site and the AirMarket-led Energy UTM tests in Canada.
Aviation grade radios
The demonstration flight used the uAvionix microLink Airborne Radio Systems (ARS) and skyStation Ground Radio Systems (GRS) developed according to ASTM standards. microLink and skyStation are 2X2 MIMO digital frequency hopping radios designed for UAS with an architecture supported by RTCA DO-362 and ASTM F3002-14a, providing deterministic, low-latency connectivity between the ARS and multiple GRS.
uAvionix CEO Paul Beard and inventor of spectrum radio, which has become the digital spread spectrum standard for the RC industry, explains: “Many in the industry are trying to implement wireless network standards that were developed for mass data transmission – not deterministic ones flight critical applications. This ultimately leads to lower performance and uncertainty. We have set ourselves the goal of developing a specially developed radio, network and architecture that combines modern digital radio technology with aviation standards in order to get the maximum performance out of a robust system in order to close the security case. “
uAvionix recently published an article entitled “A Radio Is Not a Radio” illustrating the importance of radio selection, which is available on the company’s website.