Today, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are making their mark in various industries, especially in government and defense operations. The global military drone market is progressing at an unprecedented pace, and the technology and its application to military operations continue to expand across the world. The growing global military UAV market is projected to reach $26.12 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 12.78%. The considerable increase in UAVs used for defense, EMS, fire, and law enforcement demands a groundbreaking approach to operate these autonomous vehicles safely and efficiently in first responder scenarios such as search and rescue missions, heavy lift cargo, fire response, and medical evacuation.
New technologies have real potential to assist first responders. For instance, UAVs could make response faster, more targeted, keep responders safer, and provide opportunities for missions impossible for manned aircraft. However, these UAVs also require unique air traffic management solutions, advanced communications to keep everyone aware of what’s happening on the ground and in the sky, and onboarding tools to let them operate safely.
Working to tackle these challenges
SkyGrid, in partnership with SparkCognition Government Systems (SGS) and LIFT Aircraft, has been awarded a contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) through its SBIR Phase II program to advance the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology for air traffic management.
Together, our companies will help enable the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to safely and efficiently operate unmanned aerial vehicles in first responder scenarios by applying AI and blockchain technology to manage the airspace for autonomous vehicles, specifically HEXA, LIFT’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
AI-powered platform to optimize air traffic management
Artificial intelligence is a key driver in revolutionizing air traffic management systems. Built on AI, the SkyGrid platform takes a smarter approach to aerial mobility.
For example, SkyGrid’s AI algorithms analyze crucial data, such as airspace traffic, local conditions, ground risks, flight restrictions, and weather forecasts to avoid hazardous conditions. Equipped with AI, in-flight monitoring to ensure safe operations and optimal paths is possible. Our system also monitors drone flights in real-time and notifies operators of anomalies, automatically generating new routes to avoid obstacles or restricted airspace.
AI-powered air traffic management enables intelligent deconfliction of flights based on real-world variables by sensing and avoiding other aircraft and objects with pre-flight and in-flight deconfliction capabilities. Continuous fleet health monitoring and predictive maintenance optimize drone fleets and reduce time to service with fleet performance recommendations. Our AI-based system automatically generates maintenance tickets and assigns them to technicians upon landing at a facility and tracks all drones, flight logs, and service records in a single dashboard.
Blockchain-based airspace management to ensure immutable data reporting
Blockchain technology helps eliminate the potential for human error in the airspace. Augmented with smart contracts, blockchain is the key to ensuring unmanned flights comply with the airspace rules and regulations.
An airspace system built on blockchain technology makes it easy for operators to share accurate flight plans in real-time and maintain high standards of auditability. Our blockchain-backed system assigns a unique ID to every drone and maintains a real-time record of each drone’s status, flight details (e.g., altitude, location, operator), and maintenance history, as historical flight logs are also crucial to ensure the security and integrity of data exchanged between operators, authorities, and service suppliers. Each flight log is linked to the previous record with cryptography, so they can’t be altered retroactively.
The decentralized nature of a blockchain system also provides more security than traditional, centralized storage since there’s not one database a bad actor can compromise. This approach enables authorities to analyze flight data and determine a sequence of events with certainty. It gives organizations a secure, accurate record of their flights to evaluate performance and optimize operations.
Leading the way to advance air traffic management
By combining SGS’s advanced AI technologies, SkyGrid’s AI and blockchain-based airspace management capabilities, and LIFT’s state-of-the-art UAVs, our companies will develop an air traffic management solution that provides defense, EMS, fire, and law enforcement with the means to advance their missions and more quickly respond to emergency situations.