Benefits of Software that Assist in Fleet Management

Drone Fleet Management

As the use of drones becomes more commonplace across industries for various crucial processes like deliveries and inventory management, the need for infallible drone fleet management is more urgent than ever. The evolution of technology such as artificial intelligence and blockchain has allowed for the introduction of comprehensive drone fleet management software that promises a lot more features than previous iterations.

Companies that rely on drones can track productivity and implement drone automation in tasks such as monitoring inventory, infrastructure inspections, remote sensing, and assessing overall productivity through this drone fleet management software. With the use of drone fleet management software, businesses can maximize their return on investment (ROI) and gain greater insights into their operations, as well as improve communications across their teams.

Advantages of Drone Fleet Management Software

High-quality software is able to offer better drone fleet management and improve operations in a number of ways.

Maintain an Organized System of Records

Drones are ideal for surveillance and inspection tasks. They can record data continuously over a long period of time, which provides companies the opportunity to pick up on trends and gain other insights through data analysis. However, the ability to do this with ease is only possible when the abundant data collected through drones is organized comprehensively.

The organization is a necessary part of drone fleet management. Drone fleet management requires precision which can only be accomplished well when the system of operations is organized. A crucial step to building and maintaining an organized system is creating a system of record for all kinds of fleet information. This includes data collected through inspections and surveillance, maintenance records, and documentation. Any data obtained through fleet operations need to be recorded within this comprehension system of record.

Remote Management

One of the biggest challenges in the drone industry is the control and management of drones in mid-operation. Previously, it was tough to control drones with a high enough degree of precision that warranted security and safety of operations. In addition to a lack of heightened visibility into operations, team communication was also subpar.

With the introduction of better systems and software that integrates the best of the latest technologies, this is less of an issue. Drone fleet management software creates a seamless medium of communication within and between. Employees can access real-time fleet information and use it to create and manage tasks effectively from anywhere. It also tackles the problems faced by drone operators by increasing visibility into operations. Drone operators can manage their tasks in real-time much more efficiently and remotely.

Better Compliance with FAA regulations

With drone operations gaining mainstream momentum, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) has been working to create regulations and guidelines to better control and manage the use of drones. To ensure the drone fleet’s best possible operations, complying with FAA’s regulations and requirements is imperative.

Regarding regulatory compliance, blockchain augmented with smart contracts can encode the airspace rules, such as flying below 400 feet during daylight hours, as mandatory parameters in a flight planning system.  Organizations can also use this technology to set additional company-wide safety standards for their commercial drone operations, such as flying with at least 20% battery life under 25 mph winds.  

The blockchain smart contracts automatically record information onto the ledger and execute the terms without human intervention. This approach helps automate compliance with the rules before flight authorization and during flight as airspace conditions change. It also helps ensure all drone operators associated with your organization are following the same rulebook.

Skygrid’s fleet management software improves the reliability and security of operations by employing artificial intelligence to predict, diagnose and optimize fleet performance. As the fleet increases in size, maintaining a standard or quality can become difficult without the proper fleet management software. Predictive AI technology can identify and resolve issues before they limit productivity and cause operations to stutter.

 

Skygrid has been a pioneer in the drone industry, combining the best of what technology has to offer, to develop solutions to problems faced in the drone industry. To learn more about how we can help improve your fleet management, visit us here!

How is Blockchain Revolutionizing Airspace Management?

blockchain and drones

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been the subject of interest in recent times for the convenience, flexibility, and efficiency they offer.  More than that, their potential to possibly revolutionize certain processes, businesses, and industries has been made apparent with the advancement of various technology fields, namely blockchain, artificial intelligence, and a combination of the two. 

Although the applications of drones are wide and varied, their implementation in the real world is yet to prove to be the takeover that it has the potential to be. Many businesses and industries are still doubtful of the security, safety, and reliability of drones. However, the emergence of blockchain and the subsequent advancements in the field have helped build a decentralized system that allows for maximum control access to the airspace. Higher levels of data integrity, safety, and security are ensured through this new system. 

A UAV traffic management system (UTM) has been used as a solution to create a more reliable and safe flight experience when it comes to commercial drones. Currently, the potential of the UTM system remains largely unrealized in its present form. It is not able to guarantee cyber security to any satisfying degree, and it is centralized and unscalable. 

 

Blockchain and How It Is Used 

The fundamental working principle behind blockchain technology is decentralization. Decentralization allows for information to be accessible to users within a distributed network. 

The question of trust and data integrity is answered when every user in the network has their own copy of the data. Corrupted data will be noticed easily by the rest of the network users, so the need for a Trusted Third Party (TTP) is overcome. Decentralization also allows for real-time, shared access and view of data. 

The advantages offered by implementing blockchain technology that is invaluable for a safe and secure drone flight and the drone operator are: 

  • Security 
  • Integrity 
  • Accuracy 
  • Efficiency 
  • Transparency 

With the help of both AI and blockchain, workflows are automated, and manual interference is almost completely minimized. Usually, operators would need to manually carry out all processes and implement the necessary changes, as well as keep up a continuous evaluation of the airspace. Flight paths would need to be planned, and steering clear of in-flight risks would require constant vigilance. 

However, planning, executing, and adapting a flight within the complexity of the airspace is no easy task, and the reliance on manual effort could prove to be a mistake. After all, humans are error-prone. 

Implementing blockchain technology means cutting through the manual effort to automate the workflow. Features added in this new system include: 

  • Accurate flight data 
  • Automated Compliance
  • Maintenance guarantees 
  • Systemwide auditability 

 

Building a Better System 

A more robust UTM system can be built to integrate drones in controlled airspace, removing the burden on operators and authorities by enabling more autonomous workflows. We’ll explore some key qualities of a UTM system powered by blockchain technology: 

  • An airspace system built on blockchain simplifies the process of sharing accurate flight data by removing the burden on drone operators. Blockchain technology can assign a unique ID to every unmanned aircraft and maintain a real-time record of each drone’s status, flight details (e.g., altitude, coordinates), operator, and maintenance history. This approach enables flight awareness for airspace authorities and provides situational awareness to other aircraft operators so they can maintain safe separation.
  • Standards compliance is automated so unmanned flights can be automatically and continuously monitored according to local regulations and custom safety standards, relieving the authorities of this duty. 
  • A blockchain ledger with smart contracts can help ensure drones are safe to fly. For example, if a maintenance request is created to replace a drone’s battery, a smart contract can ensure the request is resolved and signed off by a technician’s private key before the drone can operate again. This will prevent operators from choosing a drone that’s not equipped to complete a mission safely and securely.
  • Blockchain technology is the key to maintain high standards of auditability by providing a verified data source of all unmanned flight records and service logs. In a blockchain-backed airspace system, each flight log is linked to the previous log with cryptography so they can’t be altered retroactively. That means authorities can analyze flight data and determine the sequence of events with 100% certainty.

 

The features of blockchain, mainly decentralization and cryptography, help build a safe and secure system with additional features to automate as much of the process as possible while also offering key insights that will create a detailed, error-free drone operation. Technological advancements have opened up the possibility of a safer, more secure airspace by building a more comprehensive system that facilitates the commercialized use of autonomous aviation. The growth of fields like blockchain and AI presents an exciting future for integrated drones in the global airspace. 

 

Looking for a UTM system for ensuring a safe and secure flight experience? Contact us to learn more about airspace management powered by blockchain.

Drone Fleet Management Best Practices

Drone Fleet Management

Fleet management is key to an organization’s success, and when done well, it can boost a company’s profitability. The advancement of technologies has helped introduce many new and improved methods for better fleet efficiency, but many organizations have yet to move past outdated management techniques. Paper, spreadsheets, and other manual methods are unproductive and result in disorganization that can adversely affect operations. 

Drone fleet efficiency can be maximized by devising a strategy that focuses on visibility and collaboration. Leveraging software allows fleet managers to maximize productivity and make the most out of the data they have. Here are some methods to improve fleet management across an entire operation. 

 

Make the Best of What Technology Has to Offer 

The implementation of technology has improved processes and connections across industries and the world at large, and the drone industry is certainly not exempt. Many drones now come with collision-detection sensors, which lower risk by reducing the skills required to avoid a crash and guard against human error. Another new sensor detects and avoids nearby airplanes and helicopters. By leveraging technology for fleet management, the entire team behind the operation can stay connected in real-time. This helps make the most informed decision at every moment during a flight operation. 

It’s also not realistic to expect humans to track an entire drone fleet’s performance and maintenance records. Instead, fleet management software can apply artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to generate service logs, predict maintenance needs and automate fleet distribution, enabling drone operators and managers to intelligently assess, diagnose and optimize vehicle performance across their entire fleet. 

 

Develop a Comprehensive General Operating Manual 

It’s no surprise that a general operating manual also decreases risk. By ensuring that every team and pilot follows the standard operating procedures for every flight, you decrease the variables that lead to human error and establish a strong bedrock of accountability. 

A general operating manual should contain checklists and procedures concerning pilot training, equipment handling, maintenance, setup of the flight area, flight planning, regulatory information, data management, and anything else pertinent to your drone operations. 

 

Keep Detailed and Centralized Records 

Managing fleet data across different systems can be tricky. Fleet management software relieves the fleet managers and their team from this burden by integrating fleet solutions and providing an organized view of the fleet data. 

Centralized fleet data is much more useful as the time that would otherwise be spent sorting through the data and trying to make sense of it is reduced. A comprehensive view of data offered by fleet management software allows the team to analyze the data better and derive key insights from it faster. 

In this new environment, we also need a way to analyze drone flight records with assurances the data hasn’t been altered or maliciously tampered with. Blockchain technology can ensure flight logs are stored securely and accurately. Each flight log is linked to the previous log with cryptography, so they can’t be altered retroactively. This data can be offboarded from the aircraft rapidly and can’t be overwritten, enabling authorities to determine a sequence of events with 100% certainty. 

 

Manage Your Drone Fleet Remotely 

One of the biggest factors contributing to the success and efficiency of fleet management is constant communication between team members. A well-designed drone fleet management system connects the office and field. Each team member is constantly up to date with the condition of the flight and with one another. By streamlining communication and drone operations through software, you can stay connected to your team and manage your entire fleet remotely. 

 

Automate Maintenance Workflows 

When it comes to monitoring your vehicle health, predictive AI technology can remove the burden on operators by analyzing sensor data across your fleet and flagging suboptimal operations. An AI-based approach can more accurately monitor performance to forecast vehicle health and identify impending failures before they occur.  

If a potential issue is identified, such a degrading battery, AI technology can automatically generate a maintenance request and assign the request to a technician upon landing at a facility. Blockchain technology, augmented with smart contracts, can also be used to ensure the maintenance request is resolved and signed off by a technician’s private key before the drone can operate again. 

Organizations need to implement the latest technologies into their fleet management process to see the best results in terms of efficiency, as well as increased profits. Our platform optimizes fleet activity and performance by predicting maintenance needs and automating fleet distribution to facilities. Using AI algorithms, we analyze drone sensor data and activity history to provide real-time visibility into vehicle health, flag suboptimal performance, identify impending failures and automate fleet distribution. Our system also uses blockchain to audit operational data and safeguard unsafe vehicles from performing missions until maintenance issues have been resolved. 

 

SkyGrid has focused on various technologies such as AI to create optimized fleet management systems. Visit Skygrid to learn more. 

UAV Advantages and Disadvantages

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have created great ease in a number of operations and across various industries. The integration of the latest technologies has allowed for higher levels of reliability and a more reassuring degree of trust in the use of UAVs.
 

Advantages of UAV Drones  

One of the biggest reasons for the widespread use of drones is their ability to traverse and maneuver through areas that would be dangerous for humans to be in. Oil and gas refineries, pipelines, and flare stacks are examples where drones can be used to monitor the location for potential hazards and notify the relevant authorities if threatening conditions are detected. 

Apart from taking on dangerous tasks, drones can also monitor areas that do not necessarily pose a risk to human workers. Still, the reliance on human workers can add a considerable margin of error and accuracy. Drone automation shows potential for reducing this risk of error. 

For instance, the railway inspection system has been greatly improved by implementing drones. Now routine procedures such as defect detections and crack detections, both of which demand close attention to detect accurately, can be picked up on more quickly. Unlike humans, drones do not tire so inspections can be carried out more frequently, adding to the safety, dependability, and performance of railways. 

For industrial processes, precision is a need. UAVs employ the Global Positioning System (GPS) to be guided to the desired locations more accurately. The agriculture industry uses drones to carry out operations such as pesticide spraying, crop assessments, field soil analysis, and crop health monitoring. These operations require controlled precision of the area over which the operation is conducted. By using drones with the appropriate GPS built into their software, farmers are able to carry out these operations in a cost and time-effective manner. 

The ease with which drones can be operated and deployed has allowed users from a wide range of backgrounds, technical or not, to use drones. Over the years, the range of drones available has also become quite extensive. The availability of low-cost drones that are easily controllable is perhaps one of the reasons that drones have become mainstream. Operators do not need an extensive technical background to navigate a drone securely. 

With the use of technology such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, drones are now backed up with a secure and reliable system. With this heightened safety, drones are now used for high stake roles regarding security. Drones can be used to provide surveillance and security to organizations. This reliability also makes it useful in recovery and disaster missions.
 

Disadvantages of UAV

Although UAVs have become increasingly complex and efficient by using the latest advancements in technology, there is room to grow. 

One major concern that has increased as drones make it to mainstream use is privacy. UAVs can be hijacked or manipulated. They can also trespass into authorized areas such as airports and military zones. While convenient surveillance is an advantageous use of drones, it can become a disadvantage with severe consequences when done by third parties. While there have been measures taken, such as geofencing to restrict the movement of UAVs into authorized zones, there is still more to be done to secure public security and individuals’ privacy. 

These privacy risks are extended as fears of hacking are present with unmanned aircraft. The central control system of the drone can be attacked, and hackers can take over control of the drone. Private information can be extracted and then corrupted or completely damaged.  

Much has been done to increase the accuracy of control of drones within the ever-changing complexity of the airspace. This control becomes even more important when drones are used in heavily-populated areas. Drones need to operate at a level that eliminates the risk of harm to surrounding infrastructures and people.
 

The Growing Popularity of Drones

Despite the disadvantages, unmanned vehicles such as drones have become increasingly popular. The advancements in technological fields such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have allowed for the development of drone systems with upgraded and refined systems that provide greater security, safety, and efficiency to make drone missions more successful. 

 

SkyGrid has been a pioneer in developing drone systems with the best technology. Curious to read about how SkyGrid is solving the biggest industry challenges? Click here! 

Drone Automation Made Easy with SkyGrid Flight Control

Drone automation made easy with SkyGrid Flight Control

Drones have been the subject of interest in recent times for the convenience, flexibility, and efficiency they offer. More than that, their potential to possibly revolutionize certain processes, businesses, and industries has been apparent. They assess hurricane damage, deliver aid to devastated areas, inspect pipelines to prevent leaks in the oil and gas industry, and they have been used to develop reliable railway inspection systems.  

However, planning, executing, and adapting a flight within the complexity of the airspace is no easy task, and relying on manual effort could prove to be a mistake. After all, humans are error-prone. Drone automation is critical to scale operations safely and enable more advanced missions. 

At SkyGrid, we’re solving this challenge with a smarter drone solution that automates every phase of flight. Our free SkyGrid Flight Control app makes it easy to generate flight plans, get auto-approval to fly, and autonomously execute the mission. 

Check out a quick overview of our drone automation capabilities and read on for more details. 

How does SkyGrid automate drone operations?  

In our recent posts, we explored how SkyGrid Flight Control simplifies the flight approval process by integrating LAANC directly into the flight planning workflow. That means drone operators can seamlessly plan their mission, ensure their flight meets all LAANC criteria, and get auto-approval to fly. Rather than planning a mission after LAANC authorization, this approach ensures that all requirements are checked before you take flight. 

We also explored how SkyGrid Flight Control enables operators to automatically generate mission plans based on the flight parameters, such as the start and end time, altitude, speed, and distance between sweeps. Once the mission plan is finalized, our app allows operators to autonomously launch their drone, perform the pre-defined flight plan, and get real-time insights. 

More specifically, operators can take the following actions during flight: 

  • Autonomously execute single and multi-objective missions. 
  • Monitor your drone’s real-time camera feed. 
  • View real-time mission progress as you execute a flight plan. 
  • Pause and resume your mission. 
  • Take photos and videos during the flight. 
  • View native control functions, like camera settings, speed, heading and more. 

For example, gathering rapid situational awareness is crucial in search and rescue (SAR) situations. The faster rescue teams can locate a missing or injured person and coordinate a ground team response; the more likely the operation will result in a positive outcome. SkyGrid optimizes the distribution of drones over a defined space, calculating the most efficient routes for a vehicle within a given time frame. Drone operators can either define the area they wish to survey and the size of their fleet to determine the time necessary to survey a site or define the area and time required for a survey to determine the optimal search pattern to complete a mission.  

Operators also have the option to manually take control of the flight at any point in time during an automated mission. For example, during a pipeline inspection, an operator may identify an object of interest in the live video feed and take control to inspect the object more closely. 

Drone automation for pipeline inspection

Drone automation made easy for commercial pilots. 

We’re using AI and blockchain to interpret complex airspace, environment and vehicle data, solving the industry’s biggest challenges in executing autonomous drone operations and integrating unmanned aircraft into rapidly changing airspace. 

SkyGrid uses AI to uncover previously invisible characteristics hidden in airspace, vehicle, and location data to more intelligently monitor, route, synchronize and maintain unmanned operations. In addition to ingesting unique data feeds, such as cellular connectivity maps and ground-based traffic patterns, SkyGrid fills a former unsolved gap in airspace information by including real-time drone sensor data in our understanding of airspace. 

Our AI algorithms can analyze crucial data, such as drone sensor data and activity history, to provide visibility into vehicle health, aircraft performance and required maintenance. This helps us identify performance issues before they jeopardize the safety of people, infrastructure and other aircraft around them. 

We use blockchain to provide next-generation security and auditability, safeguarding the integrity of unmanned flight data and encoding airspace rules into flight operations as mandatory flight parameters. Airspace boundaries, thresholds, and safety parameters are encoded as blockchain rules to mandate compliance. All information transmitted through our system, including flight plans and historical logs, is tamper-proof and can never be altered. Past flight and service logs are easily accessible with telemetry data on when and where each flight occurred. 

SkyGrid is a unified platform that provides frictionless, end-to-end services for the drone ecosystem. Our integrated system enables everything from airspace management to fleet operations, offering a single platform that continuously monitors, predicts, and adapts to changing regulatory dynamics, aircraft performance, and location information, enabling a new degree of autonomy. 

Ultimately, we simplify drone operations with more automation in one application for pilots and enterprises. Rather than using several different apps to find up-to-date weather and environmental information, get LAANC approval, plan flights, and execute missions, SkyGrid Flight Control provides a complete solution to automate flight authorization, planning, and execution.  

 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the Apple App Store. You can also check our advanced enterprise features for more complex commercial drone operations.

Using Blockchain to Enhance Drone Security

Using Blockchain to Enhance Drone Security

With the advent of blockchain and subsequent advancements in the field over the years, the present blockchain technologies have allowed for a robust system of security in a vast range of industries, one of which is the drone industry. 

Blockchain has provided a more secure and reliable system that has helped increase the popularity of drones for mainstream use.  

 

Blockchain: The Whats, Whys, and Hows 

Blockchain technology has grown over the past ten years to become the go-to for record-keeping systems across the world. 

The fundamental working principle behind blockchain technology is decentralization. Information stored in the database is made accessible to all the users of the distributed network in which it is shared. Data integrity is reinforced as every user has their own copy of data to verify that information is accurate, complete, and consistent. This also eliminates the need for a Trusted Third Party (TTP), reducing the risk of fraudulent activity. 

In addition to decentralization, cryptography is another key feature of blockchain technology that helps keep data secure. Unlike traditional databases, blockchain stores data in ‘blocks’. Data is stored in a block until it is full. After one block is full, a new block is created for storing data, and it is linked to the previous block, so data is stored in chronological order. Blocks are linked to each other via cryptographic means which adds security and minimizes the risk of unauthorized access or alteration.
 

The Use of Blockchain in the Drone Industry 

Regina Houston, Chief of the Aviation Safety Management Systems Division at the U.S. DOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, has credited blockchain for being part of the solution to the collecting and sharing of reliable data about drones. When blockchain technology is integrated with other technologies such as machine learning, the registration, accountability, and tracking of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is improved by a large margin. This, Houston believes, opens up an entire world for better drone safety analysis, decision making, and regulation. 

While their applications are becoming increasingly varied, drones are still a concern when it comes to safety. Drone automation allows for them to be operated partially or entirely remotely. As they are unmanned, trust becomes a heightened issue. 

Blockchain has enhanced data security and integrity using protective policies and protocols. Other challenges that the drone industry is currently facing are:

  • Efficient air traffic management 
  • Reliability of conducting operations in high-traffic areas  
  • Security 
  • Privacy 
  • Ensuring flight violations are enforced 

Unmanned aircraft are constantly at the risk of faulty aircraft navigation or communications interference. This includes meaconing, intrusion, jamming, and interference. 

Along with Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain has been used to address cybersecurity concerns that have been able to tackle all of these vulnerabilities with a high degree of trustworthiness and reliability. Apart from security, drone management software that employs blockchain helps with air traffic management, conflict management, and flight authorization.  

Using blockchain’s distributed databases, in the case of an event that deviates from the planned course of a flight, such as a collision, data on the activity of the drone prior to the event can be extracted and used for investigation. This allows for better tracking of the drone during flight. This improved tracking system can also be used to ensure the drone is not violating the protocols set by regulations and custom safety standards. This method of tracking and storing data has enhanced security and integrity for many individuals within the industry.

  • Industry regulators can track and review drone flight data more easily. 
  • Insurance companies can use reliable data to insure any drone. 
  • Pilots or operators can more effectively avoid violations of regulations, improving their relationship with regulators. 

Drones are already being used to carry medicine and conduct even highly sensitive operations such as carrying organs for transplants. It can provide relief in firefighting operations, railway inspections, wildlife monitoring, and other such critical operations. When dealing with such critically sensitive operations, data security is of the utmost importance. The reliability and safety of operations have improved significantly by integrating blockchain technology to create better, improved systems that allow for more trust. This newer system has opened a world of possibilities for drones to make many operations easier and safer to carry out. 

 

Interested in learning more about blockchain and its impact on unmanned aviation? Contact us to learn more about our advanced enterprise features.

Geofencing Capabilities for Assuring No-Fly Zones

No-Fly Zone

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as drones have presented a new form of convenience and flexibility for businesses across several industries and sectors. A handful of leading organizations have test-driven drones for various purposes, and the results have been impressive. 

However, the security and reliability of drones are yet to be established to a comforting enough degree to reach wide-scale use. One reason for this is the constant in-flight risks exposed to an aircraft during its journey. Presently, a vital safety measure available today is geofencing. 

 

Geofencing: What it is and how it helps 

Simply put, geofencing is a virtual wall that restricts the movement of drones. It is done using a combination of technology like global positioning satellites, your drones’ internal software, radio frequency identification, and WiFi. Geofencing allows for stricter monitoring and prevention of aircraft flying into restricted areas or no-fly zones. 

Certain areas are generally more unsafe than others to fly through, and a virtual boundary is put up in these geographical areas. This helps drones steer clear of areas that are unsafe to travel through, for instance, heavily populated areas, airports, schools, government land and property, and prisons. Fencing off these areas also ensures these areas are kept free from any possible risks. 

The use of drones has become increasingly popular amongst the general public. After several unfortunate instances of unmanned drones flying into unauthorized areas or no-fly zones such as airports, geofencing has become a pressing necessity. 

 

Benefits of Geofencing 

One of the biggest benefits is the safety of the drone. Both the drone and the operator can rest easier knowing the chance of accidents is greatly decreased. In addition to accidents, it also eliminates the risk of drones flying into dangerous areas, saving both the drone and the operator from trouble. 

It is not unheard of for drones to fly into extremely inappropriate areas such as military bases. There is also the possibility of drones being flown into such sensitive areas to observe and photograph. As a result of this risk, there is an urgent security risk that is posed. To combat this risk to a large extent, the implementation of geofencing has added a more robust level of security to no-fly zones. 

 

Geofencing and No-Fly Zones: Putting Two and Two Together 

No Fly zones are made more secure with the addition of geofencing technologies. While highly sensitive areas such as military bases have been ordered to shoot down drones that fly into restricted areas, the implementation of geofencing will make this need redundant. 

Upon invading this area, you’ll receive a warning alert through the app you are using to fly your drone. And in some instances, geofencing renders the aircraft unresponsive, in which case your drone will stop flying to prevent you from entering. 

 

Integrating Geofencing for Increased Airspace Awareness 

For a securer approach to Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM), reliable levels of airspace awareness are essential for the best possible drone flight experience. This means dependable methods of generating unforeseen trends in the airspace and intelligently maneuvers through by using environmental data. 

The combination of AI and blockchain technologies lift the burden off of operators to manually keep track of the drone’s flight without failing vigilance. New routes can be automatically generated as conditions and regulations change. For instance, built-in systems help the drone automatically steer clear of no-fly zones. 

The operators can also establish safe areas before the flight, and a robust map of airspace, weather, regulatory, and location data can be used to keep track of these areas. These restricted areas do not necessarily need to be limited to government properties and airports. Being able to set one’s own geofences can help in instances such as training. To prevent the drone from being endangered under inexperienced hands, virtual boundaries can be set, and in the event that the drone loses control, there is no harm done as the aircraft will lose its movement. 

Geofencing is a thorough system that not only alerts the operator as soon as it encounters a no-fly zone so appropriate action can be taken but can also render the aircraft unresponsive designed to promote safe drone use and accountability. 

Looking for more information on how SkyGrid’s technology implements geofencing? Contact us to learn more about our advanced enterprise features.

Automation, AI & Blockchain: The keys to unlock BVLOS

Automation, AI & Blockchain

As drone technology becomes increasingly automated, the level of human involvement is shifting from remote pilots in the field to remote operators in the office. This approach can enable more scalability and operational oversight as enterprises grow their drone fleets to inspect pipelines, monitor crops, or survey infrastructure. However, several barriers still exist when it comes to safely enabling Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations. 

Let’s explore some of the things that are required to unlock BVLOS operations, including remote automation, safety & compliance rule enforcement, AI-powered cybersecurity, and more. 

Drones are disrupting various industries and innovating outdated business models. BVLOS enables UAVs to operate beyond the normal vision range of the pilot. BVLOS capabilities are becoming a quintessential aspect of the drone industry. They provide numerous benefits over the regular line of sight flights. They are cost-effective, energy-efficient with fewer takeoffs and landing phases, cover significant ground in a single flight, and drones’ low-altitude flying capability can help in high-resolution data collection.  

In many cases, businesses need to operate drones beyond visual line of sight to complete a wide range of missions, such as assessing hurricane damage and delivering aid to the devastated areas or inspecting pipelines to prevent leaks in the oil and gas industry. That means they’ll need more advanced technology in place to identify other aircraft, stay up to date on airspace changes, and safely reroute drones to avoid potential hazards. Let’s first consider the challenges commercial drone operators are facing today. 

Airspace management   

We all know there are many benefits to launching a drone operation, but navigating low-altitude airspace is complex. The burden has fallen on drone operators to manually evaluate the airspace, plan their flight paths, and avoid hazards as conditions change. But this approach isn’t scalable when you consider the volume of data operators are expected to evaluate for a successful mission. 

Today’s systems require too many manual workflows that limit scalability and leave room for error in the rapidly changing airspace. Drone operators are expected to monitor weather changes, avoid buildings and construction cranes, factor in risks on the ground, and comply with shifting regulatory dynamics. The burden typically falls on them to manually plan, execute, and adapt their flights as these conditions change.   

At the same, drone operators are challenged by disconnected systems. They typically have to use several different tools to check airspace conditions, plan and execute missions, and gather insights. But it’s a cumbersome process that leads to disconnected information as operators switch between different applications. 

  • Traffic: For starters, operators need to check airspace traffic, including both manned and unmanned traffic, to maintain safe separation. To minimize public safety risks, operators also need to evaluate activity on the ground below, such as roadway and foot traffic. 
  • Regulations: From a regulatory standpoint, they also need to check airspace classes and boundaries and monitor shifting dynamics, such as temporary flight restrictions and notices to airmen.  
  • Weather: Access to micro-weather data is also important to check precipitation, wind, temperature, and visibility. These factors can impact the flight path, battery life, and overall success of the mission.  
  • Infrastructure: Drone operators also need to evaluate local buildings, bridges, schools, stadiums, and airports to navigate around densely populated areas.   
  • Environment: They also must also check the local elevation and terrain to avoid potential hazards.   
Security and safety  

Those are just the external factors operators are expected to evaluate. Operators also have to consider the health and security of their aircraft. They’re ultimately responsible for protecting their drones from both intentional acts, such as cyber threats, and unintentional acts, such as hardware malfunction.  

  • Aircraft health: This requires operators to continuously monitor their vehicle health, but that becomes a lot more challenging as a fleet grows.  
  • Aircraft security: From a security perspective, operators also are expected to protect their drones from malicious activity. Just like the computers we use today, drones can be hacked if not appropriately secured, posing dangers to people and property on the ground.  
Automation, AI & Blockchain 

The bottom line is it’s not feasible to manually monitor and interpret this exceptional volume of data at scale. A new approach is required to simplify drone operations with a connected system that automates every phase of flight, removes the burden on drone operators, and allows operators to focus on overseeing the mission’s success. This is where advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain can help.  

AI algorithms are trained to analyze a large volume, variety, and velocity of data and instantly act on the insights. These algorithms automatically learn from patterns to uncover and act on trends hidden from the human eye. 

In technical terms, blockchain is a distributed ledger of immutable records stored in a decentralized database. In layman’s terms, it enables safe and accurate record-keeping across a network of computers, allowing multiple parties to interact with the same universal source of truth using a private key. “Smart contracts” are also a key component of blockchain technology. Smart contracts can be encoded on any blockchain to set rules mutually agreed upon by network members and automatically execute the terms without human intervention.  

When used in parallel, these advanced technologies can help eliminate manual workflows and enable safe BVLOS operations. Let’s walk you through a few examples.  

Automated flights:  

AI algorithms can be trained to calculate the optimal route for one or more drones based on the mission parameters, such as the start and endpoint, desired cruise altitude, timeframe, and payload details. These algorithms can also factor in airspace, vehicle, and location data, such as weather, terrain, population density, and roadway traffic, to generate routes that minimize risks in the air and on the ground.  

During the flight, the AI models will monitor, predict, and adapt to conditions as they change. This approach essentially removes the burden on commercial operators by enabling autonomous workflows that are safe and scalable as a fleet grows.  

Mandated compliance:  

When it comes to regulatory compliance, blockchain augmented with smart contracts can encode the airspace rules, such as flying below 400 feet during daylight hours, as mandatory parameters in a flight planning system. Organizations can also use this technology to set additional company-wide safety standards for their commercial drone operations, such as flying with at least 20% battery life under 25 mph winds.  

The blockchain smart contracts automatically record information onto the ledger and execute the terms without human intervention. This approach helps automate compliance with the rules before flight authorization and during flight as airspace conditions change. It also helps ensure all drone operators associated with your organization are following the same rulebook. 

Predictive maintenance 

When it comes to monitoring your vehicle health, predictive AI technology can remove the burden on operators by analyzing sensor data across your fleet and flagging suboptimal operations. An AI-based approach can more accurately monitor performance to forecast vehicle health and identify impending failures before they occur.  

If a potential issue is identified, such as a degrading battery, AI technology can automatically generate a maintenance request and assign the request to a technician upon landing at a facility. Blockchain technology, augmented with smart contracts, can also ensure the maintenance request is resolved and signed off by a technician’s private key before the drone can operate again. 

AI-powered cybersecurity 

In the emerging UAV environment, new security threats will often take the form of previously unseen, “zero-day” attacks. Traditional anti-malware software, dependent on signatures of known threats, won’t be adequate to detect this unknown malware. AI-powered cybersecurity will be critical to detect malicious activity on the edge and prevent it from executing on a drone.  

An AI-based approach can learn the DNA of what a malicious file might look like instead of relying on an existing threat database. This approach protects drones from never-before-seen attacks and can still function when network connectivity is non-existent or impaired. 

Systems today are largely disconnected and still rely on humans to manually plan their flights, comply with regulations, and adapt to changing conditions. Advanced technologies like AI and blockchain can enable a new, automated approach. This approach still relies on human input, but it allows more scalability by automatically planning, executing, and adapting flights as conditions change. It also enables enterprises to scale their drone operations by ensuring all pilots associated with their organization remain compliant with the regulations, business rules, and safety standards.

To learn how SkyGrid’s AerialOS can help improve your BVLOS operations, check out our overview page here or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.

 

Smart Drone Flight Planning with SkyGrid Flight Control

Smart Drone Flight Planning

At SkyGrid, we set out to simplify the flight planning process with more automation and efficiency.  

Our free SkyGrid Flight Control app provides a complete solution to automatically generate area sweeps and waypoint missions based on flight parameters, such as desired speed, altitude, and location. Drone operators can also generate flight plans to meet multiple mission objectives, such as area exploration missions over two or more defined areas. The burden typically falls on drone operators to manually plan and execute their flights, but it’s often a laborious, time-consuming process. Our mission planner eliminates the manual workflows by automating drone flight planning and autonomously executing the mission. 

Check out the quick overview from our team and read on for more details:  

The types of missions drone operators can plan 

SkyGrid Flight Control automatically generates mission plans based on the drone operator’s flight parameters, such as start and end time, desired speed, altitude, and location. In the SkyGrid Flight Control app, the following types of mission objectives are available for the operator to choose from. 

Path Missions 

Our path missions enable drone pilots to generate routes that follow a series of sequential, operator-defined waypoints that the drone will autonomously execute. The path missions could be useful for a wide variety of missions across inspections, public safety, security, and more. For example, operators can generate a path mission to surveil a perimeter around a high-security building, monitor swimmers along a beach shoreline, or inspect thousands of miles of oil and gas pipelines.  

During drone flight planning, operators can choose to have the drone auto-land at the end of the path or return home after the mission is complete.  

Drone Flight Planning - Path Objective

Free Flight Missions 

Our app also offers free flight capabilities, enabling operators to create flight boundaries where they can freely operate their drone. Free Flight missions are defined areas in which an operator can manually fly or choose to request LAANC only. This could be beneficial for commercial operators, especially when the area is less defined. For example, emergency responders using drones for fire protection, response, and reconnaissance, can set up a free flight mission around a designated area to detect people, vehicles, or animals in distress with our AI computer vision. The free flight capabilities allow them to concentrate on the most damaged areas within the response area in real-time. Free flight missions can also benefit recreational drone pilots, as it allows pilots to get LAANC in controlled airspace without requiring a flight plan.

Drone Flight Planning - Free Flight Objective

Area Exploration Missions 

Our area exploration missions are a series of parallel sweeps, or route paths, within a defined area that the drone will autonomously execute. This capability enables drone operators to automatically generate sweep missions to surveil a defined area. Based on their objectives, operators can specify the altitude they want to fly, the mission speed, and the distance between sweeps. For example, in search and rescue (SAR) situations, gathering rapid situational awareness is crucial; drone operators conducting a search and rescue mission may opt for 40-foot sweeps to ensure no area is left unchecked, while an operator surveilling a construction site may select 110-foot sweeps to get a high-level view of construction progress. 

Drone Flight Planning - Area Exploration Objective

Multi-Objective Missions 

Lastly, drone operators can create more complex mission plans with multiple objectives. For example, in the event of a traffic incident, law enforcement agencies could generate a path mission to the incident and combine it with an area exploration mission to gather situational awareness before emergency teams arrive. 

Drone Flight Planning - Multiple Objectives

Why use SkyGrid for drone flight planning? 

With flight operations, we simplify the dynamic airspace by enabling drone operators to automatically plan and execute optimal flight paths with AI-based route planning and deconfliction from other aircraft and obstacles. 

Based on your mission objectives, SkyGrid Flight Control will automatically generate a flight plan and autonomously execute the mission. Once a flight plan has been saved, operators can repeat the mission as often as needed. This simplifies routine inspections and surveillance missions that are conducted on a regular basis. 

 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the Apple App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.

Simplify Flight Authorization and Compliance with LAANC

LAANC Authorization

As more drones take flight, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) has become an increasingly important tool to automate drone flight authorization in U.S. controlled airspace under 400 feet. Under Part 107, drone pilots planning to fly in controlled airspace near U.S. airports must get FAA permission via LAANC, giving drone pilots near-real-time authorization to access controlled airspace at or below 400 feet while providing air traffic controllers visibility into when and where drones are operating.
 

What does it mean to be an FAA-approved provider of LAANC? 

The FAA shares airspace data with UAS Service Suppliers like SkyGrid through the UAS Data Exchange to help drone operators stay compliant with regulations. This data includes airport facility maps, airspace classifications, temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), and notices to airmen (NOTAMs). With LAANC, the FAA allows commercial (Part 107 Auto-Approval and Part 107 Further Coordination) and recreational (Section 44809) pilots to gain near real-time access to U.S. controlled airspace via SkyGrid, an FAA-approved UAS Service Supplier, in just seconds. 

At SkyGrid, we’re fueling our system with these data sources to help drone operators minimize risks and generate the optimal route every time. Our goal is to safely integrate all unmanned aircraft in the global airspace, which requires the most up-to-date information from trusted sources. 

Check out a quick overview of our LAANC services and read on for more details: 

 

Features and Benefits 

Our free SkyGrid Flight Control app simplifies the flight approval process by integrating LAANC directly into the flight planning workflow. That means drone operators can seamlessly plan their mission, ensure their flight meets all LAANC criteria, and get auto-approval to fly. Now let’s take a look at what our LAANC services enable drone operators to do: 

  • Receive real-time LAANC authorizations for Part 107 commercial and recreational drone operations under 400 feet in U.S. controlled airspace. 
  • Request further coordination to fly above the designated altitude ceiling in a UAS Facility Map, up to 400 feet. These requests can be submitted up to 90 days in advance, and the approval is coordinated manually through the FAA. 
  • Access UAS Facility Maps that show pre-approved ceilings in controlled airspace and specify if further coordination is available. See the example of the airspace ceilings below: 

Access LAANC with SkyGrid

  • View Special Use Airspace data, airports and airspace classes, Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs), and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs). 
  • Check for both part-time and full-time National Security UAS Flight Restrictions (NSUFRs). See the example of UAS flight restrictions shown in red below: 

Simplify Flight Authorization and Compliance with LAANC

Note: If you are planning an operation in controlled airspace that requires a waiver and an airspace authorization you must apply for both through the FAA’s Drone Zone. 

Why use SkyGrid’s LAANC services?  

As a trusted UAS provider of the FAA’s LAANC service, we help drone operators maintain safe and compliant flights by ensuring they’re aware of the class airspace, boundaries, and advisories in their area, such as TFRs and NOTAMs. 

We make it easy for drone operators to access controlled airspace under 400 feet near airports with near real-time flight authorization. Part 107 pilots can also submit a further coordination request to fly above the designated altitude ceiling in a UAS Facility Map, up to 400 feet. 

SkyGrid Flight Control integrates LAANC directly into the flight scheduling workflow. Moreover, it automatically generates area exploration, waypoint, and multi-objective missions based on custom flight parameters, such as desired speed, altitude, and location. As you can see below, LAANC is not required for the mission plan on the left, and LAANC is required for the mission plan on the right and auto-approval is available.

Simplify Flight Authorization and Compliance with LAANC

Rather than planning a mission after LAANC authorization, this approach provides more assurance that all requirements are checked before you take flight. We recognized the challenge many drone operators are facing today by using several different tools to check airspace, get LAANC, plan flights, and safely execute them, so we set out to solve this challenge by providing one solution operators can use to manage their entire drone workflow.

 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the Apple App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.