Advancing the Use of AI and Blockchain Technology for Air Traffic Management

SkyGrid Advancing the Use of AI and Blockchain Technology for Air Traffic Management

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. 

All-in-One Drone App for Pilots and Enterprises

SkyGrid Fllight Control All-in-One Drone App for Pilots and Enterprises

In case you missed it, we launched our all-in-one drone app, SkyGrid Flight Control, on the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad users across the world. After the positive response to our iPad application in the US, we had to make our app available to a global audience of drone users.  

SkyGrid Flight Control All-in-One Drone App

The skies are opening up for the drone industry, and SkyGrid Flight Control™ is leading the flock. As the only drone application powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies, SkyGrid Flight Control enables drone operators to manage their entire drone workflow with an all-in-one application, facilitating safe, secure, and efficient drone operations. 

We set out to solve the challenges many drone operators face today by automating every phase of flight in one solution, eliminating the manual workflows, and allowing drone operators to safely explore our shared airspace. 

Our easy-to-use airspace map includes advanced weather, location, and regulatory insights to make more informed decisions before you fly. Our drone flight planner minimizes manual workflows with automated mission plans and autonomous flight execution. As an FAA-approved UAS Service Supplier of Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) 4.0., SkyGrid also provides authorization to fly in controlled airspace in near-real-time.  

SkyGrid Flight Control All-in-One Drone App for Pilots and Enterprises

So why use SkyGrid for your drone operations? Bottom line, we do the heavy lifting. Our app makes it easy to explore the airspace and automate airspace authorization, mission planning, and flight execution to simplify your drone operations. 

Learn more about the app experience in our latest video: 

Stay tuned as we’ll have more insights to share from our product experts in the coming weeks! 

In the meantime, you can get started today by downloading SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the Apple App Store. You can also check out our advanced enterprise features, such as geofencing, custom object detection, and multi-drone missions, for more complex drone operations. 

A Holistic Approach to UAV Safety

SkyGrid Flight Control: A Holistic Approach to UAV Safety

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts the future of commercial UAS fleet by 2025. 

From autonomous drones to air taxis, the urban air mobility market has advanced rapidly over the last two to three years. These drones are performing real commercial tasks – they are delivering packages, conducting industrial inspections, providing emergency assistance, and will eventually transport people.  

Based on the latest data, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts the commercial UAS fleet by 2025 will likely number 835,000 vehicles. 1.7 times larger than the current number of commercial sUAS. More drones are expected to take flight in coming years spanning a wide range of civilian and commercial use cases, but all this comes with as-yet unaddressed challenges. Drone data integrity, maintenance, and drone deconfliction need to be addressed. These issues range in severity from inconvenient to dangerous. On the one hand, significant growth in drone numbers and capability is incredibly exciting, however, this also presents a major challenge in terms of effectively protecting aircraft systems from being attacked by zero-day cybersecurity threats remotely. 

SkyGrid: A Holistic Approach to UAV Safety
Preventing Malicious Activity with AI-Powered Cybersecurity

With the rise of communication between people and devices and the rise of computing performance, aircraft such as drones are not immune to cybersecurity risks that have become prevalent and critical issues for other industries. Large numbers of airborne drones are essentially a network of flying computers in the sky. Just like the computers we use today, these drones can be hacked if not secured properly, posing dangers when they are flying close to a crowd of people or a busy highway. 

In this emerging 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, will not be adequate to detect such sophisticated, new malware.  

AI-powered cybersecurity holds the key to detecting malicious activity on the edge and preventing it from making its way on to a drone or executing on its computer systems. An AI-based approach can learn the DNA – the structure – of what a malicious file might look like instead of merely relying on an existing threat database. This type of technology can function even when network connectivity is non-existent or impaired and can defend drones against zero-day threats. AI-powered cybersecurity will be key in ensuring public safety by providing an adaptable system that protects against never-before-seen attacks.  

Leveraging machine learning technology combined with a “defense in depth” approach can provide multiple layers of protection for an endpoint. Cognitive cybersecurity solutions enable more advanced airspace security than traditional anti- malware systems which remain reliant on signatures of known threats. In contrast to known signatures, heuristics, or other dated rules-based approaches to detect security threats, the DeepArmor® product uses patented machine learning technology and a layered protection strategy to protect a drone’s endpoints. Not only can DeepArmor® protect drones from known threats, its machine-learning detection engine also uses advanced classification algorithms to predict and prevent zero-day attacks, enhancing protection. 

SkyGrid A Holistic Approach to UAV Safety
A new era of protection for drones in defense

DeepArmor® is already proven and effective in the commercial sector. Now, the technology can be extended for use on UAVs within the defense industry to counter national security threats. Considering emerging threats as seen in the capture of the RQ- 170 by Iran are now a fact of life, an AI-based approach is critical to detect and prevent such cyberattacks. The DeepArmor® Aerial product can provide this detection and protection by deploying directly on drone hardware even when network connectivity is impaired or non-existent. 

Boeing and SparkCognition’s joint venture, SkyGrid, is taking this new, intelligent approach to security by employing AI to detect and prevent cyberattacks from impacting a drone, a payload, or a ground station. Integrated with SkyGrid’s airspace management system, AerialOS™, the DeepArmor® product can be deployed directly on drone hardware to extend AI protection and defend drones from sophisticated cyber-attacks. 

By Zehra Akbar, VP, Strategy & Operations of SkyGrid. This article was originally published in Cognitive Times Vol.17. 

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

SkyGrid Flight Control: One app for airspace, flights, and insights

SkyGrid Flight Control - Automated drone operations for pilots and enterprises

As drone technology advances, its applications are evolving rapidly across the globe. Drones are delivering medical supplies, samples, and pharmaceuticals. They’re assessing hurricane damage and delivering aid to affected areas. And they’re surveying oil pipelines to inspect damage and prevent leaks. 

From retail and logistics to healthcare and energy, drones are disrupting a wide variety of industries and upending outdated business models. Even with all this progress, drone operations remain comp- lex and challenging. The burden falls on drone operators to manually plan, execute, and adapt their flights in the rapidly changing airspace. They’re expected to monitor weather changes, avoid buildings and construction cranes, navigate around roadway traffic, and comply with shifting regulatory dynamics. 

But this approach isn’t scalable. As an organization’s fleet grows, it’s not feasible to manually plan and execute every flight that’s delivering a package, conducting an inspection, or responding to an emergency. Automation is critical to safely scale drone operations and enable more advanced missions. 

SkyGrid is addressing this challenge with a smarter drone solution that automates every phase of flight. Powered by SkyGrid’s AerialOS™, SkyGrid Flight Control makes it easy for drone operators to explore the airspace, automate airspace authorization, mission planning, flight execution, object detection, and get real-time insights in one end-to-end solution. We eliminate manual workflows by automating drone flight planning and autonomously executing the mission.

SkyGrid Flight Control: Powering The Next Generation of Aviation

Here’s how it works: 

1. Check airspace conditions

SkyGrid Flight Control provides detailed airspace, regulatory, and location data to help drone operators make more informed flight decisions. Our airspace intelligence includes advanced weather data, such as precipitation, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, visibility, and more. Our regulatory data includes airspace classes and advisories from the FAA, such as UAS flight restrictions. And our location insights include local buildings, obstacles, population density, elevation, and roadway traffic. 

SkyGrid Flight Control Airspace Conditions

2. Generate a flight 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. Our drone mission planner minimizes manual workflows with automated mission planning and autonomous flight execution. Streamline operations with AI-based route planning, intelligent rerouting and automated deconfliction from aircraft and obstacles. 

3. Get flight authorization

As a trusted supplier of the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), SkyGrid provides real-time flight authorization in U.S. controlled airspace un- der 400 feet. We simplify compliance by integrating LAANC directly into the flight planning workflow. That means drone operators can seamlessly plan their mission, ensure their flight meets all FAA requirements, and get auto-approval to fly. 

SkyGrid Flight Control: One app for airspace, flights, and insights

4. Autonomously execute your flight

Once the flight plan is generated and authorized, operators can connect their drone to autonomously execute the pre-defined flight plan. With a Part 107 Waiver, SkyGrid Flight Control can also support multi-drone missions by optimizing the distribution of multiple drones over a defined area based on a defined timeframe or fleet size. Our live video feed allows operators to monitor each flight simultaneously and pause missions as needed. 

5. Detect objects in real-time

During flight, drone operators can also detect key objects, such as vehicles, people, and animals, with our AI computer vision. This technology can be a powerful tool to quickly gain situational awareness after a traffic incident, identify potential threats near critical infrastructure, or detect defects in an oil and gas pipeline. Based on the needs of the mission, our algorithms can be trained to detect and track customized objects. 

SkyGrid Flight Control: One app for airspace, flights, and insights

Ultimately, we believe in a future where millions of autonomous aircraft of all shapes and sizes will take to the skies to move our goods, improve our agriculture, augment our security, and even provide safe transportation. SkyGrid Flight Control is the first step toward enabling this future. 

 

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

Best Places to Fly Drones in Texas

Pennybacker Bridge in Austin, TX

The top 10 sites to fly drones in Texas State covering 4 city regions. They are Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston.

One important thing to understand about flying a drone in any city is that under federal FAA regulations, you are either operating recreationally or commercially. 

  • Commercial drone pilots fall under the FAA’s Part 107 regulations, which require passing a multiple-choice test and becoming an FAA-certified drone pilot, which are laid out here. 

Recreational and commercial flyers can easily identify controlled airspace and get authorization to fly using our free SkyGrid Flight Control app. As an FAA-approved LAANC supplier, SkyGrid provides real-time flight authorization in U.S. controlled airspace within the pre-approved altitude ceilings. This service is available to both Part 107-licensed and recreational drone pilots. Reminder to always be aware of your local drone laws. Here is a helpful list of drone laws by US State. 

Note: The content on this page is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of legal counsel. When in doubt, follow the FAA’s guidelines. 

Now let’s dive right in with some of the best places to fly drones in Texas and its larger cities. The favorable drone skies listed here are great choices for amateur and professional pilots.  

The Best 10 Locations to Fly Drones in Texas State 

Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of Texas, it is culturally rich, demographically diverse and has one of the finest research universities in the world. Here are 3 of the best places to fly drones in and around Austin area. 

austin_best_locations_to_fly_drones_in_texas
Austin, Texas
#1 Pennybacker Bridge Overlook 

Pennybacker Bridge Overlook (which is also known as the The Austin 360 Bridge) is an architecturally pleasant bridge on Austin’s west side that allows Highway 360 and pedestrians to cross Lake Austin/the Colorado River. This bridge is commonly photographed for Austin promotion/tourism brochures. The bridge also has a wonderful overlook accessible by this trail that is well worth a quick stop if passing by. It is a beautiful spot, and one with incredible sunsets.  

Location: N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78730, USA 

#2 Sand Beach Park 

There are some stunning drone-friendly stretches along the Colorado River, and one of those is Sand Beach Park, TX (sometimes also called Open Room). It has a beautiful piece of usable community art–a large sculpture in the form of a picnic table, and a wide-open green space from where you can operate drones. The attractions for aerial footage are picturesque views of the city skyline and surrounding riverscape. Bridge lovers can get some great shots here of the James D. Pfluger Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge providing access to Lady Bird Lake. 

Location: 111 Sandra Muraida Way, Austin, TX 78703, USA 

#3 Miruna Park 

Miruna Park is located on Windy Point which extends out onto Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. It’s a beautiful spot, popular for its clear blue waters and picturesque scenery. Visitors come here to relax, enjoy picnics, camping, and more. Drone pilots love this location to get footage of the impressive 18,930-acre lake and surrounding landscape.  

Location: 6506 Bob Wentz Park Rd, Austin, TX 78732, USA 

San Antonio is a major city in south-central Texas with a rich colonial heritage. Here are 2 of the best places to fly drones in and around San Antonio area. 

san_antonio_best_locations_to_fly_drones_in_texas
San Antonio, Texas
#4 Comanche Lookout Park 

The green, scenic 96-acre Comanche Lookout Park in Bexar County has a unique vantage point. The site includes the fourth highest point in of 1,340 feet, and on top of the hill is the stone four-story Comanche Tower. The tower and its surrounding views creates some exciting aerial drone footage of this unusual scenery. 

Location: 15551 Nacogdoches Rd, San Antonio, TX, USA 

#5 Denman Estate Park 

San Antonio’s 21-acre Denman Estate Park is an blissful spot. The main attraction is the large pond, shaded by mature oak trees and the Korean monument, hand-crafted by artisans from our sister city Gwangju, Korea. Other park attractions include a scenic trail and the large open green field for recreation activities. Drone pilots can capture some impressive footage here. 

Location: 7735 Mockingbird Ln, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA 

Dallas is a modern metropolis in north Texas and is the commercial and cultural hub of the region. Here are 3 of the best places to fly drones in and around Dallas area. 

dallas_best_locations_to_fly_drones_in_texas
Dallas, Texas
#6 Lake Cliff Park 

The 45-acre Lake Cliff Park sits between leafy Oak Cliff and Dallas CBD, built around a sunken lake that forms the core of the naturalistic landscape. It is well over 100 years old now, but it is more popular today than it has ever been. Visitors get to enjoy relaxing green spaces, a small lake, water features, and scented rose gardens. Bounded by bald cypress, eastern red cedar, pecans, and cottonwoods, the lake reflects the downtown Dallas skyline behind the serene lake that is especially appealing for pilots of camera drones. 

Location: 300 E Colorado Blvd, Dallas, TX 75201, USA 

#7 Lewisville Lake 

Few drone pilots can resist filming recreational reservoirs given a chance. The 29000-acre Lake Lewisville in North Texas is inviting. It boasts over 200 miles of shoreline, wooded parks, and huge expanses of blue water. Make sure you bring spare drone batteries. This park is filled with activity around the facilities of Party Cove. Some of those include fishing, boating, swimming, camping, hiking, dining, and more. 

Location: 600 Sandy Beach Rd Lewisville, TX, USA 

#8 White Rock Lake Park 

You can find the 1015-acre White Rock Lake Park just 5 miles northeast of Dallas, TX. This remarkable reservoir is the result of damming the 30-mile White Rock Creek. It offers a clear setting for camera drones with sweeping views of the vast lake and landscape surrounding the lake. There are plenty activity options to enjoy here when you’re not flying. Examples include boating, cycling, hiking, strolls along the pier, and more. 

Location: E Lawther Dr, Dallas, TX 75218, USA 

Houston, America’s fourth-largest city is a cosmopolitan destination, filled with world-class dining, arts, hotels, shopping, and nightlife. Here are 2 of the best places to fly drones in and around Houston area. 

houston_best_locations_to_fly_drones_in_texas
Houston, Texas
#9 The Kemah Boardwalk Amusement Park 

The Kemah Boardwalk is a 60-acre Texas Gulf Coast theme park in Kemah, Texas, approximately 30 miles southeast of Downtown Houston, Texas. It is an exciting, colorful, and vibrant place, considered by many as the country’s best boardwalk. Aside from the amusements, Kemah Boardwalk also boasts some amazing waterfront restaurants and stores. The attractions are appealing for pilots of camera drone users are plentiful. Trinity bay is an excellent place to film the water and surrounding urban landscape safely. Point to note: Please be mindful of FAA regulations when flying close to people, especially crowds. 

Location: 215 Kipp Ave, Kemah, TX 77565, USA 

#10 Terramar Beach 

The Terramar Beach is a Galveston residential and recreational space about 20 miles to the southwest of downtown. The community allows public access to its beach. It is a favorite for birdwatching, boat launching, and the local marina. This is an ideal place to operate drones. Consider a trip here if you would like to add breathtaking views of West Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico to your portfolio. 

Location: Galveston, TX 77554, USA  

There are numerous places of natural beauty and distinct urban skylines in the state of Texas. Remember to do your homework and check Local laws before you take to the skies. Drone pilots can easily identify controlled airspace and get authorization to fly using our free SkyGrid Flight Control app.  

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

Download

Solution for Autonomous Remote UAV Operations

Considering the emerging drone environment and the exponential drone growth occurring across enterprise industries like agriculture, construction, mining, insurance, oil, gas, and law enforcement. Businesses are compelled to make changes to remain competitive and companies must look towards advanced digitization and automation to stay ahead of the curve. Advanced technology, airspace data and artificial intelligence is critical to provide a more simplified, efficient, cost-effective approach to autonomous operations.  

SkyGrid provides a ready-to-use solution that lets you remotely control and manage drones and view live video feed with ease for autonomous drone operations. 

Organizations can use SkyGrid to facilitate routine inspections over an area of interest and generate optimal flight paths for multiple flight segments. These optimized segments are then linked automatically to create complete routes. Our advanced route generation capabilities create the safest route for each drone based on the flight plan, environmental conditions, the vehicle’s performance, and the mission criteria with minimum onsite support required for flight operations.  

Enabling autonomous remote drone operations for single and multiple drones reduces operational costs by pooling human, financial and material resources. It improves safety by eliminating the need for field workers to physically inspect faulty power lines to identify an issue and provides immediate access to critical insights to prevent and solve potential issues with real-time live video feed. With the new remote UAV operations functionality, SkyGrid will now allow remote operators to create and deploy these automated missions to a fleet of geographically disbursed aerial vehicles. 

Features: 
  • Remote Fleet Control – Plan flights and manage drone fleets remotely via SkyGrid Remote Command. 
  • Live HD Video Feed – Rapidly deploy drones and stream live, high quality video to remote ground station. Get expert eyes on scene monitoring all active flights in real-time with details on each drone’s mission progress, location, altitude, battery life, and more. 
  • Integration with Computer Vision Models – SkyGrid enables customers to integrate Computer VIsion Models with their drones’ Live HD Video Feed enabling automatic detection and alerting for objects of interest. 
  • Customize airspace & flight rules – Set up geofences, customize pre-flight checklists, and establish in-flight monitoring parameters to enforce flight rules for different missions and aircraft.  
  • Fully Automated Operations – Set and execute your flight parameters to automatically generate advanced sweep, waypoint, and multi-objective missions.   
  • Assign pilots and aircraft – Assign RPICs, visual observers, and add aircraft to support each mission. 
  • Drone fleet insights – Gather insights on the performance of your fleet and schedule maintenance requirements before your next mission. 
  • Easy Flight Information Access – Access all flight information and video streams on a single dashboard with an easy-to-use interface. 
Solution for Autonomous Remote UAV Operations
How SkyGrid’s Enterprise Remote UAV Operations works: 
Initiate 

Assign RPICs, visual observer, and add aircraft to support your mission. Set up geofences, customize pre-flight checklists, and establish in-flight monitoring parameters to enforce flight rules for different missions and aircraft. Set and execute your flight parameters to automatically generate advanced sweep, waypoint, and multi-objective missions. Send a field operative on-site with a drone or fleet of drones. Turn on the drone. The drone is now ready to be connected by the remote operator. 

Connect, Fly, Stream  

Once connected, the remote operator can initiate drone flight and is able to effectively control the drone using a simple and intuitive interface. Geofences aid in avoiding hazards and optimize routing. Advanced automated flight features pilot the drone to pre-defined locations or routes. UAV progress is tracked throughout flight with live UAV feed and metrics streamed in real-time. remote operators can switch feeds to any fleet UAV currently flying.  

Manage Date, Users, and Drones  

Our software provides the tools to create, archive, and manage everything you need for your operation: 

  • Flight Plans: Make your drone flight plan prior to flight. Reuse flight plans to facilitate routine inspections. Create unlimited flight plans and view, modify, or archive flight plan details. Specify waypoints, fly manually, or select an area to cover. Advanced route settings enable maximum control over route. 
  • Flight Data: Flight instructions capture your pre and post flight actions. Telemetry data and flight history provide insights into how drones are being used for your business and by which users aid in planning of maintenance, fleet expansion, and location reach. 
  • Videos & Photos: Access all your flight information and video streams on a single dashboard with an easy-to-use interface. 
  • Drones: Manage your drone fleet, location, status, capabilities, and historical data.  
  • Secure Access: Our portal provides secure access for you and your team. Authorize member access, assign crews to flights, and provide secure streams to enable your team with a safe operation. 
Remote Fleet Control
Solution for Autonomous Remote UAV Operations
See it in Action: 

SkyGrid Flight Control is an end-to-end airspace management system that uses AI and blockchain to provide a more simplified, efficient, cost-effective approach to traditional UAV operations. It is built for drone operation managers, subject matter experts, and operators. SkyGrid Enterprise Remote UAV Operations enables drone deployment with a few clicks, allowing you to manage everything, on one dashboard, for a flawless experience. 

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

Chartering the Future of Logistics with Drones

chartering-the-future-of-logistics-with-drones

In 2020, more than 100 billion packages were transported, and that number is expected to double by 2030. However, along with this exponential growth, companies are facing increasing costs, unprecedented market demands and growing labor shortages. Businesses are compelled to make changes in order to remain competitive and companies must look towards advanced digitization and automation to stay ahead of the curve.  

Innovative technologies have led to the next big industry unlock throughout the history of logistics, from the invention of the steam locomotive allowing for easier, cheaper, and faster long- distance transport of goods to IBM’s first warehouse management system revolutionizing orders, inventory, and distribution tracking. It is time for the next new normal. Autonomous logistics operations are paving the way for a big disruption. McKinsey & Company expects that, as smart warehouses and autonomous vehicles are widely adopted, logistics costs will fall by up to 40 percent.  

Drones play a key role in charting this future, speeding up efficiency and productivity, while lowering costs across the logistics value chain. Drone delivery will have a transformative effect on the entire supply chain, improving order fulfilment, warehouse operations, inventory management, and more. Look at three ways drones will be changing the logistics sector:  

Revolutionizing Last Mile Delivery  

‘The cost of global parcel delivery, excluding pickup, line-haul, and sorting, amounts to 70 billion dollars.’2 Not only is the market large, it is also extremely price sensitive, with the bulk of consumers preferring options with cheapest delivery. According to Goldman Sachs, using drones and robots could bring costs down by more than 80 percent for last mile delivery. Drone deliveries will allow for shipping that is both cheap and fast, for rural and urban locations alike. This will transform last mile experiences given that the cost and timing of deliveries has previously remained inversely correlated. Drones will be used in combination with other autonomous ground vehicles to increase efficiency. However, we can expect traditional delivery to continue existing for a small segment that require special handling or human decision making, such as that in e-groceries.  

Enhancing Warehouse Efficiencies  

While last-mile delivery has been dominating the discussion for drone technology, the impact autonomous aerial vehicles will have in warehouse management is not any less impressive. We can expect to see a complete change in how warehouses approach key operations and layouts. Drones will be used to count inventory, carry small packages within warehouses, conduct inspections and ensure perimeter safety. Walmart is currently testing drones for taking stock of trailers and other items in the parking lot of a warehouses.  

However, these changes might require an overhaul of how warehouses and distribution centers are currently laid out to accommodate autonomous robots and aerial vehicles in the same space. Today’s single story large docks might not be needed to accommodate for large ground fleets. We can also predict that supply chain processes would change significantly with these structural warehouses change.  

Transforming the Workforce  

With increased digitization, we can expect that the logistics workforce will face a shift in the desired skill sets. While some areas of work for employees will become deskilled and replaced with sensors and software, others might require employees to become more skill intensive. Ability pilot a drone if needed, carry our basic debugging while in route and knowledge of multi-modal transport systems might become job requirements.  

While the long-term transformation will be substantial, we can expect this to be felt in gradual steps, rather than a giant leap. The industry is taking a crawl, walk, run approach to adoption of this technology and this will give the workforce time to adjust accordingly.  

Bringing Data and Privacy to the Forefront  

Drone deliveries will bring privacy to the forefront like never before. Logistics companies will be faced with an entirely new wave of system security requirements and data laws. While we can expect regulation to define privacy rights, logistics companies will now have access to a world of data that is not only vast, but also more private. Imagine a drone delivering a parcel in a neighborhood. On the way to the delivery, the drone has aerial access to not one but many private properties. Maintaining how, when, and why this data is shared and ensuring compliance will be no small task. Other concerns will include susceptibility to hacking or theft, invasion of privacy, and collision liability, with potentially high insurance costs.  

While we may still be years away from this new normal, the drone industry has seen greater exponential growth and wider adoption in the last few years than ever before. Regulators are taking a more forward-looking approach to innovative technologies. Drone manufacturers, software developers and service providers are working closely with the logistics sector to prove out technologies, one step at a time. For example, SkyGrid is developing a solution that can enable multiple parcel deliveries autonomously and at the same time, while the operator is situated in his delivery vehicle or miles away from the delivery location.  

Depending on how quickly existing technology limitations are addressed and regulations are implemented, millions of drones may be in the skies sooner than we expect. 

By Zehra Akbar, VP, Strategy & Operations of SkyGrid. This article was originally published in Cognitive Times Vol.16. 

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

HyperWerx: Building the Future

HyperWerx: Building the Future

Amir Husain is the CEO & founder of SkyGrid, provider of airspace management services for commercial drone operators, enterprises, and aviation authorities. Husain explains how building the HyperWerx campus will showcase what AI really can do for SkyGrid and its partners. 

What is the vision for SkyGrid’s use of the HyperWerx facility? 

HyperWerx is a one-of-a-kind autonomy facility where SkyGrid and our partners can test complex systems, build, design, deploy, and showcase how AI, drones, sensors and other exponential technologies come together to solve important social problems and create large-scale economic opportunities.  

At HyperWerx, SkyGrid will bring next-generation autonomous aviation to life – end to end. This includes flying and testing drones, integrating them with AI algorithms, experiencing first-hand the limitations of commercial systems, the peculiarities of GPS receivers, image enhancement technology and the criticality of sensors and flight controllers. In a nutshell, exploring the art of the possible and expanding its boundaries.  

How is HyperWerx different from other testing facilities?  

The work at HyperWerx ranges from software to hardware, from fabrication to testing, and goes well beyond supporting just aerial robots. The capabilities available to us at HyperWerx are incredibly robust, and we will continue to add differentiated elements on the campus as time goes on.  

HyperWerx represents a unique ecosystem and community. In addition to SparkCognition and SGS, our key strategic partners, including Boeing and Raytheon, are also involved. Broadly, HyperWerx allows for collaboration with academia, commercial, and defense partners at the facility, who are able to work on challenging projects together. HyperWerx will be a hub for one-of-a-kind collaborations with leading minds across industry.  

What will HyperWerx allow you to do now that they have opened building one? 

HyperWerx will allow us to carry out physical integration with a variety of sensors, test guidance and swarm algorithms, monitor drone safety and performance, develop requirements for next generation versions of the SkyGrid platform, aerial-terrestrial integrated autonomous systems, and much more. 

Who are the HyperWerx partners? 

We are joined in our efforts by SparkCognition and SparkCognition Government Systems (SGS) and are already in discussions with leading enterprises and research institutions who will join us on what promises to be an amazing journey. The work we are doing with Boeing and Raytheon will also be featured significantly at HyperWerx. Together, we will work to imagine, prototype and build revolutionary new systems that accelerate our collective transition into a magnificent future, one which I hope will exceed our wildest imagination. 

Are all solutions developed at HyperWerx experimental, or are there products that are currently being sold to customers?  

Various systems ranging from experimental to production systems are being built and tested at HyperWerx. Some of these include autonomous control systems, hybrid UAVs, advanced computer vision systems, autonomous control systems and SkyGrid’s unmanned traffic management platform.  

Why did you choose this location?  

SkyGrid is headquartered in Austin, and the 50 acres of land on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, provides ample resources and space for testing. Austin is culturally rich, demographically diverse and has one of the finest research universities in the world. UT Austin’s computer science department, for example, ranks #6 and its prowess in the field of AI is arguably ranked even higher. HyperWerx will only continue to push the city forward as one of the world’s leading tech communities in Austin’s growing tech ecosystem.  

What are the future plans for HyperWerx? When will the development of the facilities and land be complete?  

Building One of HyperWerx is just the first of many phases we envision in the development of the HyperWerx campus. The campus will continue to see the addition of facilities and robust capabilities, including new structures, test ranges and support for industry specific scenarios. 

What excites you most about the HyperWerx facility? 

What excites me about HyperWerx is not just that it represents the growth of the company, but mostly that it will provide our clients, partners, and team with a laboratory within which to roll up our sleeves and build the future. Personally, I have no intention of merely watching this process unfold from the sidelines. I intend to be right beside our partners and our team – those brave architects of the future – neck deep in the heady business of building, testing, deploying and perfecting products that will tangibly fulfill the promise of the AI revolution.  

Top Drone Mistakes (Part 4): Operating in No-Fly Zones

Top Drone Mistakes (Part 4): Operating in No-Fly Zones

Where can I fly my drone? This should be the first question you ask before taking flight. However, many drone pilots still make the mistake of operating in no-fly zones, also known as no drone zones. These areas include the airspace around airports, stadiums, emergency situations, and more. 

Pilots who operate drones in no-fly zones are not only giving the industry a bad rap, they’re also putting lives at risk. To avoid these scenarios, we kicked off a new series on the top drone mistakes in 2021 and beyond. In Part 3, we covered the top mistakes around the flying in adverse conditions. This time we’ll focus on the top mistakes when it comes to operating in no-fly zones. 

 

Mistake 1: Flying in U.S. controlled airspace without flight authorization

Always should check the airspace classes and altitude ceilings in your area before taking flight. If flying in U.S. controlled airspace (Class A, B, C, D or E), flight authorization is required. Controlled airspace is typically found around airports and at certain altitudes where air traffic controllers are actively directing/separating manned aircraft. See how the FAA defines the airspace classes below:

drone no fly zones

Drone operators are prohibited from flying in controlled airspace without authorization. Although it sounds complex, drone pilots can easily identify controlled airspace and get authorization to fly using our free SkyGrid Flight Control app. As an FAA-approved LAANC supplier, SkyGrid provides real-time flight authorization in U.S. controlled airspace within the pre-approved altitude ceilings. This service is available to both Part 107-licensed and recreational drone pilots.

 

Mistake 2: Flying higher than 400 feet above ground level

When flying in uncontrolled airspace (Class G), drone pilots should never fly higher than 400 feet above ground level. This FAA rule helps minimize any potential collisions between manned and unmanned aircraft. Keep in mind the 400-foot limit is measured above the surface, so drones can still fly 400 feet above a cliff or building, as long as they’re in uncontrolled airspace.

When flying in controlled airspace (Class A, B, C, D or E), the altitude ceilings are absolute values above ground level. These altitude limits should NOT be added to the height of any structures. Pilots can find the altitude ceilings in controlled airspace within the SkyGrid Flight Control app.

 

Mistake 3: Flying within national UAS restricted zones

No matter if you’re flying in controlled airspace or not, it’s always important to check for National Security UAS Flight Restrictions (NSUFRs) in your area. These no-fly zones are often issued around military bases and high-security facilities and events. Operators who violate these flight restrictions may be subject to civil penalties and criminal charges. Pilots can find the areas labeled as NSUFRs in the SkyGrid Flight Control app.

 

Mistake 4: Flying near emergency situations, such as fires and vehicle collisions

Hopefully you already know this is big no no! Flying your drone near an emergency situation can prevent first responders from doing their jobs effectively and put lives at risk. For example, if a drone flies near a wildfire, fire response teams are often forced to ground their aircraft to avoid the potential of a midair collision. A drone flying near a traffic incident can also hamper police or medical aircraft operations. Ultimately, interference by a drone can cost lives.

 

Mistake 5: Flying near sporting events or stadiums

Unless authorized, drone pilots are also prohibited from flying in and around stadiums during events, starting one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled event time. These events include concerts, sporting events, and races in stadiums and venues that seat 30,000 people or more. The no-fly zone covers a radius of 3 nautical miles of the stadium and up to 3,000 feet above ground level.

And that’s a wrap! We hope this series will help clarify some of the misconceptions around the drone rules and best practices. 

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

Download

Top Drone Mistakes (Part 3): Flying in Adverse Conditions

Drone Flying in a Storm

As drone operators it is essential to recognize how important it is to have access to detailed, up-to-date airspace intelligence before taking flight in case anything unforeseen happens. In Part 2, we covered the top mistakes when it comes to not following drone best practices. This time we’ll focus on the top misconceptions around flying in adverse conditions. 

No matter if you’re a new drone hobbyist or an experienced commercial pilot, this list is a good reminder of what NOT to do when operating drones. 

 

Mistake 1: Flying in cold weather without pre-heating your battery 

In general, flying in cold weather will drain your battery faster, so keep a close eye on it! Making sure your battery is warm enough before flight will help. It’s recommended to pre-heat your battery to 68°F (20°C) or more. If you don’t have a battery heater, hover in place before taking off to make sure your battery warms up. The SkyGrid Flight Control app will show your battery’s temperature so you can check it before and during flight.  

 

Mistake 2: Flying in freezing temperatures  

Some manufacturers recommend avoiding temperatures below 14°F (-10°C), while others caution against any temperature below freezing (32°F or 0°C). Extreme cold weather can cause an unexpected power drop, or even cause batteries to fail completely. Cold weather can also dull a drone’s sensors, which may lead to a slower response from the control input. 

 

Mistake 3: Flying in temperatures above 104°F 

In many cases, drone manufacturers also recommend avoiding high temperatures above 104°F (40°C). Prolonged exposure to high heat will likely reduce the life of your battery. You also risk melting the internal wires and plastic. Also keep in mind that hot weather is often accompanied by humidity, which can damage your drone’s motor, camera, or gimbal. Always check the temperature and humidity before flying and ensure you wipe down your drone before and after flights.  

Pilots can check the local temperature, humidity, wind speed, precipitation, and more in SkyGrid Flight Control. The app shows microweather data within a 500-meter radius that’s updated every 60 seconds, which makes it easy to avoid unexpected weather conditions.  

 

Mistake 4: Flying in winds speeds above 24 mph 

Among the most popular drones, few are equipped to fly above 24 mph winds. For example, the Mavic 2 Pro can be flown in max wind speeds of 24 mph, but the Mavic Mini can only withstand up to 18 mph winds. Always check the max wind speed of your drone, but it’s likely safe to assume wind speeds of 25 mph and above are too dangerous to fly in and can lead to a collision. 

 

Mistake 5: Flying without a pre-flight checklist 

Ultimately, drone pilots should establish a routine before taking flight that includes checking your drone and gathering situational awareness. Pre-flight checklists commonly include recharging the battery and controller, recalibrating the compass, assessing the propellers, and confirming GPS connectivity. It should also include checking local conditions in the air and on the group. Our latest guide on improving your pre-flight checklist can help.  

 

Mistake 6: (Bonus!) Flying without remote ID technology  

Don’t be alarmed… remote ID technology isn’t required in the United States yet, but it will be by Summer 2023. At this time, drone manufacturers will be required to produce drones that broadcast their location, and drone pilots will be required to fly a compatible drone. You can get more details in our latest remote ID guide  

Stay tuned for Part 4 where we’ll focus on the top drone mistakes when flying near restricted areas. In the meantime, check out our new drone app to that includes advanced weather data, such as precipitation, temperature, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, visibility, and more. 

 

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

Download