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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
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.
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.
The use of drones in the commercial sector has skyrocketed in the last few years, and their potential is still yet to be fully seen. In 2016, the FAA defined the procedures for commercial drone use, and since then companies have increasingly turned to the new technology to support a number of business-facing priorities.
How drones are expected to impact multiple industries
The drone market size is expected to grow to a massive $63.6B by 2025, with much of that growth being driven by enterprise adoption in the agriculture, construction and mining, insurance, media and telecommunications, and law enforcement industries.
Because drones are able to get to hard to reach locations, they make perfect devices to assess the damage after a disaster, properly assess a construction site, and analyze farm fields to ensure crop output. Drones are also expected to make a huge impact on warehouse operations, improving overall inventory management, providing logistical support, and inspecting conditions that can help maintain a warehouse’s longevity.
Drones are also expected to be a major contributor to last-mile delivery, leading to deeper discounts companies can use to pass on to their customers and increase their market share.
But how organizations integrate and incorporate drones as part of their business development plans will be key in ensuring the technology makes a transformational impact. Several executive leaders have identified drone fleet management, airspace management, universal traffic management, as well as logistics, and operational management as crucial factors that need to be considered for drones to be used to their maximum potential.
How management solutions can address current challenges in drone management
Without the right drone management and airspace management system in place, your drone fleet program launch may lack key efficiencies that will eat away at the benefits you may have forecasted.
Airspace visibility is crucial to ensure your drones have clear flight paths on their missions even in the face of external changes. Having a solution that accounts for changes in conditions and details is necessary in order to maintain operational efficiency and to keep your drones intact.
A universal traffic management solution should be able to detect and alert you to any local environment conditions, any obstacles that may suddenly appear, and changes in weather conditions like temperature, wind, and precipitation. Without the right visibility, you’re essentially flying blind.
Not being able to forecast maintenance requirements and overall drone performance can hinder a mission’s effectiveness and the longevity of your drone fleet. Having a platform that can not only predict when a drone will require a calibration adjustment or motor cleaning but also streamlines the process via measurable work orders centralizes the process, helping your team save time while increasing your drone’s longevity.
This can have significant long-term impacts on the effectiveness of your drone fleet, while minimizing any costs required in overall maintenance and drone device replacements.
Manual workflows can slow your team down as they try to obtain mission authorizations, certifications, and approvals, meet flight requirements, and ensure they’re adhering to any compliance or regulations. However, automated solutions can lessen the burden and automate many of the authorization requests, freeing up your team to handle more important and pressing tasks.
Leveraging key technologies for improving drone integration and performance
The use of AI has dramatically impacted how solutions handle drone management and airspace management. AI is, arguably, required, in order to handle and analyze the huge amounts of data that is constantly changing on a real-time basis. Otherwise, you may not be able to properly account for your airspace conditions or adapt your flight details in real-time. AI can give your team better information, faster, improving mission effectiveness.
New advances in blockchain technology and fostering the development of smart contracts can improve the certification and authorization process while helping drones meet flight requirements and specifications in certain airspaces. Blockchain technology can also be used to improve overall drone management, helping log flights and maintenance records in a more secure and accurate manner.
As organizations look to incorporate drones, they should take the time to ensure they have the right infrastructure and platforms to help support them.
To learn how SkyGrid’s AerialOS can help improve your airspace management, check out our overview page here.
All-in-one drone application, SkyGrid Flight Control, receives honors for flight technologies innovation for second consecutive year.
AUSTIN, Texas, April 22, 2022 – SkyGrid, a Boeing, SparkCognition company, received a 2022 Edison Award in the Aerospace and Robotics: Flight Technologies category for its SkyGrid Flight Control™ application – an end-to-end airspace management system built on AI and blockchain. This is the second year in a row SkyGrid’s solutions have been recognized on the Edison Awards list.
“As a two-time winner of the Edison Award, we are especially proud and grateful of Edison’s continued recognition of our technology,” said Amir Husain, Founder and CEO of SkyGrid. “At SkyGrid, we believe having an intelligent airspace management system is an essential component for unmanned aircraft in the global airspace. This award is a great milestone as we continue to innovate and scale the SkyGrid Flight Control application.”
SkyGrid Flight Control enables drone operators to explore airspace, and automate airspace authorization, mission planning, and flight execution in one unified solution. The application is available for free on the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad users across the world.
Out of 350 nominations this year, SkyGrid Flight Control was chosen as the 2022 Bronze Edison Award winner by a panel of judges comprised of more than 3,000 senior business executives, academics, and innovation professionals. The Edison Awards have recognized and honored some of the most innovative new products, services, and business leaders in the world since 1987.
“It’s amazing to see SkyGrid continuing Thomas Edison’s legacy of challenging conventional thinking and developing ‘game-changing’ new products and services,” said Frank Bonafilia, Edison Awards’ executive director.
SkyGrid, a Boeing, SparkCognition company, is powering the next generation of autonomous aviation. As the only airspace management system built on AI and blockchain technologies, SkyGrid solves the industry’s biggest challenges integrating unmanned aircraft into complex, rapidly changing airspace. SkyGrid’s intelligent system monitors, predicts, and adapts to changes in environment conditions, aircraft performance, and regulatory dynamics to safely enable a wide variety of commercial drone operations, from package deliveries to aerial taxis. SkyGrid is also an FAA-approved LAANC service supplier, providing flight authorizations to thousands of drone operators in the US.
About Edison Awards
Over the last 34 years, being recognized with an Edison Award has become one of the highest accolades a product can receive in the name of innovation success. The awards are named after Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), whose inventions, new product development methods, and innovative achievements changed the world. The Edison Awards are operated by Edison Universe, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission of recognizing, honoring, and fostering innovations and innovators, and are hosted in Fort Myers, Florida.
For Media Enquiries
Now in its 35th year, the Edison Awards, conducted by Edison Universe, celebrate excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design, and innovation. And we’re incredibly honored that SkyGrid was named a 2022 winner in the Aerospace and Robotics: Flight Technologies category for our SkyGrid Flight Control™ app. This is the second year in a row SkyGrid’s solutions have been recognized on the Edison Awards list.
With more than 350 nominations, the Edison Awards honor a select number of companies who, through their leadership and achievements, have distinguished themselves by making a significant and lasting contribution to the world of innovation, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here at SkyGrid.
Being recognized with an Edison Award two years in a row has been one of the highest recognitions we as a company can receive in the name of innovation and business. The awards are named after inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) and symbolize the persistence and excellence in innovation as personified by him. Winners represent “game-changing” products, services, excellence, and leadership in innovation around four criteria: Concept, Value, Delivery, and Impact.
The SkyGrid Flight Control application has been available on the iPad for a while now, but this year our team released the app on the iPhone and made it available to a global audience of drone operators. As the only solution built on AI and blockchain, SkyGrid Flight Control offers a smarter, more complete solution to automate every phase of flight.
Our app makes it easy for drone operators to explore the airspace, automate flights, and get real-time insights in one integrated solution, enabling safe, secure, and efficient operations. This powerful technology enables a more efficient approach to respond to natural disasters, transport medical supplies, surveil critical infrastructure, and much more.
Ultimately, SkyGrid Flight Control is a first step forward in our vision to become the world’s most trusted airspace management system that integrates all unmanned aircraft in our globally shared airspace.
I’m very proud of what our team has been able to accomplish. 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.
Interested in trying out this award-winning app? Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free today in the Apple App Store.
Navigating low-altitude airspace is complex. Drone operators need to monitor weather changes, avoid buildings and construction cranes, factor in risks on the ground and comply with shifting regulatory dynamics. That’s why we created your go-to airspace map for safe drone operations.
Our free, SkyGrid Flight Control app provides a robust map of airspace, weather, regulatory, and location data, such as airspace traffic, hyper-local weather, flight restrictions, population density, and more, which is critical to help drone operators minimize risks in the airspace and more intelligently manage unmanned flights. Did we mention it’s easy to use? All the airspace data provided in our app makes it easy for drone operators to execute safe and compliant missions.
Check out the quick overview from our team and read on for more details:
Airspace and Weather Intelligence
Our airspace intelligence includes advanced weather data, such as precipitation, temperature, wind direction and speed, cloud cover, visibility, and more.
The hyper-local weather data is updated every 60 seconds and detailed to the 500-meter radius. When you consider how quickly weather patterns can change, more detailed, real-time data becomes critical to minimize risks in the airspace, mainly because these factors can impact the flight path, battery life, and overall success of the mission. Additionally, our map layers have layer legends, enabling drone operators to quickly understand and translate the ground intelligence and regulations in the operators’ flight area before take-off to stay compliant.
As shown below, pilots can select a tile on our airspace map for an overview of the hyper-local weather details.
Location Insights and Ground Intelligence
Our location insights include roadway traffic, population density, local buildings, and obstacles.
The traffic layer displays traffic density on roadways to help drone operators avoid flying over potentially dangerous situations like congested areas that may pose a risk to vehicles and people on the ground. As you’d expect, the green roads represent light traffic whereas the red roads represent heavy traffic. Operators can use this tool to understand what time of the day has the least amount of traffic and schedule their missions accordingly. Additionally, the population density map layer helps visualize a heavily populated area when operating a drone.
Drone pilots can evaluate the airspace with a variety of map styles, such as satellite view or in 3D, making it easier to plan inspections and other object-centric flights. When reviewing their mission plan, a different point of view is also helpful for drone pilots to ensure there are no buildings or infrastructures too close to the flight path.
Regulatory Data and Advisories
Our regulatory data includes airspace classes and advisories from the FAA, such as National Security UAS Flight Restrictions. We also display the FAA’s UAS Facility Maps that show the pre-approved ceilings in controlled airspace where LAANC is available for auto-approval.
With LAANC operators can:
- Check local airspace and explore where it’s safe to fly.
- Request authorization from the FAA up to 30 days before taking flight.
- Access U.S. controlled airspace at or below 400 feet.
- View past, present and scheduled authorizations.
For example, the area in purple shows Class C airspace where auto-approval is available up to the pre-approved altitude displayed in the grid, and the area in green indicates Class D airspace.
For enterprises, SkyGrid also offers advanced data layers based on the unique needs of the mission. These data layers can include manned air traffic, foot traffic, radar-detected objects, and other data layers customized to the specific enterprise. To further simplify drone operations, enterprises can also leverage our AI technology to automatically plan, execute, and adapt flights as conditions change.