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GCN : October and November 2016
34 GCN OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016 • GCN.COM equipped with an optical camera that provides imagery for detection and tracking, and it has passive ranging features that assess the flight paths of incoming aircraft. In the future, researchers antici- pate that ALIAS will evolve into a smaller, customized, removable kit, which could allow for greater automa- tion and fewer onboard crew members. “What pilot wouldn’t want to set a box on their dash- board that would provide an additional pair of eyes to alert of potential collisions?” asked Daniel Patt, a program manag- er in DARPA’s Tactical Technol- ogy Office. “This [sense-and- avoid] system has the potential to enable a wide range of manned and unmanned systems to safely integrate into an increasingly populated and complex airspace.” — Karen Epper Hoffman Drone registration system is flying high The FAA’s cloud-based, API-driven website was delivered in two months and has processed nearly half a million registrations Drones have captured public attention this year — from unmanned aerial systems that drop deliveries for Amazon to small drones that endanger other aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administra- tion’s registration system, however, aims to ensure that small drones will be regis- tered and trackable to head off potential mishaps and limit controversies. The FAA contracted with CSRA to develop and launch a cloud-based, platform- agnostic website to register and monitor drones that weigh 0.55 to 55 pounds. The agency and CSRA set an aggressive plan to develop and deploy the registra- tion website within two months. “Our team had only six weeks to validate requirements,” said Peter O’Donoghue, CSRA’s vice president for solutions and alliances. And then things got com- plicated. Midway through the process, the FAA’s small-UAS task force published recom- mendations that required sig- nificant changes in the scope and requirements of the website, O’Donoghue said. “Our team in close col- laboration with our customer accommodated these changes and still was able to meet our deployment date,” he added. Constructing a custom site with software-as-a-service integration helped speed the plan along and will allow the architecture to better accommodate changes, such The Federal Aviation Administration’s test of the SkyTracker drone-detection system shows what’s possible in securing an increasingly crowded airspace An unauthorized unmanned aerial system can wreak havoc near an airport. And although the Federal Aviation Administration is working hard to educate and regulate private UAS operations, it’s clear that additional defenses are needed. SkyTracker, a system developed by CACI, could be part of that solution. Early in 2016, the FAA tested SkyTracker as part of its Pathfinder Program, which is evaluating technologies that can detect and identify drones flying too close to airports. In 141 operations over five days at the Atlantic City, N.J., airport, SkyTracker detected, identified and tracked drones in flight, located operators on the ground and avoided any interference with airport ground operations. The system is composed of strategically located radio frequency sensors that detect common UAS frequencies and triangulate the location of both the device and the operator. Because the system passively tracks drones via their RF signatures, there are no false positives from birds, and drones can be linked to their operators. The reliance on RF technology also means drones of any size can be tracked in all weather, day or night. The FAA’s Pathfinder Program is still in the testing and evaluation phase, but it’s clear that solutions like SkyTracker will be needed — not only at airports, but for critical infrastructure, large-scale public events and elsewhere. “The explosive growth of the unmanned aircraft industry makes evaluating detection technologies an urgent priority,” said Marke Gibson, the FAA’s senior adviser on UAS integration, at the time of the SkyTracker tests. “ This research is totally aimed at keeping our skies safe, which is our No. 1 mission.” — Troy K. Schneider PROTECTING THE PERIMETER AS DRONES PROLIFERATE 1116gcn_032-055.indd 34 10/6/16 10:24 AM
August and September 2016
January and February 2017