Radar System Could Help Make Delivery Drones a Reality

Echodyne, a Bellevue, WA-based startup, has completed the first successful test of its airborne Detect and Avoid (DAA) radar on a small unmanned aerial vehicle (sUAV). The radar system was mounted on a small commercial drone that flew multiple missions below 400 feet, over a period of several days. The drone was of a size, payload, and range well-suited for package delivery, infrastructure inspection, and agricultural monitoring. The company says that the device is capable of detecting even small aircraft at a distance 1.8 miles in varying weather conditions. This breakthrough is driven by the use of metamaterials, which allow the radar to eliminate moving parts, making the hardware smaller and more battery efficient without sacrificing range. Echodyne's detect and avoid technology enables a drone to 'see' moving and stationary obstacles using 'radar vision' as the drone flies through the airspace beyond line of sight of its operator.