Potential uses for drones have been adding up much faster than legalized uses. Flying drones at night, above people or beyond visual line of sight without special permits, has been prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration. However, remote identification and by extension unmanned traffic management is possible via the InterUSS Platform Open Source Project, hosted by the nonprofit organization Linux Foundation. This Open Source Platform could prove to be a breakthrough in remote drone identification and safety.
The InterUSS Platform was co-developed by AirMap, Uber, Wing and the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) of Switzerland, as described in the news release. This was done in consultation with regulators and standards bodies around the world. The platform enables an Unmanned Aircraft System Service Supplier, or USS, to communicate with others. Thus, it means interoperability between drone software. It allows drone pilots to exchange information about flights and constraints in the airspace. Moreover, they can find and identify each other’s drones and share where they’re going, without transgressing privacy boundaries by requiring personally identifiable information about the pilots.
A spokesperson, Robert van Gool, described Liberty Comms as a downloadable app for giving and receiving telemetry and registry information. It provided details like what the drone is doing, who it belongs to, what the license number is and whether it has the authorization to fly in that area. More detailed information can be used by verified users in law enforcement.
Benefits of the Open Source Platform
According to van Gool, the immediate benefit of the Open Source Platform to the industry is that companies developing apps for drones will now be able to incorporate remote identification. Formerly, it has been a logistical and safety hurdle for unmanned air vehicles. Furthermore, drone app developers who have incorporated the InterUSS Platform will have tools ready to go if legislation changes FAA regulations to make more types of drone flights legal without waivers. Hence, the market for them will grow.
In early 2019, the platform’s first test involved a small handful of developers. Whereas, its second test in September recruited a larger list of participants: AirMap, AiRXOS (part of GE Aviation), ANRA Technologies, CNN, Flite Test, Kittyhawk.io, Uber, UASidekick, Wing and Skyward.
“InterUSS is really an outgrowth of those UTM research initiatives, so this has really been a work in progress for almost five years. The InterUSS Platform and recent remote identification demonstrations that we’ve done have been the result of organizing this work into an open-source project that now is managed by the Linux Foundation, and that initiative is about a year old,” AirMap co-founder Benjamin Marcus said.
“The standard is important not only to Wing but to all industry participants because we now have a consensus framework for exchanging data. (The ASTM committee that developed the standard included approximately 35 industry and regulator participants),” the email said. “This standard provides the foundation for progressing toward standards-based UTM services that enable safe coexistence of operations supported by diverse USSs as well Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and Ops Over People (OOP).”