Seraphim Space portfolio company Altitude Angel is in the news through the announcement of their "sky corridor" that enables drones to fly in a controlled corridor to deliver small parcels and transport medical supplies.
This will be the worlds first large-scale trial of its kind. Masts installed within the corridor will use radar and multiple tracking sensors to create the air traffic control system.
Drones will be registered with Altitude Angel, allowing them to be tracked and monitored. Drones will use the zone simultaneously travelling in either direction on a linear “motorway”. The platform will automatically keep drones apart and detect those at risk of a collision. Instructions such as “change flight path, hold, return or land” will be sent via the drone operator. Importantly the Altitude Angel system will intervene if the requests are not followed.
The importance of this real-world trial cannot be underestimated. Beyond visual line of sight automated flight in unrestricted airspace is a very significant barrier to overcome in order to realise the vision of mass-commercial drone usage.
Over time a network of sky corridors could be developed to provide national networks of virtual motorways.
The world’s first commercial “flight corridor” for drones will be established by the end of the year, paving the way for airborne parcel delivery services. The Times has learnt that a five-mile long aerial highway will be created south of Reading, Berkshire, that will allow drones to be operated beyond a pilot’s line of sight, a manoeuvre usually banned under existing regulations. The corridor, a third of a mile wide, will be monitored by a new air traffic control system for small unmanned devices. The system will feed automated instructions to drones to ensure they maintain a safe distance from others in the area or change their flight path to avoid a collision. It will operate in normal airspace shared with conventional aircraft including helicopters, light aircraft and commercial jets.