New drone has built-in ADS-B

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Drone manufacturer DJI has announced its latest model will have a built-in automatic dependant surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) receiver.

Due to be released over the coming months, the Matrice 200 (M200) series is marketed on adaptability and durability, aimed towards commercial operators carrying out aerial inspections, precision agriculture, firefighting and search-and-rescue.

But it’s the inclusion of an ADS-B receiver that has captured the attention of many in aviation safety circles.

‘The M200 series features a built-in ADS-B receiver,’ says DJI, ‘…enhancing airspace safety by automatically providing the operator with real-time information about the position, altitude and velocity of nearby manned aircraft equipped with ADS-B transmitters.’

The technology, dubbed ‘AirSense’ by DJI, enables advisory traffic information from nearby manned aircraft, creating ‘safer and more efficient use of airspace’.

DJI’s Matrice 200 in flight. Image: ©DJI

Maintaining separation between manned and unmanned aircraft is perhaps the greatest safety concern facing the rapidly growing drone industry, with many putting forward ADS-B as a possible solution.

ADS-B is a system in which electronic equipment onboard an aircraft automatically broadcasts the precise location of the aircraft via a digital data link. The data allows other nearby aircraft and air traffic control to see what a broadcasting aircraft is doing, transmitting identity, altitude, velocity and other relevant data without the need for radar. The M200 does not broadcast its position, however.

ADS-B equipment mandates for manned aircraft have been progressively implemented in Australia since 2007, with the final mandate, requiring all aircraft operating under instrument flight rules (IFR) to be equipped, taking effect at the start of February 2017.

Other safety features on the Matrice include seven forward-facing sensors capable of detecting obstacles up to 30 metres ahead; while the upward-facing infrared sensors can sense obstacles within a 5-metre range. A downward-facing vision positioning system enables precision hovering and landing.

Other notable specifications include a 3.8 kg take-off weight, 38-minute flight time and a seven-kilometre operating range.

You can find more information via DJI’s website.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Adding ADS-B to the M200 really is a game changer. Now the legitimately asked question becomes (1) If not equipped with ‘OUT’ why not? And (2) “if the DJI M200 is equipped with OUT.. why are other UAS aircraft not similarly equipped, and thereforepermitted to remain invisible and potentially unaccountable for invractions?”

    • I suppose the simple answer is “because that is what is required by law”. A corollary is that it is cheaper to put in an ADS-B receiver that just meets the law than it is to put in a receiver and a transmitter that makes operation safer. A philosophical answer (not necessarily valid) is that drones equipped with ADS-B IN and flown by completely reliable computers can always evade manned aircraft equipped with ADS-B OUT and flown by fallible human pilots.

      • Having OUT could impact battery life (reason not to have OUT).
        Not having OUT means that, regardless if human or computer operated, there is no protection against two drones hitting each other and hurting those that may be down below as they fall from the sky (reason to have OUT)

  2. For all the safety features and redundancy it has why not make it a hex so it can still fly with one less motor?

    • Motor and esc failure are rarely the cause of unscheduled landings, and in my experience even octo’s suffering catastrophic esc failure still crash, as with prop failures causing mems outage, better to carry less weight with four motors and thereby operating with much less stress. Lugging around partialy redundant exra arms, esc’s, battery capacity and associated wiring for negligible gain in redundency is counter to evolution of reliable hardware.. everything suffers, batteries need to be disproportionately bigger for same flight time, airframe is bigger, cost is higher for extra parts needed, it’s more difficult to orientate los, bigger footprint makes transport and ground handling more difficult, hex and octo’s are just more links in the chain and in the dynamic of current tehnology they are really dinosaurs from a bygone era and I for one will never go back.

  3. ATC will not know it’s position. It will be in drones (meant for commercial use) so that the drone operator can avoid manned aircraft. Mandated by FAA, all manned aircraft must have ADS-B out installed by 2020. The manned A/C will not be able to detect the drone however, if the manned A/C is only equipt with out.

  4. I find it interesting that ADS-B is only mandatory on IFR craft. In my experience it’s the VFR machines that generally fly lower that would be at most risk.

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