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Referenced article published on on May 8, 2023 written by Jack Daleo. Link to original article:

DroneUp Introduces AI-based Air Traffic Control System

In a remarkable leap forward for the drone delivery industry, DroneUp, the company spearheading drone deliveries for retail giant Walmart, has joined forces with aviation safety firm Iris Automation. Their shared vision is to build a revolutionary air traffic control system for unmanned aircraft systems.

This groundbreaking partnership could propel Walmart and DroneUp’s service, currently one of the largest commercial drone delivery operations in the U.S, into a realm previously untapped: flights beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). Until now, this capability has been elusive, with DroneUp opting to fly drones only within visible distance of operators, restricting deliveries to a radius of 1.5 miles.

The collaboration with Iris Automation marks a significant shift in the company’s aspirations. DroneUp will deploy Iris’ innovative ground-based detect-and-alert system, Casia G, across a series of ‘nodes’, akin to cell towers, dispersed throughout its delivery areas. These nodes will relay vital airspace traffic data, enhancing BVLOS visibility.

Casia G harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and computer vision to detect approaching aircraft within a 360-degree field and up to 1.75 miles away. However, within a multi-node network like the one proposed by DroneUp, this range becomes virtually unlimited. This establishes a primitive but effective air traffic control system for drones, enhancing safety and providing operators with a comprehensive view of the airspace.

DroneUp’s expanded operation has the potential to revolutionize delivery services, particularly in more populated areas, and significantly increase their reach. Currently, the company and Walmart offer services from 36 store-based hubs across seven states, reaching roughly four million eligible customers. However, with BVLOS capabilities, this range, and consequently the network’s reach, could increase exponentially.

This advancement could transform more Walmart stores, especially those in dense urban areas, into drone delivery hubs. However, before these bold visions can be realized, DroneUp must demonstrate to the FAA that its novel airspace visibility system is reliable and effective. If successful, this partnership could set new records in the drone delivery sector, creating a future where our skies buzz with efficient, AI-controlled drone deliveries.