Enforcing Drone Regulations

Drone technology has made huge advancements and had major success in recent years. With this success comes an increased focus on the security and safety of drones, drone users and those living in areas with drone activity.

Reflecting this, Governments around the world are currently developing and putting into place regulations to improve the safety of drones.

In the UK the “Drone Code” (http://www.caa.co.uk/drones/ ) has 3 key points:

  • Keep the drone within site at all times and don’t fly higher than 400 feet
  • Keep your drone away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields
  • Use your common sense and fly safely.

The onus of adhering to the Drone Code and any other regulations lies with the drone operator.

Technologies such as GPS Geo-fencing have been put forward as solutions to ensuring drones are prevented from flying over restricted areas.

But how do you ensure a drone remains within line of sight and within a limited range and what happens when it does go out of line of sight or exceeds the allowed range?

Advancements in Radio Frequency Technology has allowed for greater Ranging accuracy, which is the measurement of the distance between two or more Radio Frequency Tags (RF tag). PACTEC have incorporated this technology into their product family.

The first product that utilises this is HAZALERT. This product is designed for the Construction Industry and allows a Site Manager to identify hazardous areas within the site via the placement of Tags. These Tags then allow Construction vehicles fitted with the HAZALERT product to alert the driver/operator to their proximity to these high risk locations. These locations would include overhead powerlines, underground cables, fuel storage, open excavations etc. HAZALERT also incorporates Location Awareness via RF Ranging allowing HazAlert to know its position in its current environment giving the Site Manager the ability to map the construction site to identify hazards.

In addition to HAZALERT, PACTEC have also incorporated this technology into their LOCALERT product that provides Location Awareness in GPS denied environments for use by both military and emergency response personnel.

PACTEC are also incorporating this technology into their UAVALERT product that will allow drone regulations to be enforced.

 

PACTEC’s UAVALERT uses Radio Frequency Ranging technology to ensure that a drone remains within a specified range of the operator and more importantly stays within line of sight of the operator.

UAVALERT operates on a Line of Sight basis. Where a drone and its associated remote control are equipped with UAVALERT modules the drone can be notified when it is no longer in sight of the operator.

The UAVALERT module will notify the main control unit of the drone when it detects that it is out of sight the operator.

The drone can then be programmed by the manufacturer to respond to this notification by either hovering in its current position, return to ground level or potentially returning to its point of origin.

The Ranging feature of RF Technology allows the drone to calculate how far it is from the operator.

The RF module is pre-programmed with a limit that it must remain within from the associated remote control. This limit cannot be altered by the user and is set by the manufacturer.

When the RF Module detects that is out of range it notifies the drone’s main control unit. The main control unit can then react to this notification by hovering, landing or returning to its point of origin.

In both cases the power consumption can be kept to a minimum by having a multi-second interval between communications.

 

 

 

 

Can the Construction Industry do without Location Awareness?

All construction site machinery have the potential to cause serious accidents. An excavator coming in contact with overhead powerlines is the most obvious hazard. Excavating in to underground cables, site collisions between machines and people, unsafe areas are all potential hazards. Current construction safety regulations do help prevent such accidents but do they go far enough?

 
Location awareness on a construction site where each site worker and machine knows the location of each other and any site hazards will reduce the number of accidents significantly.

 
Consider a system that allows a site engineer to map out the construction site and identify potential hazards. All machinery on the construction site have access to this map and using location awareness know where exactly they are on this map. The machine then alerts the driver when the machine is in proximity of a hazard.

 
Each machine knows its location but also knows the location of other machines. Again, the machine can warn the driver that other machines are in close proximity.

 
Take this a step further and bring site workers into the equation. Each machine is now aware of any site workers in its proximity and can alert the driver accordingly.

 
A location awareness system can also dictate which parts of a construction site a machine can operate. The site engineer can use the map to identify green zones that a machine is allowed to operate and more importantly identify red zones where the machine isn’t allowed to operate. With an accurate location awareness system the site engineer can go as far as identifying the actual areas that need to be excavated.

 
A fully integrated location awareness system can control the machine’s operation and remove the potential for driver error e.g. an excavator can travel through a red zone but cannot perform any excavation in that area.
Integrating location awareness technology into the construction industry not only improves safety but can also reduce cost.

Google Maps Accuracy for Land Surveyance

Recently we did some development work with a team of engineers on digital land surveyance.  Using an algorithm owned by Google maps to pinpoint our physical measurements. We found that there was on occasion a fifteen metre skew to some points while lesser for others. There will be factors to take into consideration, atmosphere, satellite positioning, curvature of the earth, image-stitching software, priority of ground being imaged.  Not an accurate picture of the terrain from a virtual point of view.  A view that seems to be more accurate in a RFID Domain.

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