Two weeks after the release of the surveillance API to provide “truly comprehensive real-time picture of the airspace”, Altitude Angel releases Scout, an open-source hardware & software platform for Remote ID and UTM connectivity.

Released earlier this month, Altitude Angel’s surveillance API allows commercial drone manufacturers, flight app developers, and drone fleet operators to both share and receive flight data from a variety of sensors and devices in near real-time. The idea is to make it easier for companies using the data to obtain “a richer moving picture of the sky”, helping to enhance overall safety. This information is also used with the company’s other services such as Airspace Alerts and Tactical Conflict Resolution Service (CRS).

“By offering our surveillance API to developers and manufacturers, we’re taking another significant step towards providing a single-point-source-of-truth, which is needed to realize routine, automated drone flights,” Richard Parker, Altitude Angel CEO and founder, said.

To further expand on the notion of routine automated commercial and industrial drone flights, Altitude Angel developed Scout.

Intended for use in commercial and industrial drone applications, Scout can securely obtain and broadcast a form of network remote ID to enable drone manufacturers, software developers, and commercial drone pilots to quickly connect to its global UTM - a vital step for BVLOS flights. The system is fully open-sourced and offers two-way communication, meaning the Altitude Angel UTM service can talk back to the drone’s onboard systems. This allows the drone to respond directly to information received from the UTM, which can, for example, help to avoid collisions with other aerial vehicles, or restricted airspace.

Scout uses identifiers obtained freely from Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM platform and will work in combination with a pre-flight (flight plan sharing) service and is supported through integration with Altitude Angel’s Tactical CRS service. To track the drone in real-time, Scout uses GPS-type sensors and relays this data via a secure, encrypted mobile communications link across 3G, 4G, and 5G networks to Altitude Angel.

“We believe Scout is unique because its open-source architecture can be incorporated into other solutions and its firmware can be customized to suit any particular task and connect to virtually any system,” Parker added. “By making Scout freely available our hope is to accelerate the take-up and use of UTM-connected drones. When this is achieved, we will not only be keeping our skies safe, but we will open them to scalable, automated flight.”

Right now, early adopters can begin to integrate with Altitude Angel’s UTM services and test the hardware and communication. In June 2020, Altitude Angel will release a two-wire I2C upgrade to the circuit schematics, and version 2 of the firmware which enables the full two-way communication. While the company does not yet have plans to manufacture the device, it released a guide with the hardware plans and schematics for the device.