Radar enables heavy lifting drones to navigate in complex environments

December 18, 2019 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Radar helps Griff haevy lifting drones navigate complex environments
Plextek is partnering with Griff Aviation to put its electronic-scanning (e-scan) micro radar and sensors on heavy lifting drones developed by Griff.

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) designed to carry payloads up to 250kg are being developed by Griff for a wide range of applications including moving building equipment and materials across harsh terrains including mountainous and forested landscapes.

The Plextek electronic-scanning (e-scan) micro radar and advanced software have been optimised for use on drones and other UAVs. Operating in the 60 GHz mm-waveband, the e-scan radar is capable of detecting hazards such as power lines from up to 60 metres as well as buildings, bridges, vegetation and other objects both in front of and beneath the drone, with good range out to 300m and angular resolution. It also provides day and night, all-weather sensing. And because the 60 GHz band is licence exempt in most territories, the micro radar can be freely used and is unlikely to cause interference with other equipment on board the UAV or in close proximity.

The Plextek micro radar will enable the drones to fly at a pre-defined height when integrated with the Micro Pilot flight controller. A software shim layer converts the distance and azimuth information into MAVLINK commands used by the flight controller to navigate with speed and safety.

Plextek is currently working with Griff Aviation with on-site trials in Norway ahead of putting the drones through their paces with a leading energy provider in Japan and a power line company in Australia.

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