(22 Aug 2021) Honeywell is developing a new technology suite for light drones that allows them to fly three times longer and with less human intervention.
Compared with traditional drones using batteries and line-of-sight radio links, drones equipped with Honeywell’s Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) technologies can fly farther, carry more weight, avoid hazards up to three kilometers away and stream video of their progress anywhere in the world.
“These are technologies that businesses have been waiting for,” said Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager of Honeywell’s Unmanned Aerial Systems and Urban Air Mobility business unit. “They will help make drones profitable for a world of new applications.”
Potential applications for Honeywell’s BVLOS technology include last-mile package delivery, military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, pipeline and power line inspection, search and rescue, and first responder solutions.
The BVLOS suite comprises:
– Honeywell’s 600-watt and 1200-watt hydrogen fuel cells;
– Honeywell’s RDR-84K multipurpose radar;
– Honeywell’s inertial measurement units (IMUs); and
– Honeywell’s UAV Satcom.
Honeywell’s RDR-84K is a phased-array radar that steers beams electronically, meaning it has no moving parts and requires minimal maintenance. It also requires no heavy cooling systems. In addition to avoiding other aircraft, the radar can detect obstacles, map terrain and identify landing zones. It can act as a radar altimeter and provide mapping for alternate navigation if GPS guidance fails.
The BVLOS suite will allow drone designers to combine data in clever new ways to save weight and power. Its radar computes an avoidance path using built-in circuitry, rather than requiring a separate processor, while the satellite uplink can be used to download real-time weather and traffic reports from other drones.
“These innovations give drone builders and operators a whole new range of options,” said Sapan Shah, product manager for Honeywell’s Unmanned Aerial Systems and Urban Air Mobility business unit. “More time in the air, more awareness of surroundings and traffic, better connectivity: These are the building blocks of safe, profitable drone operations of all kinds, and that’s what we’re delivering.”
Honeywell’s UAV Satcom and IMUs are available now, with some IMU models priced from $1,800. The RDR-84K and fuel cells are in late-stage development, and prototype fuel cells are available for purchase and evaluation.