Compact Radar System Promises to Let Small Drones Cut the Leash
The many use cases for drones are now clear. They can help tend crops more efficiently, find people lost in the wilderness, and even carry packages. How drones can be widely used for such things safely is much less certain.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says it won’t allow small drones to go beyond their pilot’s line of sight until technology is developed that allows the small fliers to detect and avoid other aircraft. That restriction would ground ideas like Amazon and Google’s plans for package delivery and make many others less lucrative.
A gadget the size of a paperback novel unveiled Monday by Seattle-area startup Echodyne might help pacify the FAA. The company has developed technology that simplifies and shrinks the complex antenna array needed to make a scanning radar system that operates like those of military and commercial aircraft.