Echodyne’s pocket-sized radar may be the next must-have tech for drones (and drone hunters)

Just because we live in an age of many sensors doesn’t mean we always have the right one for the job. One in particular we’ve been lacking is a radar system that can detect obstacles and aircraft hundreds of meters out, yet fit comfortably on a small drone. The laws of physics, it seemed, prevented it — but Echodyne made it work anyway. And it’s ready to put out its first product.

The problem isn’t that the drone in your back yard doesn’t know where a tree is (it does) or that cars can’t tell how far they are from one another (they can). It’s that if you want to fly a few hundred feet up, you start having to worry about helicopters, small planes, and if you get high enough, commercial jets. You need to see hundreds or thousands of feet out to effectively accommodate them (it’s called “detect and avoid”), and at that range no optical, lidar or ultrasonic sensor in the world is reliably effective.

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