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Geopolitics & 3-D Negotiations
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Nikos Chatzis

“…Applied Aeronautics announces its latest Albatross UAV aircraft fully integrating Iris Automation’s advanced detect and avoid Casia solution for BVLOS flights. The Albatross UAV starts at US$7,000, and the forthcoming BVLOS model will remain consistent with Applied Aeronautics commitment to marrying a robust feature set with affordable pricing.

Its high efficiency design delivers long distance endurance of up to four hours, and critical capabilities for BVLOS including specialized communications, modular – application specific – payloads, and now the Casia onboard detect-and-avoid system. Flying drones beyond line of sight has been estimated to save between 28% and 55% of the cost to fly similar missions by helicopter, according to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

Applied Aeronautics will manufacture the Albatross BVLOS at its new composites facility in Austin, Texas, bringing advanced-manufacturing jobs to the region. The facility is being built out to support a surge in demand from the global commercial and military sectors for affordable, long-endurance, BVLOS solutions.

Iris Automation’s Casia, also produced in the US, allows uncrewed aircraft to see and react to the aviation environment around it, providing situational awareness for remote pilots and enhancing air safety. Casia detects other aircraft using computer-vision algorithms to classify them, makes intelligent decisions about the threat they may pose to the drone and then triggers an alert to execute maneuvers to safely avoid collisions.

The two companies have previously partnered on several successful BVLOS projects, including the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program, and commercial inspection operations in Canada. Casia-equipped Albatross aircraft are also supporting long range missions in Latin America.