FAA Gives Approval to American Robotics to Operate Automated Drones Without Onsite Human Operators
January 15, 2021
American Robotics, which develops fully automated commercial drone systems, announced it was the first company approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate automated drones without human operators on site. The company’s Scout System includes advanced acoustic detect-and-avoid technology that keeps its drones a safe distance from other aircraft at all times.
The company said that by developing a layered, redundant system of safety that includes technical and operational risk mitigations, it has proven that the drone-based aerial intelligence platform can operate safely in the National Airspace System, even when it conducts flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the operator.
The company said prior waivers and certifications required visual observers stationed along the flight path or required other restrictions such as infrastructure masking. “As a result, the value and scalability of commercial drone use in the U.S. have been, until now, been drastically inhibited or in many cases eliminated.”
The company’s Scout drone lives within a weatherproof base station, which enables autonomous charging, data processing and analysis at the edge, and data transmission. Once installed in the field, all facets of Scout’s operation are automated, allowing the technology to gather and analyze ultra-high-resolution data multiple times per day for many years without expensive human labor, American Robotics said.
“With these approvals, American Robotics is ushering in a new era of widespread automated drone operations,” said Reese Mozer, CEO and co-founder of American Robotics. “Decades worth of promise and projection are finally coming to fruition. We are proud to be the first company to meet the FAA’s comprehensive safety requirements, which had previously restricted the viability of drone use in the commercial sector. We are very grateful for the FAA’s willingness to work closely with American Robotics over the past four years on this precedent-setting authorization. With this set of approvals, American Robotics can begin safely operating our automated Scout platform for the benefit of the energy, infrastructure, agriculture, and security market verticals, helping unlock the projected $100 billion commercial drone market.”
During the past four years, the company said it engaged with multiple organizations across eight states in the U.S. During 2020, the Scout Systems flew as many as 10 automated missions per day. The data the drone collects can benefit farmers, agronomists, industrial operators, security personnel, and maintenance crews, the company said.
“Our interest in American Robotics’ technology started with the desire to have a drone imagery solution that was reliable, scalable, and executed with minimal human resources,” said Lance Ruppert, director of agronomy marketing and technology at Growmark, a U.S. grower cooperative. “This technology, along with the FAA approvals to operate it without humans on the ground, is key to making drones a widespread reality in our industry. This is a game changer.”
“Automated BVLOS operations are particularly important to opening the commercial sectors to the drone economy, including the agriculture and industrial verticals,” said Lisa Ellman, partner and chair of the global UAS practice at Hogan Lovells, and executive director of the Commercial Drone Alliance. “Key to these operations is the use and FAA acceptance of new and innovative safety technologies, such as detect and avoid sensors and software-enabled automation. American Robotics’ groundbreaking and exciting FAA approval is an important and significant step forward for the commercial drone community as a whole.”
More details on American Robotics and its offerings are available on its website.