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27 January, 2021 - 20:30 By Tony Quested

Cambridge’s R4DAR Technologies helps clear flight path for air mobility

R4DAR Technologies, a Cambridge startup disrupting the autonomous landscape, has won a role in a £30 million UK programme designed to fast-track air mobility technology. 

It is participating in the government-supported Future of Flight iSHIMANO (Integrated System for High Integrity Monitoring of Advanced-Air-Mobility Network Operations) project. 

Overseen by Innovate UK, up to £30 million in funding has been made available to tech startups, academics and research organisations to accelerate the development of system of systems platforms that will enable national deployment of the technology, accelerating the commercialisation of advanced air mobility solutions.

R4DAR Technologies, together with a consortium consisting of aviation, technology, communications and data experts, will provide the next-generation navigational capability that will permit unmanned airborne vehicles to resiliently operate beyond visual line of sight in high risk very low-level flight environments. 

The location, tracking, and controlling unmanned aircraft in low level flying scenarios presents several challenges, particularly in busy urban environments where buildings, traffic, trees and urban clutter may impede satellite navigation or long-range Unmanned Traffic Management surveillance systems.  

There will also be a need for UAVs to continue to operate even in the most adverse of weather conditions such as fog, rain, snow or dust. 

R4DAR Technologies is exploiting its low cost, low maintenance beacon and radar technology to develop an autonomous solution that overcomes all these challenges so UAVs can be effectively and safely deployed in real world scenarios. 

Through a simple data exchange between an object/hazard and the radar, R4DAR’s unique capability is able to accurately communicate the location, identity, and status of other UAVs or critical flight infrastructure, safely operating in all weather and light conditions and independently of any preinstalled communications infrastructure. 

Clem Robertson, CEO at R4DAR Technologies, says: “Early unequivocal detection and identification of obstacles and hazards is the single biggest challenge for current and future intelligent transport systems. 

“Being able to immediately identify potential dangers in complex urban environments will be fundamental to ensuring safety in the autonomous world.

“Our low-cost and low maintenance technology has the capability of providing the necessary geospatial awareness to enable autonomous air mobility systems to navigate safely even in the most adverse environments.”

The unambiguous data captured as a result, will provide the unequivocal information needed for informed, real-time decision-making. Delivery drones, for example would be able to navigate their way through busy urban environments, without the need for human interaction. 

This unique technology has cross-market potential; for example, it could be mounted on road signs, be seamlessly integrated into smart motorway systems or used as wearable tech to improve the visibility of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

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