Securing drones beyond the visual line of sight must be a priority

March 12, 2021

Last summer, a drone being used for demonstration flights entered Gatwick Airport’s airspace, lost control and subsequently crashed. Especially following the drone incidents that effectively shut down Gatwick’s operations for several days in December 2018, concerns have been raised to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Luckily, in both instances, nobody was harmed. However, it is clear that the potential for damage and danger is rising as drone usage becomes more common.

Drones may seem like a futuristic dream that only The Jetsons could fully implement, but, in reality, the technology is already here. Drones are beginning to be used to quickly transfer medical necessities between hospitals. Some cities are even piloting drone deliveries of groceries and packages.

Key to the success of drones, therefore, is trust in the technology that underpins them. It’s all well and good to be able to send an unmanned vehicle into the air. However, if the operator loses control or contact with the drone, the repercussions could be severe. The accurate and timely communication between the drone and the infrastructure, as well as any communications between the drone and other vehicles, must be ensured.

That’s why ANGOKA is working on Project Xcelerate, in conjunction with BT and several other partners, to secure drones beyond the visual line of sight. By ensuring drones cannot be hijacked and that the communication channel they depend on is protected, we are taking a step into the future of flight. Without these security provisions, drone usage will remain inherently untrustworthy and potentially inoperable.

Really, drones are only the beginning of a larger shift in how we think about mobility. Earlier this year, the government announced the UK’s first air hub for autonomous drones and air taxis. Of course, it may be a few years before we see air taxis. But when we do, they will have cybersecurity and safety provisions developed from our work with drones today.

No need to look back at The Jetsons for a glimpse into the future – the technology is here now. It’s up to us now to make that future a reality.

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