The drone industry knows that a functioning UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) system is required to integrate drones into the airspace. Beyond UTM, however, there is considerable potential for supplementary services that emerge from a UTM framework. These services offer benefits to a variety of sectors in the drone industry and beyond: such as weather or environmental data, or products that have yet to be developed.
DRONELIFE is honored to receive this contribution from Dr. Ajay Mocha of ANRA Technologies, a leading participant and thought leader in the global UTM community.
Guest contribution by Dr. Ajay Modha, Head of Business Unit at ANRA Technologies UK Limited. DRONELIFE does not accept or make payments for guest posts.
What happens next with a Supplemental Data Service Provider?
There is industry-wide consensus that unmanned traffic management (UTM) will accelerate the growth of drone use so that the sector can expand its commercial services and create a generation change in aviation. However, a working UTM does not mean that companies are attracted to or willing to accept or pay for the services. In order to realize the full potential of UTM, the industry needs to resolve a number of issues, from operational security to considering the needs of end users to commercial adoption of the technology.
UTM provides a means of overcoming the technical problem of operating drones out of line of sight (BVLOS) through a core of basic services that support the key requirements related to communication / navigation / surveillance (CNS), separation and collision avoidance. A legal framework defines minimum or basic services that should be sufficient for BVLOS operation. However, for routine, sustainable operations, ie “business as usual”, end-users and operators need individual or tailor-made services that are tailored to the environment, sector or geography for drone operation.
What are additional services in UTM?
Additional services in UTM can be viewed as enhancements to core services or regulated services to enable improvements in service levels for UAS operations by providing additional information services to assist a UTM actor in planning, validating, and reviewing information or during support the information of a decision-making process. Such support services will play an important role as they create new business opportunities, attract new and skilled employees, and support end-users who participate in the ecosystem but may not have in-depth expertise. The UTM ecosystem will encourage existing and new aviation and non-aviation companies to develop new solutions or develop data solutions for the benefit of a number of industries that use drones. These services are expected to be easily accessible to UTM service providers, but they can also be accessible to UAS operators, Flight Information Management System (FIMS), or Common Information Service (CIS) providers. Examples of SDSP (Supplemental Data Service Providers) are:
- Weather services
- Insurance services
- Geographic information services (terrain and obstacle data)
- Monitoring data
- Aviation information
How high is the market demand for complementary services? Who is the end user?
SDSPs will play an important role in creating additional services by responding to market demand. This begs the question of what is the market demand and who the end user is. There are several points of interaction in the UTM architecture, each of which can support several services.
- USS Operators: The USS and the drone operator interact digitally throughout the life cycle of a flight. This market element of UTM services must meet the needs of the customers, including the provision of additional services to support the needs of the operators.
- USS – FIMS / CIS: The USS works with the FIMS / CIS to access a range of information to aid drone operations, including how to facilitate contact with other USS or air navigation service providers.
- USS – SDSPs: USSss are expected to work with SDSPs to improve their service offering. This is expected to be done on an open market basis, with the USS free to work with relevant data and service providers to better serve their customers.
- USS – USS: These interactions are expected to make up most of the data exchange required to complete a range of tasks related to drone operations. USS-USS engagements are expected to be done through a discovery service to discover USS contact information. Discovery services can be performed by SDSPs.
- USS – ATM: The USS shares operating data directly with ATM / airports via the Discovery Service. USS can work with airports to provide specific services to airport customers and repeat customers.
- USS – Public Authorities: Local authorities and emergency services can work with USS to establish restricted areas or higher priority drone operations.
When UTM companies define and develop their business strategies based on their views on profitability and competitiveness, their service strategies depend on the target markets, the level of maturity of the infrastructure and, above all, on customer needs. The last one is the most annoying of them all, which emerges from the service perspectives in the table below. The industry has evidence of early adopters of UTM technologies such as: B. of users of the FAA LAANC systems, electronic identification in Europe, including the role of Network Remote ID in Switzerland.
Potential benefits for drone companies
- Efficient operation
- Greater capacity
- Access to the airspace
- Access to airports
- Increased security
- Currency and maintenance
- Registration dates
Advantages for drone business customers
- Integrated operation
- Data & services
- Lower operating costs
- Simplified workflows
SDSP for stakeholders
- Public authorities
- Drone business
SDSP solutions by class
- Airspace management
- Fleet operation
- Operational centers
- On board the drone
Examples of supplementary data
- Aviation information
- Directory services
- Charging infrastructure
- Automated risk assessments
- Geospatial data mapping
- Network coverage
- Electromagnetic interference
- Population density
- Location based services
- GPS / non-GPS location
- Monitoring data
- Health & Use, Device Failures
- Electronic logbooks
- Data analysis
- …..much more
We know that end users in this emerging industry will demand to develop UTM into an engaging set of services that will satisfy likely users. This can be a challenge in aviation, where infrastructure developments are driven by safety culture – after all, this has made aviation one of the safest industries in the world. However, if the industry is to continue investing in UTM, developers, businesses and users must have a say in creating it, especially in shaping the regulated aspects to ensure that the unregulated and commercial services can add value.
Dr. Ajay Modha is the Head of Business at ANRA Technologies UK Limited, where he drives strategic market entry, growth and expansion plans for the UK and European markets. Dr. Modha has a deep background in the aviation industry. Modha was the airframe manager for the high-altitude aircraft program Aquila, which aimed to provide a stratospheric platform capable of providing connectivity in regions without fiber infrastructure from 2014 to 2018. In 2018 he joined Transport Systems Catapult (now the Connected Places Catapult – CPC) to lead their R&D and industry activities for unmanned aviation. Dr. Modha holds a PhD in Helicopter Design from the University of Southampton.
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has authored over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing in the drone industry, email Miriam.
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