Friday, 05 July 2019 07:48

Vorpal, AT&T and Microsoft look at stopping drone air mishaps

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Vorpal, AT&T and Microsoft look at stopping drone air mishaps Courtesy AT&T

Drone detection and geolocation tracking solution provider Vorpal is collaborating with Microsoft and AT&T to try and develop a means of stopping air mishaps being caused by drones around areas where civilians are present.

A Microsoft blog post said the US Federal Aviation Administration expected the number of drones in the country's airspace to grow by a factor of three by 2023. In 2017, there was an average of 250 safety incidents per month.

Israel-based Vorpal's drone detection and tracking technology, known as VigilAir, uses distributed sensors to scan frequencies and identify drone transmissions. This means drones and their operators can be identified and tracked almost in real-time.

The AT&T Foundry is looking at bringing network edge capabilities into the network of its parent company, using intelligence edge technology, including Azure IoT and AI services and Azure Stack hybrid technology, from Microsoft.

The aim is to deploy these services closer to the edge of the network and use them to detect drone activity much sooner.

Vorpal's sensors have hardware to process the data coming from the location-tracking software but as the amount of data increases, so too does the demand for computing power.

The solution being contemplated is to reduce the demand for computing power from the sensors and transfer that task to the network.

"Vorpal deployed their VigilAir sensors over our LTE network across one square mile around our building. Through this near edge computing environment, we experienced a 40% to 50% network improvement over testing in the public cloud, with speed tests showing 24-40 milliseconds of latency," Ofer HaCohen, director of the AT&T Foundry in Israel, said.

"But our testing also showed low variance in latency, which is critical as it ensures Vorpal’s ability to provide a consistent quality of service."

Once 5G is available widely, the faster data transfer rate and lower latency will make the capabilities of near edge computing even better.

"This 5G and edge combo means Vorpal could deliver the near-real time situational awareness and tracking capabilities for thousands of drones, reduce the cost of multiple sensors and large-scale deployments, and unlock new solutions for commercial drone use," HaCohen said.

As iTWire has reported, there are other projects around the safe use of drones, with Israeli firm ParaZero having developed a real-time safety system known as SafeAir. The safety equipment is attached to the top of the drone and uses various parameters to judge what should be done while the drone is in flight, including bringing it safely to earth if needed.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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