Unifly and HERE Technologies partner to enable airspace maps for UAS

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Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) software provider Unifly and digital mapping and location services provider HERE Technologies have announced that they will work together to “jointly enable airspace maps for drones.”

The collaboration between the two companies will consist of two phases.

During the first phase of their collaboration, Unifly and HERE plan to enable an airspace map for UAS that covers both rural and urban areas, and marks out no-fly zones such as airports, residential areas and sensitive government installations.

During the second phase of the collaboration, the companies will look to continue the development of the system so that it can support the management of UAS traffic flow, and even collision avoidance, in a similar fashion to what air traffic controllers do for today’s airline industry.

A long-term goal of the companies is to explore how UAS transportation and logistics can be seamlessly integrated into the larger transportation system.

“New mapping technologies will make it easier to tell a drone and its operator where they can viably, safely and legally fly. This is needed if, one day, drones are to be flown remotely out of the view of their operators,” says Marc Kegelaers, Chief Executive Officer of Unifly.

“And it will be even more essential as autonomously-flying drones become more prevalent. By greatly boosting the situational awareness of drone traffic, we act as a catalyser for developing new and exciting applications of drone technology.”

HERE is currently developing the Reality Index, which is a “rich real-time digital representation of the physical world.” Based on the companies' commercial agreement, HERE’s map and location data from the Reality Index will be integrated into Unifly’s applications, in an effort to provide a “more and more robust picture of the low-altitude airspace.”

“Drones will be the ultimate users of the Reality Index™, the rich real-time digital representation of the physical world we’re creating,” says Leon van de Pas, Senior VP Internet of Things at HERE Technologies.

“By combining our location technologies with the drone traffic management expertise of Unifly, we’re excited to help shape the future of this growing industry.”

​During CES 2018, Unifly and HERE provided attendees with a demonstration of the airspace map. According to Laurent Huenaerts, VP Business Development, North America at Unifly, visitors were quite impressed with this technology.

"The visitors were quite enthusiastic, while at the same time they were surprised that such technology is not science-fiction, it already exists today!" Huenaerts told AUVSI via email.

Huenaerts added that "complete and accurate information about both airspace rules and ground data, is essential for the safe integration of drones into the airspace."