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Altitude Angel releases Scout, an open-source remote ID platform 

Altitude Angel logoAltitude Angel, a London, U.K.-based unmanned traffic management (UTM) technology provider, is releasing an open-sourced project, Scout.

Scout’s hardware and firmware enable drone manufacturers, software developers and commercial drone pilots to quickly connect to its global UTM.

Primarily intended for use in commercial and industrial drone applications, Scout provides the capability to securely obtain and broadcast a form of network remote ID, widely seen as a necessary step for enabling routine drone use and flights beyond visual line of sight.

Because it is open source, both the hardware and the firmware can be enhanced and incorporated into a virtually limitless set of scenarios, according to Altitude Angel.

Altitude Angel also has made available a surveillance API that allows integrators to both share and receive flight data from a variety of sensors and devices in near real time, providing a comprehensive real-time picture of the airspace. 

While many remote ID systems are broadcast only, Scout offers two-way communication and is fully open-sourced. The ability to talk back to the drone enables the Altitude Angel UTM service to help the drone avoid collisions with other aerial vehicles, or restricted airspace.

From launch, Scout will use identifiers obtained freely from Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM platform. It will work in combination with a pre-flight (flight-plan sharing) service and is supported through integration with Altitude Angel’s Tactical Conflict Resolution Service.

Scout will enable the drone to report its real-time location using GPS-type sensors and relay this data via a secure, encrypted mobile communications link across 3G, 4G and 5G networks to Altitude Angel. It is powered by an internal rechargeable (via micro USB) lithium battery.

Altitude Angel has also provided reference design plans for the case that can be 3D printed. Scout has been designed to satisfy emerging network remote ID standards, such as ASTM.

Because the firmware is open source, the telemetry can be sent to other systems as required by the implementor.

A two-wire I2C upgrade to the circuit schematics, plus version 2 of the firmware (both scheduled for June), will subsequently enable the full two-way communication between the Scout device and the drone’s onboard systems, allowing the drone to respond directly to information received from the UTM.

In the interim, early adopters will have the opportunity to begin to integrate with Altitude Angel’s UTM services, test the hardware and test communication. Position data Altitude Angel receives from Scout is then automatically used by its Flight Information Management System (FIMS) to help provide traffic deconfliction.

Plans, firmware and schematics can be accessed via the Altitude Angel GitHub repositories.

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