The Drone industry is about to get a huge upgrade, courtesy of market leaders Echodyane and DJI. Echodyne, the radar venture that’s funded and backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. It has teamed up with drone maker Skyfront and safety avionics company Iris Automation for a ground-breaking BVLOS (flight beyond visual line of sight) flight. The company is playing a crucial role in this test flight.

The drone mission was conducted by a private-public consortium led by the University of Alaska’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) team, with special participation from Alyeska Pipeline Service.

The drone flight was the first-ever FAA-authorized test flight of a drone using the BVLOS flight.

The ground-breaking mission

The drone mission was conducted using a Skyfront Perimeter multirotor drone, equipped with Iris Automation’s Casia onboard collision avoidance system and Echodyne’s ground-based MESA airspace management radar technology. The mission involved a four-mile linear inspection of the Alyeska Trans-Alaska pipeline near Fox in Alaska. The big thing about this drone flight is that it combined safety with endurance flight and demonstrated the first-ever BLVOS flight.

Echodyne, the startup with financial backing from Bill Gates, is taking a big role in this latest drone flight. The company’s innovative radar system works with Casia system (Iris Automation) to direct the drone and ensure safety.

Echodyne’s radar uses specially structured electronics and relies on metamaterials technology, which allows the radar to match the performance of much larger and more expensive systems.

Based in Kirkland in Washington, Echodyne develops and provides high-performance radar technology for critical infrastructure protection, border security, autonomous vehicles, and unmanned aircraft systems.

Echodyne is a privately-held company and is backed by NEA, Vulcan Capital, Lux Capital, NEA, Madrona Venture Group and Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates.

The drone mission demonstrated the true value of having an effective onboard detection and avoidance system in ensuring safety in drone flight. Echodyne has already worked on several drone tests, involving detect and avoid technologies.

The company’s EchoGuard radar system has been selected by NASA’s UAS Traffic Management in its recent urban tests in Nevada and Texas.

DJI enters HD world, announces a new addition

In another tech-related story, DJI is taking a huge leap, going for the HD world. DJI has just announced new integrated gear, which DJI said would give operators 720p HD vision at 120 frames per second and 1080p/60fps video recording. The new tech gear can support up to eight frequency channels and range up to 4 km or 2.48 miles. In addition, there’s also a new controller that talks to the goggles and the drone.

However, the new gear comes at a hefty price tag, around $819 without the high-tech controller, and $929 with that controller. For more about this new fully integrated digital solution, check out DJI’s official website.