Iris Automation Receives FAA Approval for Beyond Visual Drone Flight in Nevada

Iris Automation Receives FAA Approval for Beyond Visual Drone Flight in Nevada

The FAA recently granted approval to Iris Automation to commence drone flights over the line of sight in Nevada. (Photo: Iris Automation / Fire Brigade of the Municipality of Reno)

Avionics technology company Iris Automation has obtained approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the flight of automated drones beyond the line of sight (BVLOS) in an uninhabited area near the city of Reno, Nevada. The City of Reno was one of nine key participants who worked with the FAA during the Pilot Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Program (UAS), which ended in October 2020.

The FAA immediately resumed its work in collaboration with the City of Reno under a new program called BEYOND, building on the foundations established during the UAS Integration Pilot Program. Primarily, BEYOND aims to address the challenges associated with UAS integration. The collaboration with Iris Automation serves, in part, to improve rescue intervention times during river rescue operations by the Reno Fire Brigade. The expectation, according to the Municipality of Reno, is that “the use of UAS will have a significant positive impact on saving the lives of victims and reducing the resources needed to conduct these operations “.

FAA approval has been awarded to Iris Automation for the company to use Casia X, its advanced detection and avoidance (DAA) technology, and explore its ability to increase safety in rescue operations. The Casia system is able to operate on board an aircraft as well as in a ground configuration. According to Iris’s announcement, “on-board sensors such as Casia X, combined with carefully designed operating concepts, provide a cost-effective and scalable solution, enabling high levels of safety.” In coordination with the FAA, Iris worked to develop its DAA technology to mitigate the risks of aircraft collision and to facilitate the integration of unmanned aircraft into airspace.

Of the 41 water rescues performed annually by Reno firefighters, 85 percent of them take place in the center of the Truckee River and 10 percent in the dark. Rescue operations in the water are already extremely dangerous for both the victims and the rescue team, but by moving the water like a river the level of danger is even higher. This is where a UAS aircraft could help: Enabling BVLOS capability for rescue operations means fewer fire brigade personnel will be placed in dangerous situations, according to Reno firefighters. “Drones enable us. to fly safely in a snap, with new and more effective approaches to making our downtown river corridor safer, saving time and money, ”said Dave Cochran, Reno Fire Chief. He hopes this approval FAA for BVLOS drone operations make it easier for other firefighters and public agencies to incorporate UAS into their operations.

Iris Automation’s Casia X detection and avoidance technology can increase the safety of Reno firefighters during search and rescue operations. (Photo: Iris)

By participating in the BEYOND program and partnering with the FAA, the City of Reno engages with a variety of both public and industry stakeholders and has the opportunity to set safety and performance standards for the operation of BVLOS. “The BEYOND program,” commented Jon Damush, CEO of Iris, “is an important example of constructive cooperation between government and industry and a testament to the forward-thinking leadership of the City of Reno. We are thrilled to work side-by-side with the FAA and the our hometown, providing our technology to improve the daily lives of our community and beyond. “

UAV Navigation and Iris Automation entered into a partnership in August last year to augment the Casia X system with UAV Navigation’s VECTOR autopilot system and enable advanced DAA operations for autonomous aircraft. Casia software, which uses artificial intelligence and machine vision for BVLOS operations, has recently been improved in performance and flight data loading. The VECTOR autopilot system adds the ability for aircraft to avoid collisions when remote control data links may be lost.

A few weeks after the announcement of the partnership with UAV Navigation, Iris entered into an agreement with Swoop Aero to create a BVLOS drone navigation system that would be incorporated into Swoop Aero’s FAA certified Kite aircraft. Iris CEO Jon Damush noted in the announcement, “Demand for these use cases is highest in regions with strict aviation safety standards and avoiding mid-air collisions is the most important aspect of reducing risk. airplane”.

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