Konstanz, 01st December 2020 – The drone flight management software specialists Unisphere announced the release of their latest product, NOVA Operations Platform (previously: Flight Forecast). It addresses the need of commercial BVLOS drone operators to identify suitable flight conditions up to 7 days ahead.
Variables Affecting Drone Operations
Professional drone applications require the operator to perform flight planning to a level, previously only known by commercial aviation. By their very nature, drones and air taxis are sensitive to weather conditions. Wind speed, precipitation, visibility, cloud layers, and icing potential are parameters that significantly affect operations. Every aircraft has airframe limitations such as maximum crosswind, temperature range, or endurance, which must be aligned with weather predictions. Payload limitations may impose additional restrictions, e.g. minimum visibilities to spot an object or constraints on solar radiation and sun position affecting sensor performance. A layer of complexity often underestimated are operational limitations. These can be anything from “daylight only” to “VFR conditions” to “two hours lunch break for noise abatement” or “minimum endurance remaining of 5min at landing”. Commercial operators must understand how each of these variables affects their service and value proposition to the customer, directly or indirectly.
Accuracy, Transparency, and Repeatability
Today´s drone operators have access to a myriad of weather information: basic weather apps, domestic weather service, TV services and weather APIs. Some sources lack accuracy and are only applicable for basic information. Other require post-processing but neither provides detailed environmental conditions along a flight path. Until now, elaborate, manual data analysis has been the only option to create accurate flight forecasts, resembling the work of meteorologists and flight dispatchers from the 1930s. A very current demand however is the requirement to have flight forecast information available at any time within an organization. An email distribution list is certainly not the best tool to share information with distributed teams and even customers. Finally, providing forecasts is a highly repetitive task that must be executed several times per day. The effort also multiplies with the number of routes, different airframes, payload, and operational limitations. Automation of this process is necessary to scale operations of drones and air taxis creating sustainable business cases with unmanned aircraft.
Using Unisphere's 7-day forecast for BVLOS Drone Operations
Unisphere's NOVA Operations Platform is a unique service automating commercial pilot know-how. Flight teams can create 7-day forecasts for individual VLOS and BVLOS routes and altitude profiles. They benefit from a single source of weather information – worldwide high-resolution weather data with more than 1.000 parameters and can integrate specific drone capabilities and limitations. Enterprises enjoy simplified workflows and access to commercial aviation know-how through customizable software. The intuitive visualizations and a user management system create transparency and speed up communication within the team, to partners and customers.
“NOVA Operations Platform supports the scheduling and risk mitigation of our drone operations in Switzerland. The intuitive visualizations help us to resolve the complexity of planning our drone services in multiple locations. Such tools will be crucial for future drone operations at scale.” said Andrea Marrazzo, Head of Autonomous Delivery, Swiss Post.
“We advance unmanned aviation with smart software solutions. Automating the full process of flight management is a prerequisite for any unmanned aircraft operation at scale. Our customers of drones, air taxis and high-altitude platforms in Europe and the United States are proving that NOVA Operations Platform solves a problem of commercial operators.” added Christoph Schlettig, Founder of Unisphere.