Inmarsat, a provider of global, mobile satellite communications, has announced a new partnership network for its ground-breaking Velaris connectivity solution and confirmed the first member is set to be Altitude Angel, the world’s leading Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) technology provider.
As part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed this week, the two companies will explore opportunities to further integrate Inmarsat’s recently-launched Velaris connectivity solution for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) with Altitude Angel’s market-leading UTM technology. Together, they will offer secure communications for commercial UAVs – commonly known as drones – to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) on long distance flights and access applications, including real-time monitoring, to ensure safe integration with aircraft in commercial airspace.
The new agreement will strengthen the existing partnership between Inmarsat and Altitude Angel, which has initially focused on the development of a Pop-Up UTM platform that delivers advanced flight tracking and management capability for UAVs. The solution has already been successfully demonstrated on a number of flights, offering full situational awareness to the operator team and preventing any potential conflicts with commercial aircraft. In addition, the Pop-Up UTM was crowned winner of Air Traffic Management Magazine’s UTM Service Supplier Award earlier this year and has been shortlisted in the prestigious Maverick Awards innovation category at World ATM Congress 2021, taking place this week.
Anthony Spouncer, Inmarsat’s Senior Director of UAVs and UTM, said: “Inmarsat’s Velaris Partner Network (VPN) allows us to develop an unparalleled array of end-to-end UAV solutions and capabilities, working alongside a world-class ecosystem of leading players from across the industry. We are delighted that Altitude Angel has been announced as the first member and look forward to expanding the network further, with the additional of both new and well-established companies expected in the near future.”
Phil Binks, Altitude Angel’s Head of UTM, said: “Our Pop-Up UTM platform has received an outstanding response from the UAV industry, showing the immense potential for unmanned traffic management to enable safe, highly-automated UAV flights in both urban and rural environments. As the inaugural member of Inmarsat’s Velaris Partner Network, we will build on this momentum together by developing cutting-edge new innovations for this fast growing market that combine our unique individual strengths.”
The announcement comes a day after Inmarsat and Cranfield University published a new report, titled ‘UAVs: Unlocking positive transformation in the world’, which examines the wealth of new possibilities and applications unlocked by commercial UAVs. A key finding was the potential of UAVs to almost half the CO2 emissions of urban freight transport compared to small light commercial vehicles (LCVs), providing an unprecedented opportunity to reduce the logistics industry’s environmental impact.
The report, which analyses both new and existing research, also identifies the many other commercial advantages provided by UAVs to organisations that embrace the technology and adopt new operational methods, with cost and time savings leading to enhanced supply chain and business efficiencies. In addition, it explores the considerable benefits that extend beyond those driven by commercial gain, such as delivering humanitarian and medical aid to remote communities and conflict zones, surveillance to protect endangered animals from poachers, and monitoring for illegal deforestation or mining operations.
Velaris is powered by Inmarsat’s ELERA global satellite network, which delivers the world’s most reliable and flexible global connectivity, with full global redundancy and unique resilience in all conditions. ELERA capabilities will be enhanced further with the upcoming addition of Inmarsat-6 satellites, the largest and most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever built, the first of which (I-6F1) is scheduled to launch before the end of the year. The L-band capacity on each I-6 satellite will be substantially greater than Inmarsat’s 4th generation spacecraft and, among other enhancements, delivers 50% more capacity per beam in addition to unlimited beam routing flexibility.