This project in Atlanta, home to the world’s busiest airport, is the elusive proof that drones and airplanes can cohabit provided necessary safety factors are included in the planning and implementation stage.
You normally wouldn’t put drones and airports in the same sentence due to heightened fear of accidents. However Atlanta’s airport will prove you wrong.
The City’s air hub has partnered with 3DR, Autodesk and Atkins, an engineering firm to map out Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as part of an expansion project.
A key component in the entire project is 3DR’s autonomous data capturing technology called Site Scan. Using the tech, drones can capture 2D mosaics and 3D point scans while remaining at a safe distance from busy airliners.
While this might seem like a simple affair it is no small task given the fact that drones have to fly between the runways of the world’s busiest airport which hosts more than 100 million passengers per year.
One of the biggest challenges that was facing the project was getting the go-ahead from the FAA, which always plays very safe given the number of lives that are at risk.
Site Scan’s mapping was crucial in convincing the FAA that the project’s drones would not fly into the path of incoming and outgoing airplanes. As you might imagine, the FAA, before giving its approval, had insisted that drone operators stay in constant touch with the airport’s Air Traffic Controllers and submit to their authority.
The project will help map out which old buildings can be demolished safely and help create early models for their replacements. The dividends from this projects could be plentiful in the near future.
3DR also hopes that the lessons it learned in getting clearance from the FAA could help other commercial drone operators with their projects. To this end, it has published a few tools which other companies can use so that in the near future drones and airplanes can mix and mingle without bumping into one another.