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First U.S. ship-to-shore drone delivery test bolstered by Simulyze operational intelligence

By Steve Bittenbender
Editor, Government Security News

On Thursday, a drone will take off from a ship off the coast of southern New Jersey and conduct the first ship-to-shore delivery in the United States by an unmanned craft.

But it’s not just the drone’s flight that will be tested. An innovative system proven in more than a decade of use in the military will be deployed for civilian purposes to provide information to pilots and other stakeholders about unmanned systems operating in their area.

The event brings together organizations such as the United Nations, the American Red Cross and numerous other groups – including the Field Innovation Team and Simulyze – to conduct research on how drones can be used during disasters and emergencies. During the Thursday’s test, called a “Do Tank,” the drone will drop off a package in Cape May County and then will be given a new package to take back to the ship.

Simulyze provides operational intelligence solutions allowing its clients – both public- and private-sector organizations – to make the best available decision with information they receive in a real-time environment. As the drone, provided by Luftronix, conducts its flight, Simulyze will gather and transmit data from it to the key stakeholders, even providing them with visual data from the unmanned craft.

“Our role in it is… to be able to integrate and show how in flying a drone you can integrate in with other systems,” said Kevin Gallagher, president and CEO of Simulyze. “We’re also going to unveil a new capability. The Federal Aviation Administration has a flight service station for overall aviation. Pilots can go to this portal, Lockheed Martin Flight Services does this, they can pull up their flight plans. They can pull up reports. They can see what else is going on in the area. We’ve built an interface to work with that, so we can take our plans and automatically put them into that system so that the manned aviation community can have insight into what the UAS operations are going to be.”

This new capability, Gallagher said, will have a far reaching impact on the aviation industry, including the manned and unmanned planes, in the United States. It comes at a time when representatives from both communities have worked with the FAA to improve safety in the skies for all flyers.

“Those two communities can start for the first time and work together through a capability that already exists in the National Airspace System,” he added.

In the last year, the FAA has seen a dramatic increase in the number of close calls between unmanned and piloted craft. While most of the headlines regarded close calls with commercial planes as they approached airports, the agency did note that drones interfered with planes engaged in battling wildfires and caused some delays in getting water and other supplies to responders on the ground.

FIT Founder Desiree Matel-Anderson said “Do Tanks” bring together experts from various industries and groups to create innovative solutions to the challenges posed by disasters.

“It’s pivotal that in disaster and crisis we look to support our relief efforts with cutting edge technology,” she said.

Gallagher said he and his staff are excited about participating in it.

“The flight is critically important for moving the drone to more of a commercial reality to support various missions,” he said. “From our perspective, we’re excited about putting our operational intelligence platform out there to be able to help safe and efficient operations. We’re excited to be able to show some really good integration with both the UAS community and the overall aviation community. We think that’s really key to enable UAS regulations to allow commercial operations.”


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