Case study

Drone Data Platform for Safe and Regulated Flights

We helped a drone mapping startup pursue a safe, collaborative future for drone navigation

Key features

  • Create aeronautical maps

    Create aeronautical maps

  • Ensure regulated flights

    Ensure regulated flights

  • Customize airspace navigation

    Customize airspace navigation

Aviation, aerospace
US, California
Team size:
9 members
2014 –present

AWS / CSS3 / Docker / HTML5 / Java / JavaScript / Kubernetes / Mapbox GL / Node.JS / PostGIS / PostgreSQL / Python / React / Redux / REST Assured / Selenium / SQLAlchemy

About the client

Our client is a leading provider of aeronautical data and services for drones navigation, helping make the future drone-saturated world a safer, legally regulated, and responsible place. Their product portfolio includes drone software platform for identification of restricted areas, traffic management, geofencing, remote identification, and cybersecurity.

Drone Data Platform for Safe and Regulated Flights

Our client came with the challenge

Digital maps and location services create the basis of navigation for aerial vehicles, also known as drones. From path planning, fleet management, to regulated maneuvering and avoidance of obstacles, location is key.

To the customer, a US technology startup, Intellias’ location expertise was crucial for starting the partnership to create drone management software. The objective was to develop a secure, scalable, and flexible cloud-based drone data management system for direct communication among air traffic control systems, drone operators, and drones themselves. Our client planned to reshape the drone navigation business first in the USA and later expand globally. To ensure flight efficiency and air safety at the national level, the drone management platform needed a massive amount of data to map and understand the environment around drones for traffic management.

Intellias developed drone data software for safe and regulated flights

We started the partnership at the early prototyping stage with a tentative project plan to deliver our drone software development services. The plan presupposed contribution to map production and platform architecture, including API design, data migrations, reduction of technical debt and quality control.

We ran the development in bi-weekly Scrum cycles with official quarterly releases. To achieve supreme quality, we followed quality control procedures that were aligned with the delivery goals. We practiced testing as an integral component of the development process and DevOps. The Intellias QA team automated the majority of tests run in a SiL environment and on real drones, limiting manual testing to ad-hoc checks for bottlenecks and edge cases.

Production of quality, fresh and precise aeronautical maps was the highest priority. Our data engineers enriched and normalized 2D maps with safety-critical third-party data: fly zones, temporary flight restrictions, powerlines, building heights, weather and more. As a result, we delivered a TileJSONspecification for use with Mapbox GL, which not only served the mapping needs of our platform but was also offered as a map SDK.

Planning and operating a safe and efficient flight required modeling a highly complex flight profile. The profile considered a number of conditions: aviation regulations, automated authorization in controlled airspace via D-NAS, mass distribution, energy consumption, weather and possible obstacles. Navigating such a complex terrain required precise and up-to-date mapping, regulation compliance, real-time airspace awareness and algorithmic knowledge.

What did our client get?

  • Rich and auto-updated airspace vector maps
  • Mobile and web apps for pre-flight planning and regulated flying
  • Dashboard for communicating digital flight plans to airports based on D-NAS
  • SDKs for developing custom web, iOS and Android solutions powered by airspace intelligence
  • API for defining the level of safety to fly a drone to a specific coordinate
  • API for geometry analysis of all local low-altitude airspace advisories
  • API for identifying drones and authenticating drone operators
  • API for running a search by drone metadata, manufacturers, and models

Together we achieved great results

The launch of the platform was a success: it opened the sky to 80% of drone businesses in the USA. The platform granted instant, automated FAA authorization in controlled airspace that used to take up to 3 months. This engaged new clients from industries that could make use of drones: logistics, infrastructure, public safety, real estate, and construction, all of which serve populated areas and have high-security concerns. Together with the development teams of our client, Intellias’ engineers continue prototyping technologies for producing UAS maps, dynamic geofencing, airspace design, congestion management, and terrain avoidance to set international standards for airspace integration requirements.

Benefits to the client:

  • Airspace maps with global coverage
  • Localization of aviation regulations for the USA, the UK, Japan, New Zealand, and Canada
  • Display of no-fly zones by federal administrations
  • Automating digital authorization with LAANC
  • Built-in land elevation model as the basis for collision avoidance
  • Obstacle identification based on real-time flight altitude, heading, and speed
  • Visual and audible safety recommendations to drone operators

The way of working with Intellias offers us to increase our productivity while keeping our costs in check. The same time Intellias has a very interesting service model because it’s much more a partner. This is a premium partnership for us.

CTO at Drones Navigation company

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