After graduating from Google X last year, drone delivery service Project Wing has come a long way. Not only has it bloomed into an independent Alphabet business, it also won governmental approval to operate in the suburbs outside the Australian capital, Canberra recently. Wing’s services in Canberra deliver food, coffee, pet supplies and more to area residents.
Going forward on similar lines Wing has now launched a new app for drone flyers. Known as ‘OpenSky’ this app will help drone users find safe places and times to fly their drones or drone fleets.
The app which is targeted at recreational drone owners as well as commercial drone operators was launched on the iOS App Store and Google Play last Tuesday without much fanfare. The Wing website explains, OpenSky wants to make it easier to find out when and where you can fly, whether you’re a “hobbyist who loves to fly” or a business that “uses unmanned aircraft to survey land or deliver goods.”
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has stated that it will soon retire its own “Can I fly there?” app in favour of a remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) digital platform to which app developers can connect their own drone safety apps. OpenSky is the first third-party app to be approved that uses this new system.
It was back In June that Wing published a blog post explaining that it would assist CASA with launching an ecosystem of apps to support safe drone flight. However, it hadn’t revealed details of the kind of apps it was launching or when they would arrive.
Much like any common app the new ‘OpenSky’ app is straightforward to use. As a user, one can go on the menu and select the type of drone operator one is — either recreational, commercial (flying drones commercially less than 2kg) or ReOC (flying drones commercially with an operator certificate issued by CASA). Then by entering addresses in the map’s search box the user can look up information about the no-fly zones and other restrictions that may be in place, as well as view the related CASA compliance maps for guidance. Features are also available to help users identify flight hazards and a link to report unsafe drone operations directly to CASA.
Wing Project Manager Reinaldo Negron wrote in the post, “Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is taking an innovative approach to giving drone operators information to enable safe and predictable flight. By allowing the drone industry to implement a diverse ecosystem of apps and services which drone flyers can use to obtain flight-related information, CASA is creating space for innovation while ensuring a strong baseline of public safety and regulatory oversight.”
In addition to the drone safety apps, Wing said it also is developing tools for CASA to communicate with drone flyers during major events such as sporting matches, concerts and emergency response incidents.
“Over time, a CASA-approved ecosystem of apps and services will enhance drone operator choice, public safety, and spur further innovation in the drone industry. By enabling this ecosystem, CASA and the Australian Government provide a compelling example to other countries seeking to safely integrate drones into their national aviation system, and we’re excited to help support the future of Australian drone flight with them,” Negron further said.
In addition to its launch on the app stores, OpenSky is also available on the web.
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