Echodyne gets OK to conduct drone detection at Super Bowl

Installation of the drone detection system is being conducted under guidance of the FBI. (Pixabay)

The FCC has given Echodyne the go-ahead to operate two low powered fixed radar transmitters in the immediate vicinity of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta during Super Bowl LIII on Sunday.

The radars are intended to be used as part of a drone detection system that will be installed at the perimeter of the stadium to alert security personnel, including federal officers, of any unidentified drone activity during the big game, according to material the company submitted to the FCC.

“This operation is intended to evaluate the performance of the radar alongside other sensors in a real-world environment,” the company said. Installation of the drone detection system and the radar units is being conducted by Echodyne and Moog Inc., under the guidance and direction of the FBI.

Based in Bellevue, Washington, Echodyne is authorized to operate in the 24.45-24.65 GHz band for the duration of the test in Atlanta.

The Guardian spotted Echodyne’s application earlier this week and noted that Atlanta police have said there will be a zero-tolerance policy for drones near the Super Bowl stadium, with hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers watching for illegal flights. That follows incidents at Newark airport in New Jersey and last month’s forced closure of Gatwick, Britain’s second-busiest airport, due to reports of rogue drones.

FCC records indicate that Echodyne did submit a request for emergency action on Jan. 18 with the FCC’s Operational Center, noting the importance of the demonstration to protect the safety of life and property, but the temporary closure of the FCC’s experimental licensing system prevented the company from submitting its current request before Jan. 27.

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According to UAS Magazine, Echodyne has developed two versions of its radar systems. One is a drone collision-avoidance radar, designed for mounting on drones, which can help clear the airspace out in front of an aircraft for beyond-line-of-sight operations. The other is a ground-to-air radar for detecting drones. Its big innovation is that it came up with a way to make something that works very similarly to a phased-array, but at pennies on the dollar, Echodyne founder and CEO Eben Frankenberg told the publication.

Last summer, Echodyne announced it had received FCC certification for its EchoFlight radar, which previously was available only for experimental purposes. The company says its lightweight radar offers the ability to scan large volumes of airspace and track other aircraft with sufficient range to maintain safety.