Palo Alto Firm Unveils Miniature ADS-B Transceiver

New technology, the size of a contact lens, could help keep drones separated from manned aircraft.

uAvionix ADS-B Tranceiver
uAvionix's tiny ADS-B transceiver allows a drone to identify itself to other ADS-B-equipped aircraft as far away as 10 miles.uAvionix

Palo Alto-based uAvionix has announced the creation of an ADS-B transceiver not much larger than a contact lens — and weighing in at just 1 gram — aimed at the drone market’s yet unresolved problem of identifying themselves to other aircraft and drones while operating in the national airspace system.

uAvionix CEO Paul Beard said the genesis of the tiny UAT was to demonstrate what could be developed in light of a recent Mitre study that imagines a world of high-density drone operations all trying to keep themselves separated from each other. The Mitre study concluded that an ADS-B transceiver with a transmitter power of less that 0.1 watt might be just the solution the industry will need.

The tiny UAT’s transmitter power can vary between 0.01-0.25 watt. That translates into a drone capable of identifying itself to other aircraft equipped with ADS-B In technology as far away as 10 miles. The unit’s size also makes it small enough to integrate directly into professional- and consumer-level drones.

Beard said, “While it’s not yet legal to transmit at these low power outputs, we aim to lead the discussion and development of those standards.” uAvionix is working with the FAA and other partners under a collaborative research and development agreement to test the tiny UAT and other uAvionix products.