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Tech Talk: A System for Sharing Telemetry Data

  • Needs a date

  • Needs a location

  • A fellow DC DUG member, Ankur, is back with another tech talk, this time about a system he has developed for sharing of telemetry data. 

    Note: We're awaiting approval for a venue for this talk. Please stay tuned. 


    Small UAV’s (sUAV) today only communicate with their pilot and the ground control station (GCS) application running on the pilot’s PC or tablet. No mechanism exists for sUAVs to share telemetry info such as position, heading, altitude etc., with other sUAV pilots and more importantly, with federal, state and local authorities tasked with maintaining the security of the national airspace system. The invisibility of sUAVs to those not directly flying them has led to a justified fear of an sUAV inadvertently violating airspace regulations, or even worse, coming in the way of a manned airplane and causing an accident. This concern has resulted in overly draconian restrictions on where and how high sUAVs can be operated.

    In this document, we describe a client-server architecture to create a distributed system to disseminate sUAV telemetry information over a network where it can be easily shared by other authorized pilots and aviation law enforcement in a robust, secure and efficient manner. The proposed design consists of three primary modules. A device receives telemetry information over a communication port, applies any necessary decoding and then sends it to a server. A server is a program running locally or on a remote computer that receives data from multiple devices and sends a subset of this data to authorized clients. A server also implements authorization, storage, analytics and other features. A client enables a user to submit search queries to the server (e.g.: ‘Show me all sUAVs flying within 15 miles of my airport’) and receive a list of all sUAVs that meet the search criteria. The client can also implement dashboards for visualizing the telemetry information – for example an instrument dashboard for visualizing the orientation, heading, altitude and a map to show the position of the sUAVs.

    While our system requires the user to have a network connection, this requirement is not a problem even when the user is out of range of a wired internet connection or Wi-Fi network. A user can simply use their mobile phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot and connect their computer to this hotspot. Other technologies such as satellite internet connections and long range mesh networks can also be used. Since the bandwidth requirements for sending basic telemetry data such as position, speed and heading are low (and configurable), a low bandwidth connection is adequate.

    We will then describe an implementation of the client-server platform built using web technologies, which provide the ideal framework for implementing such a system. A platform built with such technologies leads to easier installation, cross-platform support and greater code reuse, as well as provide a wealth of user experience (UX), rendering, data storage and retrieval capabilities out of the box. We will also consider how this design can be used to develop extensible and modular GCS applications themselves.

    Finally, we will describe our prototype implementation that demonstrates many features of our overall vision outlined here and provides a convincing preview of the power and promise of the proposed technology.

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