One California city is about to get a set of digital drone highways in the sky. Detroit-based drone flight authorization provider Airspace Link announced that it would implement a “first-of-its-kind digital drone infrastructure in the sky,” in Ontario, Calif.
Airspace Link began as an FAA-approved UAS Service Supplier of the Low Altitude Authorization & Notification Capability (LAANC). The LAANC program was integral in allowing any drone pilots to gain access to fly in controlled airspace through an automated approval process. Those approvals were issued by LAANC service suppliers like Airspace Link, among others including Kittyhawk and Verizon-owned Skyward.
But Airspace Link has also been building out a low altitude drone infrastructure, intended for deployment to local communities and airports
“to support the safe use of recreational and commercial drone use in the region,” in theory building out “Smart Cities,” that can support drones and air taxis.
And one of those Smart Cities might just be Ontario, Calif.. The Southern California city of Ontario is located about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. And that city can claim the title as the first city in California to use Airspace Link’s platform called AirHub, a GIS-based digital mapping system to determine the optimal route for a drone to take on the way to pick up and deliver items.
Whether the deliveries are your latest Amazon order, an AED sent by an emergency responder or vaccines sent by doctors, the AirHub system makes sure those drones are all able to safely travel over the most optimal routes.
Airspace Link co-founder Ana Healander said Ontario was chosen for a number of reasons, including relative growth of recreational flight and commercial drone traffic across the state. California has among the highest rate of drone pilots, with an estimated 55.6 drone pilots per 100,000 residents, according to a study by Brad College.
“We are pleased to see the leadership in Ontario ensure their community has the right safety procedures in place and is ready to support advanced commercial drone operations, like package delivery,” said Healander.
Ontario also has a fairly large-sized airport with Ontario International Airport, providing another opportunity for the city and Airspace Link to collaborate with the Federal Aviation Administration to open up more airspace to support drone flights via LAANC.