2024 drone tech progress: 6 new products from drone companies that dropped in February 2024

It’s shaping up to be a strong year for tech developments — if this month is any new indication. A large handful of drone companies dropped some pretty major 2024 drone tech product developments, which we’ve rounded up into one post.

This is hardly a comprehensive list of everything that changed or launched in drones this month, but rather a roundup of six of the most important pieces of drone tech progress in 2024 that you should know about so far:

Heavy VTOL drone gets LiDAR integration

2024 drone tech Event382024 drone tech Event38
Image courtesy of Event38

Event 38 Unmanned Systems, which is known for making the Heavy VTOL E455 Drone, in February launched an integration so that the drone can now be paired with multiple LiDAR systems.

Among those LiDAR systems include the Resepi Hesai LIDAR HT-32 developed by Inertial Labs, as well as NDAA Compliant LiDAR models such as the RESEPI Ouster OS1-64. The development also means that the E455 drone can carry RESEPI (Remote Sensing Payload Instrument), which is a sensor-fusion platform designed for accuracy-focused remote sensing applications.

It’s a pretty compelling proposition, particularly considering the long flight time. In fact, the drone’s flight times are still capable of exceeding two hours, even with the LiDAR systems attached.

The news could be important for people using drones for aerial surveying and mapping, as now users have a more turnkey solution for achieving high pulse rate, LiDAR scans. In short, that means drone pilots could potentially collect thousands of acres of survey grade data in a single workday.

Wingtra releases LiDAR payload

2024 drone tech Wingtra LiDAR payload2024 drone tech Wingtra LiDAR payload

That’s not the only LiDAR news. On Feb. 12, Zurich-based Wingtra launched its LIDAR drone solution. Wingtra is already know for its WingtraOne GEN II drones, which are high-end yet easy to use drones.

With the introduction of the Wingtra-engineered LIDAR sensor, this drone just unlocked way more use cases. While the drone had already been a tool for mapping for photogrammetric analysis of worksites, the new LIDAR payload offers an all-encompassing solution, covering everything from the initial discovery phase through to project implementation and infrastructure maintenance.

Wingtra LIDAR offers 3 cm (1.2 in) vertical accuracy, verified by lead customers as top of the range from a 60 m (200 ft) flight height.

BlueHalo acquires Eqlipse

Here’s big news for the defense industry — and in particular the counterdrone industry. BlueHalo announced on Feb. 13 its plans to acquire Eqlipse, which could make for a super power in defense technology.

BlueHalo has been around since 2019 and has grown into become a key partner to the DoD. That’s included serving as a prime contractor on big contracts like the Space Force’s $1.4 billion Satellite Communication Augmentation Resource program. As far as drones go, BlueHalo’s claims to fame include being the first to successfully field High Energy Laser Counter drone systems with its LOCUST system. It’s also a leader in radio frequency counter drones. The company has deployed more than 1,000 systems to protect warfighters and critical infrastructure against drone threats.

The acquisition is set to accelerate BlueHalo’s technological advancements — particularly in the drone space. That’s because — upon transaction completion — BlueHalo will hold nearly 90 patents and be the employer of more than 200 PhDs.

MatrixSpace Radar shipments begin

2024 drone tech MatrixSpace Radar2024 drone tech MatrixSpace Radar

MatrixSpace Radar  is now shipping to commercial and public organizations in both the United States and approved international countries. MatrixSpace Radar claims to be the smallest, lightest, low cost, high-performance radar out there (and it also recently received Federal Communications Commission authorization.

The made-in-USA radar system is a useful tool in providing situational awareness of both airborne and ground-based objects, regardless of lighting and weather conditions. That’s important for companies working on drone detection and Counter Unmanned Aircraft System (CUAS) capabilities, as well as just better supporting Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights (and of course, overall general aviation safety).

BlueHalo launches VigilantHalo drone air traffic control software

On Feb. 8, BlueHalo launched a software called VigilantHalo. The software is designed to act as a air traffic control system — useful for beyond visual line of sight drone flights and as a counterdrone tool. Its features allow users to tailor it for use cases such as disaster response or critical infrastructure defense.

Flyability to launch a new payload

Elios 3 drone flyabilityElios 3 drone flyability
Photo of the Elios 3 drone courtesy of Flyability

Perhaps we should save this one until March, but we couldn’t wait. Flyability, which is famous for its indoor drones designed to excel in tight spaces (thanks to the cage surrounding the propellers), gave us a strong hint that we can’t overlook.

Come March 6, 2024 at their annual user conference, Flyability already dropped news that it would launch a new payload designed for its Elios 3 drone’s modular design. While details are slim, Flyability is calling it “a major innovation for non-destructive testing (NDT) and improve safety and data access in this field.”

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