Ohio picks Beavercreek company's drone management system

·2 min read

May 26—Looking for software to monitor and control drones statewide, the Ohio Department of Transportation recently hired a Beavercreek company to help in the task.

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) selected CAL's Analytics for the company's UAS Service Supplier (USS) platform.

The company says the agreement is the culmination of a multi-year build-up of CAL's platform, a journey that started in 2019 with a $1.4 million award from the Ohio Federal Research Network to develop a management system for state drone operations.

Sean Calhoun, owner and managing director of CAL Analytics, said his company has worked with ODOT for a while. "They were one of the primary customers we've been targeting with the technology," he said in a recent interview.

"We've been finally able to seal the deal and push forward with our platform as kind of the basis of their statewide network," he added.

ODOT has been building out a "digital infrastructure" to support drone operations — everything from small drones that inspect bridges (and other infrastructure), help first-responders or assist in land surveys, Calhoun said.

CAL's system will help ODOT manage its drones, staying on top of where they are, looking for general aviation aircraft that don't have transponders, the avionic systems that identify an airplane and its altitude.

The system will identify areas where drones can and can't fly. It will help ODOT know, for example, to avoid an area where a medical evacuation helicopter is headed. It can also direct drones to look for untapped wells, traffic conditions and more.

As Calhoun sees it, his company is building the foundation for an airspace management system for small drones operating at low altitudes, where the Federal Aviation Administration doesn't rule the roost.

CAL is based in Beavercreek, with offices in Columbus, with about 15 employees statewide. It intends to establish a presence at the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal airport, too.

The Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) has supported the company. The network is a partnership between Beavercreek's Parallax Advanced Research and Ohio State University to commercialize academic research.

"This agreement between CAL Analytics and ODOT is a big win for the state of Ohio and the UAS ecosystem," said retired Maj Gen Mark Bartman, senior advisor to Parallax Advanced Research and the OFRN. "Ohio is a leader in advanced air mobility UAS (unmanned aerial systems) operations, and we, at OFRN, are proud to have played a part in supporting new technology and innovation development to support this important initiative."