Drone company Iris Automation makes first-of-its-kind FAA-approved ‘blind’ drone flight

Iris Automation, which was named to the 2019 CNBC Upstart 100 list on Tuesday, successfully completed the first FAA-approved drone flight taking place “beyond the visual line of sight” and using only onboard detect-and-avoid systems. In the past, the FAA would have required two things for a BVLOS drone flight: a manned observer and ground-based radar.

According to Kansas Department of Transportation director of aviation Bob Brock, the approach taken by Kansas is a big change from the way other states, as well as universities, have conducted drone tests, which he said can be expensive and limiting. Until now, most flights have included human observers and radar systems installed on the ground that can cost $50 million, which he described as “a tremendous amount of investment to make possible for a very small geographic area.”