ARL provides UAS support at Kona Ironman Championships


ARL @ UH provided both “pro” and “counter” UAS support at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. The high profile event brings over 2,000 of the worlds best athletes and throngs of spectators to Kona. This year, the race director, John Berch, was interested in using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to increase the safety of competitor and spectators alike. John worked with the UH ARL UAS Program in conjunction with the Hawaii State Fusion Center to develop both counter and pro UAS capabilities for the vulnerable areas across the race track. Counter UAS services were provided by Drone Shield, who use radio frequency and radar information to identify and track UAS in flight. The ARL UAS team was able to using this information to detect and locate unexpected UAS operations

“Pro Drone” activities involved using both heavy-lifer UAS with high-resolution cameras and smaller, more mobile platforms to monitor the swim portion of the race and the densely populated start ares, and assess traffic flow efficiency at critical intersections where bike and run paths overlapped. Live video feeds from the UAS were available for assessment in the Race Operations Center using cabled or wireless infrastructure. The ability to use various types of platforms allowed the ARL UAS team to operate successfully in a variety of operational circumstances.