I'm a guy who's been in the electronics and software industry for over 40 years and have a very strong background in RF, digital and analog systems.
I recently started putting that expertise to work in an attempt to come up with an effective and affordable "Sense And Avoid" (SAA) system -- at least in part because I fly FPV RC model aircraft and for these to be flown safely "beyond visual line of sight", some form of SAA is required.
After spending a considerable amount of time investigating previous strategies and considering the strengths and weaknesses of the available technologies, I have designed and prototyped a system that delivers a 1-mile "sphere of awareness" around any craft on which it is installed.
It does not rely on transponders (thus will "sense" *any* potential threat within that 1-mile sphere) and is small/light (250g) enough to be fitted to all but the smallest unmanned craft. The price (in volume production) would also be very reasonable -- about US$250.
Initial (ground-based, static) testing has shown that the prototype system conforms very closely to the design goals and expectations -- the next step is to strap a second prototype to a small foam RC model plane and start collecting dynamic data which will be used to test and refine the firmware.
Unfortunately -- this is where everything turns to custard.
The national airspace administrator here in New Zealand is CAA (our equivalent of the USA's FAA). They, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that since what I'm working on has significant commercial potential, I can not continue my development work (ie: strap this thing to a small foam RC model and fly it over a grassy paddock in the countryside) without first gaining a "commercial operating authority".
Now I've been flying RC models for almost 50 years and have a very high level of skill. Hell, I have two very popular YouTube channels with a total of over 45 million views and 100K subscribers in which I entertain and inform folks on the subject of RC models. However, all this counts for nothing and, according to CAA, if I want to continue my development of this technology by strapping it (as a passive payload) to the type of small foam model that thousands of folk fly here every weekend, I must jump a raft of ridiculous hurdles.
Firstly, the "minimum requirement" is a full-sized pilot's license -- which costs about $18K to obtain in this country.
Secondly, I have to file all sorts of safety plans, obtain a radio qualification and engage in a huge amount of bureaucratic crap -- simply to do what I've done as a hobbyist for decades -- fly a tiny (900g) foam RC plane over a grassy field in the countryside.
Now I don't have $18K to spend getting a pilot's license, besides which, this is silly bureaucratic nonsense!
As a result, the technology which I've developed and which stands to be a real "game changer" with massive export/earnings potential for this tiny nation that keeps crowing about its "innovative tech sector" is becalmed because some idiot desk-jockies seem to think that somehow, simply because what I'm doing has commercial potential, any RC flying I do will result in widespread death and destruction -- unless I spend months filling in forms, learning to fly a full-sized plane and licking boots.
This, my friends, is why New Zealand barely qualifies as a first-world country and will *never* play any significant role in the tech world.
Meanwhile, the same country spends $1m of taxpayers' money on something as lame and dangerous as the Martin Jetpack.
Those who ask "why not just find a quiet spot and test it anyway without telling anyone?"... well CAA have advised me that if I dare to do this without the required "authority", they will take "enforcement action" against me. So, if I turn around and say "I've tested it and it works" then it's "do not collect $200, do not pass go, go directly to jail".
And for those who ask "if this technology works as well as you say, why not get an investor to fund you or partner with someone who already has the necessary authority?"... My original goal was to produce a low-cost solution that could be used by the RC model community to make the hobby of FPV flying much safer. I don't need investors, I have enough money to continue the development and testing because that's mainly sweat-equity. To bring in investors or partners at this stage would result in the final cost of the system escallating far beyond that which could be afforded by hobbyists -- investors/partners generally want significant returns on their investments.
And there's also the matter of principle here.