UAV148 Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy

A manned aircraft manufacturer looks ahead to UAS, whale-watching drones, ADS-B for UAS, a report on U.S. drone retail sales, and the U.S. Commerce Department issues privacy guidelines.

News

Air Tractor® Makes Entry into the UAS Market – Acquires Yield Defender

Air Tractor, Inc. produces a number of manned agricultural aircraft: 400, 500, 600 and 800-gallon capacity airplanes powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turbine engines. But they’ve seen the future, and it’s unmanned, so they’ve purchased Hangar 78 UAV and its Yield Defender unmanned aerial system.

Yield Defender DronesAir Tractor President Jim Hirsch says, “We have done our research, and it’s clear that aggressively investing and further developing unmanned aerial systems into agriculture will enable Air Tractor to remain an industry leader and provide the latest technology to ag producers as UAS capabilities mature and are integrated into the industry.”
Yield Defender UAS systems are engineered for the agriculture industry. Their UAS has Near Infrared (NIR) sensors, thermal imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology.

PWWA looks toward regulations of whale watching drones

The Pacific Whale Watch Association wants to make sure whales remain wild. They recognize the research value of drones, but they don’t know if hobby drones disturb whales. Additionally, they say current laws are vague or don’t exist. For now, PWWA asks drone operators to follow the Whale Wise Guidelines: stay at least 200 yards outside the perimeter of a whale or pod, and more than 400 yards from the path of a traveling pod.

Obstacles Appear to Extending GPS-Based ADS-B for UAV Operations

Inside GNSS published a comprehensive article that looks at issues and possible solutions for using the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system on unmanned aircraft. The FAA has mandated installation of the ADS-B system in manned aircraft by 2020.

Obstacles to using ADS-B on UAVs include: cost, weight, and large numbers of drone flights. Also, many areas in the U.S. do not have ADS-B coverage below 500 feet.

Harris Corporation, the FAA’s prime contractor for ADS-B, announced ADS-B Xtend, a dual-band receiver and relay system that can be installed in areas without close-to-the-ground ADS-B capabilities. It provides UAV operators with aircraft tracking data, maps, and weather information.

Harris is partnering with PrecisionHawk to include information from the Low Altitude Tracking and Avoidance System or LATAS, which uses cellular networks. The Xtend ground receivers have a 150-mile range, and they can be attached to existing structures or even to mobile vehicles for roaming coverage.

Drone dollar sales for the past 12 months were three times higher than sales from prior year

Top selling drone brandsRetail research firm The NPD Group released a report that says for the twelve months ending in April, drone sales have grown 224 percent year-over-year to nearly $200 million.

Drones with 4K cameras accounted for more than one-third of dollar sales, and drones with built-in GPS accounted for 64 percent of revenue. Drones with an average price greater than $500 accounted for 56 percent of dollar sales and drones sold during the 2015 holiday season increased 445 percent from the prior year.

Privacy fears: Panel has advice for drone operators

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has released the 8-page Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability. [PDF] The best practices are directed to both commercial and non-commercial drone users.

The document describes voluntary best practices, many relating to the collection of “Covered Data,” or information collected by a UAS that identifies a particular person. Due to First Amendment issues, the guidelines do not apply to newsgathering and news reporting organizations. The appendix lists eight guidelines for “Neighborly Drone Use.”

Video of the Week

Drone Roof Inspection

In this video, listener Ken Krantz uses a drone to inspect his solar panels and pool heating apparatus, with a little humor thrown in. The inspection actually revealed a broken item in need of repair. Ken tells us, “I should point out that, before this flight, I called my local tower and filled out a DROTAM that included the time of my flight, the max altitude (I specified 150’) and a number I could be reached at should they need to retract the DROTAM permission. AND, of course, I have an FAA UAS registration number affixed to the craft.”

Mentioned

UAV Propulsion Tech is a sponsor of The UAV Digest, and President Bob Schmidt has created a LinkedIn group called UAV Tech, “a networking group for technical people in the unmanned aerial vehicle industry. It will focus on advanced technology for UAV’s like: propulsion, payloads, servos, autopilots, sense/avoid, launch/recovery, generators, parachutes, airframes, materials, applications, and testing.” Group membership is by request.

New drone racing sport taking off in Utah

Patrick sent us this article that describes how a man who bought a toy quadcopter for his son ended up designing custom drones and became involved with Drones, Etc., an online business founded in early 2013 by two professional aerial enthusiasts.

 

 

 

 

UAV147 Drones That Perch on Walls

The FAA tests a drone detection system at JFK and releases registration data, drone-on-drone refueling demonstrated, a drone that can perch on walls, a new UAS risk management course, and a review of a guide to drones.

Stanford Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory

Rotorcraft perching, recovery, and takeoff

News

FAA Tests FBI Drone Detection System at JFK

The FAA conducted tests of the effectiveness of an FBI UAS detection system at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York. Five different rotorcraft and fixed wing UAS participated in about 40 separate tests. Also involved in the tests were the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice, Queens District Attorney’s Office, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Griffiss International Airport test site in Rome, NY, provided expertise in planning the individual tests as well as the flight commander for the tests and two of the UAS used.

FAA Releases Drone Registration Location Data

In response to a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the FAA released a spreadsheet showing the number of UAS registrations by country, state/province/region, city, and postal code. Almost 40,000 entries for “Hobbyist” registrations, and nearly 5,000 “Non-Hobbyist” registrations. Names and addresses of registrants are not part of this database, and will only be made available by registration number.

Heatmap of hobbyist UAS registrations, courtesy AirMap

Heatmap of hobbyist UAS registrations

Heatmap of non-hobbyist UAS registrations, courtesy AirMap

Heatmap of non-hobbyist UAS registrations

We’d like to thank Airmap.com for providing the heat maps. Find the AirMap for Drones app in the iTunes store and use it to access low-altitude airspace advisories, create flights, file digital notices, manage aircraft, and more.

Now drones can go on and on: Unmanned aircraft refuel autonomously in MID-AIR, meaning they can carry out longer missions

Chinese researchers have developed a method of autonomous aerial refueling where the “tanker” uses cameras to determine the position of the “receiver.” The tanker then flies to the receiving drone and refuels it through a boom.

Microspines Make It Easy for Drones to Perch on Walls and Ceilings

Quadrotors have limited flight duration, so the ability to “perch” or land for extended periods of time would be beneficial, particularly for applications where the operator wants to collect data over time. Stanford’s Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory has been working on perching technology that would allow a small drone to land on a wall using an opposing gripping system.

Video of the Week

The Flying Scotsman crossing the Forth Bridge 15.5.16 Filmed by drone!

Peter Keith captured the Flying Scotsman crossing the Forth Bridge after a 10-year restoration project. Shot using a DJI Inspire 1 X5r Drone.

Mentioned

Online Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems Risk Management

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announces a new 8-week on-line course which discusses risk management as it relates to UAS, and also covers international efforts at addressing that risk. Taught by Dr. Sarah Nillson, our guest on Episode 111.

The Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display

Join David and Max June 18, 2016, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia for a day of full immersion in both manned and unmanned aviation.

Book Review

The Complete Guide to Drones: whatever your budget

David reviews this 144 page paperback by Adam Juniper and finds it to be a valuable resource. Author Juniper is a long-time R/C and drone flier, has produced many YouTube videos, and he has worked as a professional video producer.

 

 

UAV146 The FAA Creates, Permits, and Rescinds

The FAA created an advisory committee, permits educational institutions to fly UAS, and rescinded a proposed website for collecting reports of bad drone behaviour. UPS and Zipline partner for drone delivery of medical packages, and more interviews from the Drone Dealer Expo.

Zipline International

Zipline International medical package delivery drone

News

FAA Administrator Makes Major Drone Announcements

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta made two significant announcements at the AUVSI annual conference in New Orleans. Another advisory committee is being formed to provide advice on unmanned aircraft integration issues. Huerta said, “Input from stakeholders is critical to our ability to achieve that perfect balance between integration and safety. We know that our policies and overall regulation of this segment of aviation will be more successful if we have the backing of a strong, diverse coalition.”

Huerta also announced that students can operate UAS for educational and research purposes without going through the Section 333 process. This allows educational institutions to conduct activities that have been restricted in the past.

UPS-backed Rwandan blood deliveries show drones’ promise, hurdles

The UPS Foundation announced a partnership with Zipline, a California­-based robotics company, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to “explore using drones to transform the way life-saving medicines like blood and vaccines are delivered across the world.” The UPS Foundation has awarded an $800,000 grant to support the initial launch of this initiative in Rwanda using Zipline fixed-wing drones.

Zipline International, Inc. is a robotics company that works with governments to provide access to medical products at the last mile. Zipline is supported by investors such as Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, SV Angel, Subtraction Capital, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Stanford University.

UPDATE: FAA Withdraws Request for Drone Reports Dubbed Witchhunt By Many

Congress has directed the FAA to “assess the flight behavior of [drones] and enable the reporting of [drone] sightings that cause public concern for safety, national security, and/or privacy.” In response, the FAA planned to launch a website to collect “airborne and ground based observations by the public of drone behavior that they consider suspicious or illegal.”

Now, however, the FAA has withdrawn the plan [PDF], citing that the proposal “contained errors, and needs further clarification.”

Drone Dealer Expo Interviews

More interviews by Tim Trott of Southern Helicam from the Expo:

David Alamillo, Chief Pilot and Flight Operations Manager, Farm Solutions, which manages sensor output for agricultural applications, and integrates with drone manufacturers

Mark Manson, Consumer Experience Lead for Academy of Model Aeronautics

Videos of the Week

Max and @dronemama Fly Away Dronie

This “fly away dronie” of Max Flight and @dronemama was taken by Hover Solutions, LLC at the 2016 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival at the Howard County Fairgrounds, West Friendship, Maryland. Hover Solutions was at the Festival with their DJI Inspire 1 to film the festival for the organizers.

Hover Solutions provides aerial photography and video for clients, UAV education, and industrial applications such as orthomosaic mapping and multisensor scanning services, including 3D modeling and NDVI overlays.

Hover Solutions will be exhibiting at the 2016 Howard County Fair, August 6-13, 2016, at the Howard County Fairground in West Friendship, Maryland. They’ll have a booth next to the main building. Stop by and say hello!

Clash of epochs: Drone speared at history festival in central Russia

A drone that was filming a historical reenactment in Russia was taken down by a spear thrown by a man dressed as an ancient Russian warrior. How often do you see that?

UAV145 The Autonomy Incubator with Dr. Danette Allen

Dr. Danette Allen from NASA Langley Research Center’s Autonomy Incubator describes projects that will advance autonomous technology for unmanned aircraft.

Guest

Dr. Danette AllenDr. Danette Allen is the NASA Senior Technologist for Intelligent Flight Control System and the Head of the Autonomy Incubator at NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC). She is responsible for setting the strategic vision, transforming the workforce, and building systems to realize the promise of autonomy and robotics in enabling new missions in space, aeronautics, and science. Dr. Allen provides subject matter expertise on several DoD autonomy programs including ONR AACUS, DARPA CODE, and DARPA ALIAS.

In this episode, Dr. Allen talks about the democratization of the airspace, and she explains the process by which NASA flies UAS at Langley, which is adjacent to active Air Force operations. Dr. Allen also describes an earth science delivery demonstration that is coming up. There, a payload sensor will be placed autonomously in a difficult-to-access location, where it can collect data. Later, the sensor is retrieved and returned to the scientist. Dr. Allen is also investigating an autonomous Mars explorer and the concept of “trusted autonomy.”

Prior to her current position, Dr. Allen served as the Research Team Lead for Human-System Integration (HSI) and ATM Concepts in Crew Systems and Aviation Operations. She also served as Mission Manager in the Earth Science Systems Pathfinder (ESSP) Program Office as well as Head of the Mission Simulation Lab (MiSL) and the Integrated Design Center.Autonomy Incubator logo

Dr. Allen began her NASA career in the design, development and operation of spaceflight missions including Lidar In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE) on STS-64, Measurement of Air Pollution from Satellites (MAPS) on Mir, and Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III on ISS. Dr. Allen received her Bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University, MBA from Manchester University (UK), Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering from Old Dominion University, and her Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Computer Science from UNC Chapel Hill. She is the recipient of several NASA awards including the NASA astronauts’ “Silver Snoopy” award for achievements related to human flight safety and mission success as well as the NASA “Systems Engineering Excellence Award” medal.

Follow Dr. Allen on Twitter @DrDanetteAllen

UAV144 UAS Traffic Management (UTM) Research Platform

A milestone for the UTM research platform, controlling drones with brain waves, FAA approval for night flying, rules for sUAS get one step closer, more from the Drone Dealer Expo, and a Flirtey goes into the Smithsonian.

Flirtey founder and CEO Matthew Sweeny

Flirtey founder and CEO Matthew Sweeny

News

NASA Marks Success for Most Complex Drone Traffic Management Test Yet at FAA Test Sites

A three-hour field test of NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research platform included 24 drones flying in all six FAA UAS test sites. Operators planned operations, entered flight plans,  and used a variety of aircraft and software. Up to 22 drones were operated simultaneously. The UTM research platform checked for conflicts, approved or rejected the flight plans, and notified users of constraints. This Technical Capability Level One test addressed rural UAS operations within line-of-sight.

University of Florida held the world’s first brain-controlled drone race

Sixteen pilots at the University of Florida used a brain-computer interface (BCI) to control DJI Phantoms down a 10-yard course. Each pilot was calibrated with electroencephalogram headsets measuring neuron activity, which was then bound to the controller for flight.

Nocturnal UAV ops approved

Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance has become the first commercial drone operator to be granted approval by the FAA to conduct UAV operations at night. Tremco plans to inspect buildings at night for energy leaks, rooftop damage, deteriorating façades, safety issues, etc. In partnership with Toronto-based Industrial SkyWorks, they’ve developed the SkyBEAM (Building Envelope Aerial Mapping) UAV using an Aeryon Skyranger quadcopter with HD video and infrared cameras.

Big News: Small UAS Rule at OIRA for Final Review

Law firm Hogan Lovells reports that “the FAA has sent the Small UAS NPRM to the White House for a final interagency review.” The Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) rule must go through a review process at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the White House. OIRA received the FAA’s Small UAS rule on April 20, 2016. Their review period averages 53 days.

Interview with Drone Nerds from Drone Dealer Expo

Continuing with Tim Trott’s interviews recorded at Drone Dealer Expo, we bring you his conversation with Lance Knowles from Drone Nerds, Incorporated, a distributor for brands like DJI and Monster X heavylift craft for commercial applications. Tim and Lance talk about the impact of regulations, the responsibilities of drone manufacturers and dealers, knowledge exams and check rides for drone operators, and measuring commercial drone operator proficiency.

Mentioned

The Flirtey drone used to make the first FAA-approved delivery in the U.S. has been accepted into the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display on Saturday, June 18, 2016, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. See recreational and home-built aircraft as well as classic automobiles. Enjoy presentations, demonstrations, special tours, and hands-on activities for all ages.

 

UAV143 Drone Dealer Expo 2016 – Part 2

An interview by Tim Trott with drone lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht at Drone Dealer Expo 2016.

Jonathan RupprechtWe continue our coverage of Drone Dealer Expo 2016 with an insightful conversation that Tim Trott recorded with Jonathan Rupprecht from Rupprecht Law.

Jonathan notes that the industry will become more regulated and comments on the responsibilities of drone manufacturers and retailers. He also has a very interesting and sobering take on the many organizations that represent the unmanned industry: their objectives, focus on constituencies, power, and approach to dealing with the FAA.

Jonathan comments on regulations that are coming in the future, such as the “micro UAV” rule recommendations, FAA reauthorization, Part 107 changes, and even Part 48 drone registration as a result of the lawsuit. We also hear his thoughts on the “cowboy operators” and the risks they pose.

Tim Trott, from Southern Helicam, is an instructor and the author of UAS Operations: Preparing to meet the anticipated FAA knowledge test requirements for UAS Operator and/or Pilot UAS Rating and The Droner’s Guide: From Beginner to Professional . In the future, we’ll bring you Tim’s interviews with a number the exhibitors at the Expo.

Video of the Week

Watch DARPA’s bizarre 24-motor drone aircraft fly for the first time

The Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrike aircraft is intended to be a pilotless VTOL aircraft that can carry several thousand pounds of cargo and achieve a 400-knot cruise speed. A one-fifth-scale model has achieved its first flight.

UAV142 Drone Dealer Expo 2016 – Part 1

Observations from the Drone Dealer Expo, hydrogen fueled drones, a drone rescue patent, and proposed federal preemption of UAS laws.

Guest

Mike DanielsMike Daniels says he has been designing, building and flying model aircraft since the 1970s. He’s flown free flight, control line, and RC airplanes, helicopters, and multi-rotors. Mike built an F550 with parts he designed and printed, and he’s currently flying a Yuneec Typhoon Q500 and an Ares Ethos Q130. His new Typhoon H should arrive at any moment.

Mike holds an FAA pilot’s certificate to fly single engine land and sea planes, and an FAA repairman certificate for Light Sport Airplanes with a Maintenance Rating.

Mike shares his experiences by blogging at blog.mikeflys.com, and he’s created an online e-paper called  “The UAV Daily.” He’s also starting a drone store at www.mikeflys.com where he’ll only sell products he knows and likes. Follow Mike on Twitter as @Mike_Flys.

Drone Dealer Expo 2016

Mike gives us his observations from the Drone Dealer Expo he attended April 11-13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Mike characterizes the attendees and describes some of the event themes.

A drone racing expo was held in the parking lot to demo FPV racing, and there was talk about ESPN broadcasting races. The subsequent press story With ESPN deal, drone racing gets serious confirms that ESPN has signed a multi-year deal to broadcast drone races.

We talk with Mike about the theory that the timing of the FAA UAS registration requirement may have depressed holiday drone sales. We also learn that a panel discussion led to a lively discussion about UAS regulations. There was a consensus belief that a future drone operator’s certificate will require an in-person written test, not an online test.

News

MMC’s Hydrogen-fueled Drone, the HyDrone 1800, Leads the Way into a New UAV Era

MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology Co., Inc. (MMC) launched their HyDrone 1800, a hydrogen-fueled drone with a claimed flight time in excess of four hours, a one-minute recharge cycle, and a flight radius of up to 100km with a live video stream.

Google Has Patented a Drone Rescue Service

Google’s concept is that users could push a button instead of calling 911 and get the help they need, delivered by a self-flying drone.

Lawmakers seek to ensure FAA bill won’t preempt local drone laws

Senate debates contentious provision against state drone laws

Some members of the US Senate are adding amendments to the FAA reauthorization bill that would create a federal preemption for state or local laws related to the design, manufacture, testing, licensing, registration, certification, operation, or maintenance of UAS. Local governments could not regulate airspace, altitude, flight paths, equipment or technology requirements, and pilot requirements.

Video of the Week

Killerdrone! Flying chainsaw

Crazy Finnish farmers built an epic drone with a remote controlled chainsaw.

Mentioned

Facebook will now let any camera stream to Facebook Live, even a DJI drone: Post to your wall, but from the air

UAV141 A New Drone Alliance

The Drone Manufacturers AllianceThe Drone Manufacturers Alliance is formed, a Digital Notice and Awareness System for airports starts, the Micro UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee report is published, a satellite navigation system competition begins, and a new facial-recognition drone is available.

News

Drone coalition splits as DJI, GoPro faction quits

The Small UAV Coalition was formed to advocate “for law and policy changes to permit the operation of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) beyond the line-of-sight, with varying degrees of autonomy, for commercial, consumer, recreational and philanthropic purposes.”

Now DJI, GoPro, 3DR, and Parrot have left the Coalition to form The Drone Manufacturers Alliance to focus on small drone and consumer issues. The Alliance hasn’t yet developed official policy statements, but they do say they the Alliance “… will serve as the voice for drone manufacturers and our customers across civilian, governmental, recreational, commercial, nonprofit and public safety applications. We will advocate for policies that promote innovation and safety, and create a practical and responsible regulatory framework.”

Furthermore, “The Drone Manufacturers Alliance believes a carefully balanced regulatory framework requires input from all stakeholders and must recognize the value and necessity of continued technological innovation. By highlighting innovation and emphasizing education, we intend to work with policymakers to ensure drones continue to be safely integrated into the national airspace.”

AirMap and AAAE Launch UAS Notice System

AirMap and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) have released the Digital Notice and Awareness System (D-NAS), designed to allow airport operators to be aware of drone flights in the area. D-NAS lets UAS operators transmit encrypted digital flight notices through a mobile device app to the airport’s operations center. The “flight plan” shows up on an airport computer with the planned location of the flight, radius, height, and duration.

The AP has learned a government-sponsored panel is backing standards that could allow commercial drones

The Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (the “ARC”) has delivered its report on proposed rules for flying over populated areas. The stated objective of the ARC was “to consider recommendations for a performance-based standard that would allow for micro UAS to be operated over people who are not directly participating in the operation of the UAS or under a covered structure,” which would ultimately contribute to an enforceable rule imposed by the FAA.

The Committee report Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC):  ARC Recommendations Final Report, [PDF] proposes to divide small UAS into four categories:

Under Category 1, a small UAS may operate over people if the weight (including accessories/payload, e.g., cameras) is 250 grams or less. The ARC believes that the level of risk of injury posed by this category of UAS is so low that no performance standards and no operational restrictions beyond those imposed by the proposed part 107 are necessary.

Under Categories 2, 3, and 4, a small UAS may operate over people if it does not exceed the impact energy threshold specified for each category, as certified by the manufacturer using industry consensus test methods, and if its operator complies with operational restrictions specified for each category. Because the level of risk increases between Categories 2, 3, and 4, the performance-based standards and operational restrictions are scaled-up in each category to mitigate the increased risks.

Category 2 applies to the larger multirotor UAS that are common for recreational and commercial drones. The UAS may operate over people if the manufacturer certifies to the FAA that the UAS does not, in the most probable failure modes, exceed the typical or likely impact energy threshold, and if it complies with industry consensus performance standards. The operator must also comply with the operator instruction manual, must maintain minimum set-off distances of 20 feet above people’s heads, or 10 feet laterally away from people, and may not operate so close to people as to create an undue hazard to those people.

Category 3 applies to UAS in commercial applications where the small number of people over which it might fly are all part of the commercial activity. The operation must be conducted over a closed or restricted-access work site with the permission of the site’s owner or operator. Overflight of people is limited to those who are transient or incidental to the operation.

Category 4 applies to small UAS that may operate over people, including flights over crowds or dense concentrations of people not included in Category 3. The manufacturer of the UAS must certify that the UAS does not, in the most probable failure modes, exceed the typical or likely impact energy threshold, and the UAS must comply with industry consensus performance standards. Significantly, the operation must be conducted in compliance with a documented, risk mitigation plan, which was developed and adopted in accordance with industry consensus standards for conducting risk mitigation.

For commercial operations, the Air Line Pilots Association and helicopter and crop dusting industry representatives wanted an aviation knowledge test administered by the FAA and a background check from the TSA. However, most Committee members wanted only an online knowledge test.

European Satellite Navigation Competition – Awarding Galileo Enabled Applications

The European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) is said to be the largest international competition for the commercial use of satellite navigation. Thorsten Rudolph, the CEO of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen and initiator of the competition said, “We believe civilian drones have enormous potential in connection with the ESNC. We want to focus even more on the topic this year to promote the foundation of more visionary companies in the surrounding future market.”

The submission phase for services, products, and business innovations runs from 1 April to 30 June 2016. Visit the European Satellite Navigation Competition website for more information.

Facial recognition drone gives your selfie stick wings

People are obsessed with selfies these days. “Dronies” are the next technological step, and now we have the $349 ROAM-e drone from IoT Group that uses facial recognition technology to take self-portraits. The ROAM-e will follow you in the air for up to 20 minutes, fly within 25m of you, and always stay in constant view.

Images of the Week

Aerial views of fairy tale castles from around the world

Images of restored ancient fortresses as captured by drones.

Mentioned

CASA develops new regulations for drone operation

What the SUAS Industry Really Thinks about U.S. Drone Regulations

A five-minute survey for drone pilots.

UAV140 Package Delivery by Drone Takes Another Step Forward

Flirtey package delivery droneAn autonomous package delivery drone, blanket COA altitude limit raised, FAA forecasts UAS sales, in U.S., states eye drone applications, NASA and AFRL developing a fully autonomous UAS, JPL applies Mars sensor technology to earth-bound drone, and the Pentagon will pair manned and unmanned jets.

News

First US autonomous, urban drone delivery in Nevada

Flirtey package delivery droneIn Episode 59 we reported that Flirtey was conducting package delivery tests in Australia. Flirtey now says they have successfully completed the first fully autonomous, FAA-approved, urban drone delivery in the United States, in an uninhabited residential setting in Hawthorne, Nevada.

The company successfully used a drone to deliver a package that included bottled water, emergency food, and a first aid kit. The six-rotor drone flew itself along a predetermined delivery route and lowered the package at a precise drop-off location. A Flirtey pilot and several visual observers were on standby during the delivery as a backup to the autonomous system but were never needed.

This test was completed through a partnership with the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. Both partners are also working with NASA to develop a low-altitude air traffic management system. Additionally, Flirtey has partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site.

FAA Doubles “Blanket” Altitude for Many UAS Flights

After conducting a risk analysis, the FAA has decided to raise the blanket altitude authorization for Section 333 exemption holders and government aircraft operators. Previously, the nationwide Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) limited such flights to 200 feet. The new COA policy [PDF] allows commercial use to 400 feet anywhere in the country, other than in restricted airspace or where the FAA prohibits UAS operations.

Rupprecht Law’s In-Depth Analysis of the New 400ft Blanket COA for Commercial Drone Operators

Attorney Jonathan Rupprecht describes how the original blanket authorization was written to avoid a COA choke-point. However, many radio towers are between 200 and 400 feet tall, and each of these towers needed a new, 400 foot site-specific COA. This bogged down the system tremendously.

The FAA estimates that the new blanket COA will lessen the need for individual COAs by 30 to 40 percent. The blanket COA also addresses the inconsistency where recreational drone operators can fly up to 400 feet while commercial operators were restricted to 200 feet unless they obtained another COA.

Other changes to the blanket COA include see-and-avoid requirements, reporting involving certain accidents/mishaps involving UAS operations, ATC special provisions, and flight planning.

The Future of Commercial Drone Use

The latest FAA forecast shows hobbyist and commercial UAS unit sales growing from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020. Hobbyist purchases were 1.9 million in 2016 and the forecast is 4.3 million by 2020. Commercial sales were 600,000 in 2016 and could grow to 2.7 million by 2020.

The FAA forecast for the top five commercial drone markets:

  • Industrial Inspection: 42%
  • Real Estate/Aerial Photography: 22%
  • Agriculture: 19%
  • Insurance 15%
  • Government 2%

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to receive $1M in state funding for drone program

State funding for a drone pilot program at the Palm Beach Florida County Sheriff’s Office should allow them to use unmanned aircraft for “search and rescue, disaster assessment and assistance, interdiction of drug and human-trafficking activities, and situational awareness of a person whose life is in imminent danger.”

Michigan testing drones for bridge inspections

A survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials shows that 33 states have studied or used drones, develop drone policies, or aided in drone research.

Michigan transportation officials are considering assessing bridge decks, traffic monitoring, inspecting confined spaces, and will conduct a two-year study. Minnesota tested a drone to help conduct safety inspections of bridges. Vermont is studying the use of drones to monitor river flooding and assist with road work. Massachusetts has been looking at the pros and cons of drone use.

NASA’s Traveler To Demo ‘Trustworthy’ UAS Autonomy

FireFLY6NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) hope to demonstrate the Traveler UAS that can autonomously plan, launch, navigate, and refuel itself. The FAA supports the idea and will use data from the program to help set future standards for UAS operations. A Traveler project demonstration flight outside of restricted airspace is planned for later in 2016. An autonomous mission without a safety pilot could take place in 2017. The demonstrations will use a modified BirdsEyeView Aerobotics FireFLY6 VTOL UAV, named “Elissa.”

Mini NASA Methane Sensor Makes Successful Flight Test

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has successfully flight-tested a miniature, highly sensitive methane gas sensor onboard a small quadcopter. With application for pipeline inspection, the sensor is similar to the one JPL developed for use on Mars.

Pentagon touts “Loyal Wingman” for combat jets

Deputy defense secretary Robert Work says that the air force will pair unmanned F-16s with F-35s in future battles. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is developing the autonomy algorithms needed to control the unmanned fighter jets. These algorithms would be hosted in line-replaceable units and thus, could easily be transferred between aircraft.

Video of the Week

Beachy Head in 4k by drone

Filmed at an area called Beachy Head, in Sussex, on the south coast of England. This scenic area is very similar to the white cliffs of Dover.

Mentioned

Robotics: Aerial Robotics, University of Pennsylvania

An aerial robotics course offered through Coursera. It focuses on the flight dynamics and controls for quadcopters. Enrollment is free.

UAV Propulsion Tech Representing DST Controls to Market their Gyro-Stabilized EO/IR Systems and Thermal Imagers in the US and Canada

UAV Propulsion Tech has signed a reseller agreement with DST Control to market their lightweight, high performance gyro-stabilized electro-optical systems, and small, lightweight thermal imagers into the US unmanned vehicle and manned aircraft markets. UAV Propulsion Tech is a U.S. company that markets German, Canadian, Australian and now also Swedish technology into the North American UAV market. This includes propulsion, autopilot, servo/actuator, and rescue/recovery parachute solutions.

UAV Operations: Preparing to meet the anticipated FAA knowledge test requirements for UAS Operator and/or Pilot UAS Rating (14CFR§107)

Tim Trott has written an e-book study manual in anticipation of the written test requirement for UAV operators that is included in current FAA authorization legislation. The book includes all 11 of the areas listed in the NPRM/14 CFR107 and a 50 question practice test with answer key. This material can provide preparation for the FAA test that may be coming.

New Online Registration for Commercial UAVs

Tim also tells us that as of March 31, 2016, there is a checkbox for commercial registration at registermyuas.faa.gov. Once the process is completed, a certificate number is assigned, and a certificate of registration issued for each UAS registered with the company. The new online system provides a certificate ID number instead of an N number. Those who want an N number must use the paper process.

UAV139 Too Many Drone Parts and Not Enough Drone Pilots

The Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System — or CRACUNSAn online “junk yard” for UAVs and components, the drone pilot shortage, a UAS detect and avoid display project, UAV airspace integration in the UK, the US Senate version of FAA reauthorization, egg drop drones, LiPo batteries, and the CRACUNS submersible drone.

News

This Online ‘Drone Junk Yard’ Lets UAV Owners Swap and Exchange Parts

UK Drone builder Andrew Spaxman founded Drone Junk Yard in January 2015 as a place where enthusiasts could buy, swap, and sell unwanted UAV parts. Starting with a closed, country-specific Facebook group for the UK, Spaxman has expanded to groups for the United States, the EU, Canada, and Australia.

UAV pilot training struggles continue

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Further Actions Needed to Fully Address Air Force and Army Pilot Workforce Challenges [PDF]. In it, the GAO says the USAF and US Army haven’t implemented all the recommendations made in its 2014 report. These particularly relate to the shortage of pilot instructors and pilots.

FAA hand picks Horsham pilots to help refine UAS detection display

The FAA wants to develop a UAS detect and avoid display for unmanned aircraft systems at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Eight pilot volunteers have been selected from the 111th Attack Wing for the project.

FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute research psychologist Kevin Williams said,”Our task in this study is to look at the displays used to provide the pilot with the information that is required for them to remain well clear of other aircraft. Basically, what we’re talking about is the minimum information requirements for those displays.”

UK calls for realistic approach to UAV integration

The UK wants to permit beyond line of sight UAV operations at all altitudes by 2020, but the Department for Transport (DfT) wants to be sure that regulations are robust and realistic. Paul Cremin, head of UK aviation operational safety and emerging technologies at the DfT said, “This is a disruptive technology changing the way we think about aviation, but we have to be realistic about safety and security.”

In conversations with the public, the dFt found that there is faith in state-controlled UAVs, confidence in most commercial operators, and concern about drone hobbyists. The public expects registration, geo-fencing, age restrictions on use, mandatory insurance, and licensing of retailers.

A full report on the dialogue with the public is to be issued in April, followed by public consultation in June, leading to a UK government strategy on permitting operations later this decade.

Senate bill calls for certification of unmanned aircraft

The U.S Senate version of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 would establish a kind of “type certification” for UAVs, requiring all small UAS to meet design and production standards within one year. Manufacturers would have to certify compliance. Random production samples would be tested, and manufacturers would provide a sample of the UAV to the FAA for review.

The Senate version also calls for:

  • An “aeronautical knowledge and safety test” for operators (including model aircraft pilots). Exempted would be aircraft under .55 pounds, and pilots under 13 years of age who fly under the supervision of an adult who has passed the test.
  • FAA to create within 2 years a new operating certificate for unmanned aircraft package delivery operators.
  • Nine months for the FAA to establish a rule for micro UAS (under two kilograms, or 4.4 pounds) with no pilot’s certificate requirement
  • Nine months to develop standards for UAS operations by institutions of “higher education.” If the FAA misses the deadline, the institutions can operate as model aircraft.

Drones to drop Easter eggs on Cherry Hill

The Impacting Your World Christian Center plans to host Egg Drone Drop events for kids in Cherry Hill and Philadelphia. Thousands of candy-filled eggs will fall from FlexRight Solutions drones.

Video of the Week

Flying demo highlights commercial potential of drones in Wales

In March 2016 at Wales’s Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, a weeklong event was hosted by QinetiQ in partnership with the Welsh Government and Snowdonia Aerospace LLP. They demonstrated how drones could help tackle environmental issues and other commercial challenges. The demonstration consisted of two scenarios; one exploring the use of drones in fisheries protection, and the other in managing the threat to the Welsh coast from erosion and flooding.

Mentioned

New UAV Can Launch from Underwater for Aerial Missions

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, have developed the Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System — or CRACUNS.

LiPo Battery Videos

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