UAV057 PrecisionHawk

PrecisionHawk Lancaster PlatformGuest Dr. Ernest Earon is President and Co-founder of PrecisionHawk. Their Lancaster Platform is designed around the goals of ease of use and autonomous collection of high resolution aerial data.

Much of the focus is on agricultural applications, but their platform, and data collection and analysis methodology is applicable to a variety of industries.

The NUAIR Alliance, one of the six FAA UAS Test Sites, has a COA for the PrecisionHawk and we talk with Dr. Earon about that program. Also, we discuss the UAV industry in general, operating in an environment of regulatory uncertainty, and prospects for the future.

The PrecisionHawk UAV & Data Software video presents an overview of the PrecisionHawk company and the capabilities of the Lancaster Platform.

 

Dr.EaronDr. Earon earned his doctorate from the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies in 2004, and has over 10 years experience in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles and intelligent, autonomous vehicle control. He has led development teams for the Canadian Space Agency, Quanser, and Defense R&D Canada

His work has had an emphasis on unique unmanned aircraft. Dr. Earon led the design, development and implementation of the sensor package and vehicle control for intelligent lunar robots. Other programs include the development of a novel aircraft design now a commercial product, and the development of coordinated heterogeneous teams of unmanned aircraft and ground vehicles, leading to an autonomous UAV flight mission demonstration for Defence R & D Canada.

 

UAV056 When is an Aircraft not an Aircraft?

19XRW-Hoverwing

The FAA definition of an aircraft, drones and agriculture, UAV privacy issues, FAA solicits a UAS Center of Excellence, Amazon Prime Air, X-47B milestone, drone legislation, and a successful UAV company despite regulatory uncertainty.

News

FAA Thinks Two Pound Drones Aircraft. But 1100 Pound, Manned and Flying Craft?  Unsure.

The FAA’s June interpretive rule treats model airplanes as aircraft. But what about other devices that fly – like the Flying Hovercraft that Hammacher Schlemmer sells for $190,000? Are those aircraft too?

With integrated wings and a 130-hp gasoline engine driving a 60″ wood/carbon composite thrust propeller, this hovercraft manufactured by Universal Hovercraft as the 19XRW-Hoverwing, can fly up to 70 mph over obstacles up to 20 feet high.

When asked about the status of wing in ground effect machines, the FAA replied that they haven’t made any determination because they have not received any applications for certification.

Commercial drone dealers take farming to new heights

Tellus Agronomics AgriEye drone

Tellus Agronomics AgriEye drone

The University of Maryland Extension and Wye Research Center understands that technology plays key role in the future of precision agriculture. So they brought together local farmers, agricultural educators, and representatives from farming technology tool companies. Perhaps not surprisingly, UAVs were a prominent part of the event.

Virginia-based consulting company Tellus Agronomics demonstrated their AgriEye Drone, a quadcopter for agronomists that features autonomous flight, live video feed, aerial mapping simulator, and RC simulator pre-flight training.

Helicopter Ag Pilot Harassed by UAV in Illinois

The National Agricultural Aviation Association reports that an ag helicopter was buzzed by a fixed wing “UAV” that caused the pilot some distress. The pilot notified the FAA FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) who called local police, and they are seeking to prosecute the owner of the “UAV.” Only it was not a UAV, it was an Extra 300 aerobatic R/C plane.

President Barack Obama to issue executive order on drone privacy

Last month, President Barack Obama announced that he would be signing an executive order placing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in charge of developing voluntary privacy best practices for unmanned aerial vehicles. We haven’t seen an executive order on this yet.

FAA Solicits Center of Excellence for UAS Applicants

The Federal Aviation Administration released a solicitation for a new FAA Center of Excellence (COE) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. This COE was mandated by Congress under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. This “COE will be tasked with identifying current and future issues critical to safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace.”

The COE will study: detect-and-avoid technology, control and communications, low-altitude operations safety, compatibility with air traffic control operations, and training and certification of UAS pilots and other crew members. The deadline for submission of proposals is September 15th.

Amazon Will Test Drone Delivery System in India

Amazon is reported to begin testing of Amazon Prime Air in Mumbai and Bangalore, India, possibly as soon as late this year. Why India? Because commercial drone use in India does not need a permit from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Video: The Navy’s X-47B drone reaches a new milestone

Testing of the U.S. Navy X-47B continues, and recently it was launched from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, as was an F/A-18E Super Hornet. Carrier-based unmanned and manned aircraft had not previously flown together. The end game for the Navy is the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike aircraft (UCLASS).

Drone manufacturer grows amid uncertain market

DSLRPros in Oakland Park, California manufactures and sells drones and equipment for professional unmanned aerial filmmaking. The company started in 2012, and annual revenue is now $10 million, mostly from fire departments and farmers.

YouTube video shows drone buzzing Vancouver apartment

An apartment building resident observed some kind of drone flying outside the building for an estimated 30 minutes moving from apartment to apartment. It then hovered just feet from his window. The Vancouver Police Department says they received 10 complaints about drones since May. So far, nobody has been charged.

Legislature mulls curbs on use of aerial drones by paparazzi

Paparazzi routinely harass celebrities and invade their privacy. Camera-equipped drones are the perfect high-tech tool for extending the reach of the paparazzi. The Paparazzi Reform Initiative is trying to do something about this situation and there is a proposal pending in the California Legislature that “would prohibit the use of aerial drones to collect video, photos and audio from celebrities and others in a way that violates their privacy rights.”

Video of the Week

Satsop Nuclear Reactor

Braden Roseborough captured stunning video of this never finished, abandoned nuclear reactor. It got a small feature on mashable.com: A Haunting Drone’s Eye View of an Abandoned Nuclear Plant

Mentioned

ADS-B/In for UAV Pilots for $3? Low Power Low Altitude ADS-B/Out?

Tim Trott explains what we need to do to bring ADS-B to sUAS.

Dr. Missy Cummings on Tech and Privacy

Mark sent in this C-Span video with some of Dr. Cummings testimony before the U.S. Congress from January 2014. She weighs in on technological illiteracy in the US, particularly in the government, and how it will be very important for our future to confront this issue.

 

UAV055 The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership Gears Up

Estes Proto X Nano Electric Quadcopter

UAS test sites update: Virginia gets FAA COA’s, Maryland starting, New Jersey delayed, Nevada moving slowly. Also, hobby UAV’s you can buy, UAS in the Netherlands, and a possible drone near miss.

News

The Drone You Should Buy Right Now

The Verge offers up their top five recommended hobby drones. These range across the spectrum in size, price, and capability.

FAA Announces Virginia Tech UAS Test Site Now Operational

The FAA granted Virginia Polytechnic Institute seven Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) for two-years. This is the last of the six FAA UAS test sites now operational.

Virginia Tech has the lead for the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP), which has members from academia, the government, industry, economic development agencies, and non-profit organizations in Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland.

The UAVs covered under the COAs are: Smart Road Flyer, eSPAARO (the electric Small Platform for Autonomous Aerial Research Operations), Aeryon Sky Ranger, MANTRA 2, Sig Rascal, and two AVID EDF-8 micro UAVs.

University of Maryland Opens UAS test site

The University of Maryland (another member of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership) has launched its unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site based in St. Mary’s County, close to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aviation Division at Patuxent River and the Naval Air Systems Command headquarters. This site is intended to be a hub for UAS technology and policy issues for the University System of Maryland, as well as government and industry.

Drone testing delayed to protect migratory birds

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service postponed testing at another MAAP member, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, until November. Two endangered migratory bird species there are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act as well as New Jersey law.

Nevada drone testing off to slow start

To date, only one company has completed testing at the Nevada UAS test site.  Conversations are underway with other interested companies, and the Site hopes to be financially self-sufficient by 2015. In the meantime, Nevada is looking at possible revenue from “indoor testing.”

Dutch drones miss out through tough rules

Dutch drone rules are stricter than in other European countries. It takes weeks to receive permission for test flights, and Dutch drone manufacturers fear they will be left behind. New rules are being considered by the Dutch government, but progress is slow.

UAS at the Beach

Much of the land in the Netherlands is below sea level. A series of breakwaters and dikes keep the land from flooding, but need to be monitored and maintained. Doing Inspections with a Microdrones MD4-1000 quadcopter, is a lower cost alternative to a manned aircraft.

Mini-UFO comes close to jetliner

An Air Canada Jazz pilot reported a near miss with a possible drone. The plane was still climbing at about 18,000 feet and spotted a “red and white vertical tube with rotor” less than 300 meters above the plane.

Video of the Week

Third Person Driving with a Drone

Can you drive a Mazda Miata while wearing video goggles linked to an overhead multi-copter equipped with a camera? Do not try this at home!

 

UAV054 NUAIR Gets an FAA COA

DJI S900 Hexacopter

NUAIR becomes the fifth FAA UAS test site to receive a COA, DJI introduces a new model, regulations in the EU and Singapore, North Dakota and Yellowstone in the news, businesses embrace UAVs in Charlotte, and how long until we see deliveries by drone.

News

NUAIR Cleared to Begin First Flights of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR Alliance) and Griffiss International Airport announced the receipt of their first Certificate of Authorization (COA) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). From the press release:

“The approval of this application clears the way to begin testing of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in New York under the FAA-designated Griffiss International Airport UAS Test Site… Before the first test flights can start, the NUAIR Alliance team will establish an independent safety review board to collect additional information and create a flight plan… Once that process is finished, the NUAIR Alliance-Griffiss team will coordinate a series of test flights on behalf of Cornell Cooperative Extension.”

“The COA allows Cornell Cooperative Extension to fly a UAS manufactured by PrecisionHawk below 400 feet over a farm in western New York. Currently, PrecisionHawk works with clients on a global scale across a variety of industries including agriculture, insurance, oil and gas. For this operation, the Lancaster Hawkeye Mk III, a small fixed-wing aircraft, will carry visual, thermal, multi-spectral and video sensors. These sensors will evaluate field crops like corn, soybeans and wheat, collecting data on conditions like crop growth, insect activity, disease spread, soil conditions and more. This information is critical to advancing the precision agricultural industry which is why this sector is expected to be an early adopter of civil and commercial UAS in the United States and is estimated to comprise 80 percent of the civil and commercial UAS market.”

DJI’s Newest Pro-Level UAV Puts Its Phantom Lineup to Shame

It gets all the press, but the Phantom isn’t the only multicopter that DJI makes. The Spreading Wings S900 Hexacopter is referred to by DJI as an “aerial system for the professional creator.”

House of Lords launches inquiry into civil use of drones

Like elsewhere, civilian use of UAVs in the EU is growing. So the same questions come up: issues of safety, controls that ensure privacy, and economic benefits. The Lords’ EU subcommittee on Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment has called for submissions to get expert written and oral evidence on this topic. They’ll be looking at standards for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) across the EU. The deadline for submitting evidence is September 19, 2014. The final report in expected March 2015.

How should UAVs be regulated? Experts weigh in

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is also considering UAV regulations for hobbyists and for commercial operations. There are existing rules for UAVs under the Singapore Air Navigation Order: no operation within five kilometers of an aerodrome, and maximum flight altitude of about 61 meters. But the CAAS wants to determine if additional requirements are needed.

Grand Forks AFB hosts first integrated UAV flight

On August 1, two MQ-9 Predator Bs were operated in close proximity in unrestricted airspace. This took place at the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, by the 319th Operations Support Squadron. They actually accomplished an additional milestone when a manned private aircraft asked to do a brief runway approach.

Drone crashes into famed hot spring at Yellowstone National Park

Visitors to U.S. National Parks continue to use UAVs to create videos at the Parks, despite the ban announced in June by the National Park Service. Several drone crashes have occurred at Yellowstone National Park, including one where a tourist crashed his camera-equipped multi-copter into the Grand Prismatic hot spring. A park spokesman said they didn’t know if the UAV would damage the 121 foot deep spring, and if they would have to remove it – if they could even find it.

Commercial drones are taking off in Charlotte area

Fearing that the competition might get the jump on them, some Charlotte, North Carolina businesses are using drones for real estate and other aerial footage. One company is operating four drones, and a video production company uses drones to film promotional videos and weddings. The Governor of North Carolina has said he’ll sign legislation for a state licensing system for commercial drones and operators.

Drone Expert: Drone Delivery Still 10 Years Away

Missy Cummings is an associate professor at MIT and Duke University, and is one of the professors who signed the letter to the FAA we talked about last episode. This former Navy fighter pilot wants to use drones for wildlife conservation research. She believes that because of “technical obstacles” such as battery life, security, and integration with air traffic control systems, drone delivery systems are about 10 years away.

Videos of the Week

World’s Largest Urban Zipline and Behind The Scenes – Urban Zipline! World’s Biggest!! from Eric. A 2000 foot zip line from a tower in Panama over a road and marina with base jumpers is documented with quadcopters and other video methods.

Why Firefighters Aren’t Using Drones to View the Blazes – Yet from Bill. This impressive aerial video of a wild fire and of aerial firefighting suggests why UAVs and response teams don’t mix well. also related: California firefighters encounter civilian drone for first time.

Mentioned

Birds Eye Alaska is the Kickstarter project of a paralyzed man who is using UAVs to create great content, and a new life.

Lost DJI Phantom/Drone and Go Pro (Litchfield Beach/Pawley’s Island) Missing quadcopter search by Craig’s List.

UAV053 Drones on Film

PD-100 Personal Reconnaissance System

Aerial photography in real estate, autonomous lighting for photographs, nano drones for situational awareness, a new UAV market size study, video selfies by quadcopter, a U.S. “no drone zone” map, taking aerial video of wildfires, and university professors speak to the FAA.

The News

NRT bans drone photography in northeastern US

Attorneys for NRT LLC, a large real estate brokerage, sent letters to the presidents of 200 offices telling them not to use drone photography until the FAA issues regulations. Not all real estate professionals are keen to shut down use of drones.

Drone lighting: Autonomous vehicles could automatically assume the right positions for photographic lighting

Researchers at MIT and Cornell University are developing autonomous robots equipped with lights that position themselves for photographers. As a first step, small multi-copters provide specified amounts of “rim lighting” for the subject, even as the photographer or the subject moves about.

Pocket-sized aerial surveillance system under development

A palm-sized unmanned helicopter is being developed by the The U.S. Army and Prox Dynamics  for dismounted troops. Under the Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, the little UAV would provide a soldier with situational awareness in difficult environments: around a building, in the next room, etc. [Photo above courtesy Prox Dynamics.]

Teal Group Predicts Worldwide UAV Market Will Total $91 Billion in Its 2014 UAV Market Profile and Forecast

Annually, the capable analysts at Teal Group provide a forecast of the UAV market. Industry professionals will want to purchase the report, but Teal Group gives us some information in their report summary. They say, “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) continue as the most dynamic growth sector of the world aerospace industry this decade.”

The ‘selfie’ is dead. Introducing the ‘dronie’

If you know what a “selfie” is you can figure out what a “dronie” is. These are short videos that capture you and maybe your friends or family, then zoom away to show the environment where you are – in your back yard, at the beach, on a mountainside.

Don’t Fly Drones Here

Zoom into this map of the United States to see major airports, U.S. military bases, and U.S. National Parks. All places to avoid when flying your UAV.

Civilian Drone Interferes with Sands Firefighting Efforts

Firefighters battled the The Sand Fire of El Dorado and Amador County, California for three days. Then a civilian drone taking video appeared. The fire department didn’t like that, identified the pilot, and turned the matter over to the Sheriff. Several press reports describe the situation using words like “interfered” and “hindered,” but provide no information whatsoever as to just what the problem was, making us wonder just who is fanning what fire…

Professors object to FAA restrictions on drone use

University professors are concerned that FAA prohibitions on sUAS operations will have the effect of stifling academic research. Specifically, that they are constrained by last month’s clarification from the FAA on rules for model airplanes operated at low-altitude over private property.

So 30 professors wrote a letter to the FAA saying,

“Under the FAA model aircraft rules, a 10-year-old hobbyist can freely fly model aircraft for recreation, while our nation’s scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are prohibited from using the same technology in the same types of environments.”

There is a process under which public colleges or universities can obtain a COA, but it does not apply to private schools, like Harvard and Stanford.

Public comments on docket number FAA-2014-0396, Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, are being accepted through September 23, 2014 at the Regulations.gov website.

Video of the Week

Mentawai Islands Drone Reconnaissance

The Mentawai Islands are a chain of about seventy islands and islets off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Mentioned

Airline Pilot Guy podcast.

UAV052 Propellerheads Aerial Photography

Propellerheads Aerial PhotographyGuest Parker Gyokeres owns Propellerheads Aerial Photography and produces professional aerial videos. We talk about that business in general, and in particular about the video of a recent wedding that is getting attention from the press and the FAA.

This story offers UAS regulatory issues, safety of flight issues, and even some good old fashioned politics. These are the facts:

  • Sean Maloney, a Democratic member of Congress from upstate New York was married June 21, 2014.
  • A video of the wedding was produced by Propellerheads Aerial Photography.
  • The FAA is investigating and says shooting the video from a hexacopter was illegal.
  • Mr. Maloney’s Republican challenger Nan Hayworth says, “It is a blatant conflict of interest to be sitting on a committee while being investigated by an agency it oversees.”

Parker explains the steps he took before the event to obtain clearance and permission from the property owner and event security. Parker is an experienced sUAS pilot and the mission was flown safely. He feels that “you can’t break a law that doesn’t exist,” but also that UAS pilots have a responsibility to get proper training and fly safely. Parker also has some very insightful comments on drone journalism.

Parker Gyokeres

In addition to being the owner of Propellerheads Aerial Photography, Parker Gyokeres is an award winning active duty U.S. Air Force Photojournalist and the current Chief of Public Affairs for the 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

He is a freelance author, a UAV builder/pilot and photographer represented by Legion Photo, and serves as the Secretary of the Professional Society of Drone Journalists.

Parker joined the U.S. Air Force in 1992 as an F-16 and F-15 weapons system technician before cross-training to become a public affairs photojournalist in 2006.  He has 22 years of worldwide expeditionary experience, that include three deployments to Afghanistan and one to Iraq.

As a remote control pilot and builder, Parker has extensive experience with the design, construction, and operation of both multicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. He also advocates and educates about the safe, responsible use of small UAVs for aerial photography at speaking and training events nationwide.

UAV051 Martha Stewart on Drones

Gobble HawkMartha Stewart’s farm via DJI Phantom, UAS competitions, Amazon.com petitions the FAA, and a utility company to start drone testing.

News:

Amazing Aerial Photos Of My Farm

One of Martha Stewart’s security employees took a tour of Martha’s farm with his new DJI Phantom. On her blog, she posted photos taken by the quadcopter, much to the delight of her fans. Is that commercial use by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Martha’s company?

Shaken or stirred? Drone bartender battles bots in design challenge

The Electrolux Design Lab is a design competition where students submit innovative ideas for households of the future. Among the 35 finalists this year, we see one that carries either hot or cold beverages to thirsty bar patrons, and dispenses the drinks into cups. Control is intended to be by voice or mobile app.

‘Gobble Hawk’ Wins NASA High-Altitude UAV Design Competition

There was another recent contest for students, this one specifically for UAVs that track hurricanes. NASA was looking for a lower cost high endurance UAS, and they chose the twin-fuselage Gobble Hawk design concept from Virginia Tech.

The second place OQ451-5 Trident from Purdue would be powered by hydrogen engines, with an endurance of 7 days. Third place was the University of Virginia Big WAHOO (Worldwide Autonomous Hurricane and Oceanic Observer), also hydrogen-powered..

Amazon asks the FAA for permission to play with its drones outside

Amazon.com has been operating its package delivery drones in an indoor test facility in Seattle. On July 9, they sent a Petition for Exemption to the FAA asking to move outside.

Amazon is serious about package delivery by drone. In part, their petition says:

Amazon Prime Air, a new delivery system that will get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using aerial vehicles, is one invention we are incredibly passionate about.  We believe customers will love it, and we are committed to making Prime Air available to customers worldwide as soon as we are permitted to do so.

We also see that Amazon has made significant progress:

In the past five months, we have made advancements toward the development of highly-automated aerial vehicles for Prime Air, including:

  • Testing a range of capabilities for our eighth- and ninth-generation aerial vehicles, including agility, flight duration, redundancy, and sense-and-avoid sensors and algorithms;
  • Developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles per hour, and will carry 5-pound payloads, which cover 86% of products sold on Amazon; and
  • Attracting a growing team of world-renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut.

Finally, Amazon summarizes:

One day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today, resulting in enormous benefits for consumers across the nation.  We respectfully submit this petition for exemption so that Prime Air can be ready to launch commercial operations as soon as eventually permitted by subsequent FAA action.

Eagle shot wins drone photography competition

A competition for drone photographs recently concluded and the winning photo is a birdseye view of an eagle in flight over Bali Barat National Park in Indonesia. You can see the contest winners at Dronestagram, a website dedicated to aerial photographs. Sponsorship was provided by National Geographic, Go Pro, Picanova, Droneshop and Parrot.

SDG&E Is First (Utility) in Unmanned Flight With Drone Testing

The San Diego Gas & Electric Co. says the FAA has given them permission to conduct test flights of a small camera-equipped quadcopter. Ultimately, the utility wants to use the UAVs for infrastructure inspection. Test flights are limited to rural areas away from houses.

MultiRotorForums Petitions White House to Adopt UK Drone Policy

DroneLive.com reports that MultiRotorForums.com created a petition on WhiteHouse.gov asking that the Obama Administration compel the FAA to adopt the UK’s commercial sUAS standards immediately. 100,000 signatures are needed by August 3, 2014.

 Lifeguard drone to the rescue!

In this concept from RTS, multicopters are fitted with life preservers, a FLIR camera, and the ability to detect swimmers in distress. They fly to the person and drop a life preserver faster than a human lifeguard could arrive.

Video of the Week

Flying Down Low Around Las Vegas Back Alleys with my RC UAV Drone for Aerial Photography

Mentioned

Drone Operators Arrested After Close Call with NYPD Helicopter

Two men were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment after flying a drone within 800 feet of a police helicopter at 2,000 feet near the George Washington Bridge.

Stronger privacy laws needed to protect public from drones, parliamentary committee says

An Australian federal government committee is recommending stronger privacy laws, particularly related to drones. Their report is called Eyes in the Sky: Inquiry into drones and the regulation of air safety & privacy. [PDF]

Eye in the sky keeps close watch on livestock
Kiwi ranchers use a hexacopter and GoPro.

Recommended Books

Amazon.com links to two good books for those just getting started:

The Beginner’s Guide to FPV

Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones: Learn about, buy and fly these amazing aerial vehicles

 

UAV050 Manufacturing Drones with a 3D Printer

 

BAE Transformer3D drone printers, continuously airborne UAVs, hacking drones, flying UAS over airports and sports events, a petition to the FAA, and mapping mud a landslide with a hexacopter.

The News

BAE Systems Unveils Concepts of On-Board Aircraft 3D Printers Able to Print Incredible UAVs During a Mission

The BAE Systems 25-year outlook includes technology for “on demand” UAV production, from inside an aircraft! In a possible scenario, the larger aircraft approaches an unknown situation, like a military conflict or a SAR event. It then manufactures a cloud of surveillance drones that go out, gather data, and return to the mother ship. Then, using the collected data, mission-specific UAV’s are manufactured to respond to the situation. (In the case of SAR, maybe a vehicle that could retrieve a person.) Another idea is a “transformer” made of multiple UAVs that could group and ungroup as needed.

New type of drones: Firm looks to create drones with unlimited flight time

A collaboration between Packet Digital LLC, the U.S. Department of Defense, and others hopes to create very long endurance UAV’s. First, to double the current flight time, but eventually unlimited endurance. By developing a “solar soaring power management system,” continuously airborne drones could be created with applications for the military, agriculture, search-and-rescue, and first responders. Flight testing will take place at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks.

Exclusive: Civilian drones need costly fixes to avoid hacking, study indicates

GPS navigation is a key UAS technology, and we’ve seen examples that suggest that GPS has vulnerabilities. In 2012, the FAA initiated a study by the GNSS Intentional Interference and Spoofing Study Team (GIISST) to look at vulnerabilities in GPS navigation.

The report has not been released publicly, but FAA has given an overview at a conference, saying, “Inexpensive, and readily available, GNSS repeaters and GNSS simulation tools can transmit hazardously misleading information ‘spoofing’ GNSS use.”

In September 2013, the FAA released a Navigation Programs Update [PDF] that gives some information about the GNSS Intentional Interference and Spoofing Study Team.

High-Altitude Drone Flight Prompts FAA Warning At Airport

A pilot flew his DJI Phantom on a video mission thousands of feet above the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama. This triggered an automated warning from the FAA about unauthorized drones near a homing beacon.

DJI: The Spirit of Football Video Contest

A DJI soccer/football video contest is underway to showcase the spirit of football. Submit your YouTube or Vimeo videos in aerial and non-aerial categories through August 20th.

Maine man wants FAA to change UAV regulations

Edward Lyons, the CEO of FPV America, says the FAA ban on UAS has “shut down his business before it was really able to take off.” So he’s started a petition at change.org asking the FAA to “Rescind Your Latest Ruling On Model FPV Flying And The Personal & Commercial Use Of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.”

From the petition: “We The People have a right to OUR airspace to practice and engage in our hobby. We have a right to commercial purposeful use of this airspace as well.”

UAV Mapping of a Landslide

Czech unmanned aerial vehicle and mapping company Upvision used a hexacopter to perform an aerial mapping of a landslide at a road construction project. The mapping and resulting geological survey will help engineers decide how to remove the debris from the landslide, which occurred at a road construction project.

A hexacopter was used to collect the data to create: an orthophoto map, a digital surface model using point clouds, and a 3D model for visualizing the entire area. All this from one aerial flight over the course of one hour.

Video of the Week

Man flies drone into West Palm Beach fireworks show

Many listeners sent the link to this rather impressive video. We understand the Phantom survived, but also that the FAA is Investigating Drone Flights Into Fireworks.

Feedback

Jon observed the shadow of a quadcopter in the video Road Test: 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S, confirming how the video was made.

UAV049 UAV Privacy, Subpoenas, and Regulations

SectionalUAVs taking off in China, aerial video and privacy, a map showing UAS regs by State, FAA subpoenas realtors, FAA might not make their 2015 deadline, and drone poetry.

The News

Drone Hobbyists Taking off in China

Twenty-three-year old Jin Xing is representative of the enthusiasm for UAVs that is growing in China.  He’s created the Butterfly Aerial Photography Workshop, a business he operates from his home. Jin and his partner take aerial photographs for client companies using six helicopters.

Aerial Photo Company Gets Cops Called on Them After Drone Startles Naked Woman

Portland, Oregon firm Skyris Imaging was out taking panoramic video for a developer. But when the resident of a 26th floor apartment looked out the window and saw a hovering drone, she assumes she was the victim of a peeping tom. So she called the police. As you would expect, the media went crazy with the story.

Are drones illegal in your state? This map can tell you

This map of the U.S. lets you click on a State and see legislation, proposed legislation, a description of the legislation, and associated websites.

Drone rangers slap Realtors with subpoenas

Real estate is one of the industries that offers an immediate business use for UAVs. But the FAA is watching UAV users that it suspects are operating commercial operations. Now they’re issuing subpoenas to real estate brokerages that use UAVs to take photos of properties.

Clever copters can learn as they fly

University of Sheffield’s Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (ACSE), is researching quadcopters that learn from their environment. These “flying robots” use camera images to build up a 3D map of the environment. Other sensors detect barometric and ultrasonic information. All this is fed to the autopilot software for navigation within the environment.

The use case is for aerial robots that can enter an environment, learn to identify objects and other features of the environment, and make decisions. The research quadcopters can also detect and interact with each other.

FAA will not meet deadline for unmanned aircraft

According to a report from the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, FAA will not meet the Congressionally mandated September 2015 deadline to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.

The report identifies four areas of concern and makes eleven recommendations.  These recommendations include the need for reports, milestones, timelines, clarification of responsibilities, process standards, more ATC study, definition of the data required from the six test sites, and metrics to measure performance to plan.

Video of the Week

Drone Captures Massive Yacht Fire As $24 Million Boat Is Engulfed In Flames 

Submitted by Paul Siebert: San Diego boat captain Kurt Roll was using a remote-controlled quadcopter drone to shoot aerial footage at a shipyard in Chula Vista, California on Thursday when he spotted a plume of smoke rising in the distance. Roll decided to use his device to get closer to what appeared to be a massive boat fire, and managed to capture some incredible, close-up footage of a yacht going up in flames.

Feedback

From Ben, a Laugh of the Week: “Stop saying ‘uh-oh’ while you’re flying”: Drone crash pilot quotes unveiled. Real recorded quotes from military drone pilots just before they crash.

Christian from Germany sent us two interesting links: SailDrone, for ocean science applications, and the Aerovel Flexrotor, a fixed-wing VTOL tail-sitter that is designed for autonomous operation in sites with restricted access.

DRONE: poems with found sound and video from Harry Giles, a poet and a performer who produces poetry through the eyes of a UAV!

New Sectionals that show UAV’s. This came from Tim Trott’s Southern Helicam website. (See image above.)

Airbus Wants To Take The Cockpit Out Of The Cockpit Of The Future. This Airbus patent applications describes airline pilots who are moved out of the front into an interior area of the airplane. They fly using first person view.

Airbus Cockpit Patent Application

 

UAV048 Evan Ulrich and his RoboSeed UAV

RoboSeed

While at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Become a Pilot Day, David and Max were fortunate to have a conversation with Dr. Evan Ulrich about his “RoboSeed,” a monocopter UAV.

We talked with Evan about the design, how it works, the control method, and future applications. Open up his RoboSeed website or visit the RoboSeed YouTube channel, have a look, then listen to this episode.