UAV231 The Drone Services Industry

The changing landscape for drone services, drone swarms for urban tactics, a simulated drone attack in Idaho, European airport operators embrace the value of drones but look for protections, MIT develops a mapping system for drone navigation, the Department of the Interior uses UAVs with great results, and Intel at the Olympics.

UAV News

Here’s Why The Drone Services Industry is in Trouble

In the “old” days, the Section 333 process was long and difficult. The hardware was tricky to operate and getting data from the drone was not easy. So companies used drone service providers to accomplish the desired missions. Now, a Part 107 is easy and cheap to obtain, flying drones is easier, and data from the drone is not as difficult to acquire. This means companies can create their own in-house drone capability.

PrecisionHawk Acquires Droners.io and AirVid to Launch the Nation’s Largest Network of Commercially Licensed Drone Pilots

PrecisionHawk has acquired Droners.io and AirVid to deliver on-demand, drone-based imagery to enterprise clients. The companies will merge and operate under the Droners.io name. Combined, they form a network of more than 15,000 commercially licensed drone pilots, which PrecisionHawk will use to service its enterprise customers in insurance, agriculture, energy, construction, and government. Part 107 certified pilots can join the network and start accepting jobs in their region by creating a profile at www.droners.io.

Participants wanted for UAV swarm-based tactics test bed

Northrop Grumman is the Phase 1 Swarm Systems Integrator for the DARPA OFFSET program (OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics). The program “envisions future small-unit infantry forces using swarms comprising upwards of 250 small unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and/or small unmanned ground systems (UGSs) to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments.” Northrop Grumman is about to launch its first open-architecture test bed and they are looking for participants to create and test their own swarm-based tactics on the platform.

Idaho Technology Company Black Sage Plans Drone Defense Demonstration at Idaho State Capitol

On February 21, 2018, Boise, Idaho-based Black Sage plans to demonstrate a drone defense system as they create a drone attack on the state capitol. Black Sage will create a virtual fence around the capitol, fly a swarm of drones directly into the protected area, and demonstrate the counter-UAS system to safely defeat the threat.

European airport operators call for adoption of drone rulebook

Airport Council International for Europe (ACI Europe) says safety issues involving drones and airports are increasing, and they want to see “an effective regulatory framework.” ACI Europe released the 6-page position paper on drone technology, ACI Europe Position on Drone Technology [PDF] in January. The paper recommends:

    • Airport-specific protection policies, including standardized protected zones
    • Technical systems to detect and neutralize drones
    • Traffic management for drone operations at airports
    • Readying the airport industry for future drone technology opportunities.

MIT teaches drones to fly with uncertainty

MIT researchers are developing the NanoMap system for drones. The system navigates a drone from point to point while avoiding random obstacles. Where other models have the drone map the environment, then fly through it, NanoMap creates maps on the fly.

Interior’s magic bullet: Drones that are DoD castoffs

The Department of Interior has a fleet of drones, many of which are hand-me-downs from the Department of Defense. Nevertheless, the drones are performing tasks that take one-seventh the time at one-tenth the cost, such as: land surveillance, wildlife monitoring, assistance with natural disasters, and dam inspections.

UAV Videos of the Week

High-tech drones steal the show at the Winter Olympics

Intel | The Tech Behind a Record-breaking Drone Show at PyeongChang 2018

Mentioned

Questions remain after drone collides with helicopter on Kauai

 

 

UAV230 Ehang Autonomous Aerial Vehicle

Ehang flies their autonomous aerial vehicle with human passengers, reaction to a close encounter with an airliner, drone safety measures at the Olympics, drone video awards, drone package delivery by Airbus, and thoughts on cargo drones.

Ehang 184 autonomous aerial vehicle.

Ehang 184 autonomous aerial vehicle. Image courtesy Ehang.

UAV News

Flying car? Watch as this drone flies around with passengers inside

The Ehang 184 autonomous aircraft is rated for a 220-pound payload, a cruising altitude of 500 meters, and a top speed of 80 mph.

CEO takes ride in passenger drone to demonstrate that it’s safe

Ehang has conducted over 1000 flight tests, including some with human passengers. Other flight tests include a 300-meter climb test with a 507-pound payload, a 9.3 mile distance test, and tests in high winds. Video shows two variants: a single-seater with eight pairs of rotors on four arms, and a two-seater with sixteen pairs of rotors on eight arms.

EHANG 184 AAV Manned Flight Tests

FAA Investigating Video of Drone Flying Dangerously Close to Airliner

Video originally posted on a Facebook group shows a drone flying close to a Frontier Airlines Airbus A320 on final approach to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The poster says he is a Las Vegas high school student and the video is real, but he didn’t shoot it. The FAA confirmed to Flying that it is taking the video very seriously,

UAS Stakeholders to FAA: Use Full Authority to Apprehend and Prosecute Reckless Las Vegas UAS Operator

A number of UAS stakeholders sent a letter [PDF] to the FAA to encourage it “to use its full authority to investigate, identify and apprehend an operator who recently flew a UAS over an airliner making its final approach at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.”

DJI institutes no-fly zones around sports arenas as the Olympics open in South Korea

DJI is implementing temporary no-fly zones around sports arenas at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Aviation authorities recommended the size of the zones.

Drone-catching drones to bolster security at Winter Olympics

Despite precautions, officials are concerned about rogue drones and have taken additional steps. A special drone-detection radar developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology will be used. There are reports of signal-jamming guns and “drone-catching drones” with nets may be deployed.

2017 Drone Video Awards Winners

The 2017 AirVūz Drone Video Awards winners have been announced:

Airbus Helicopters’ Skyways UAV takes flight into future of parcel delivery

The Skyways UAV completed its first flight demonstration at the National University of Singapore. The drone was launched from the Airbus dedicated maintenance center. It flew to the roof of a specially designed parcel station and used a robotic arm to load a package. It then returned to the maintenance center. Airbus Helicopters’ Executive Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technical Officer, Alain Flourens said, “Safe and reliable urban air delivery is a reality not too distant into the future, and Airbus is certainly excited to be a forerunner in this endeavour.”

Singapore Air Show: Drone tech is ready, but are we?

Air Cargo World noted the Airbus achievement, but comments that “Drones with last-mile delivery capabilities… require a dense population to justify the typically steep costs from research to deployment.” Additionally, Air Cargo World stated that regulatory hurdles exist in densely populated areas, and residents might be hostile to unmanned vehicles.

Also at the Singapore Air Show, ST Aerospace showed the concept for an unmanned freighter piloted by an artificially intelligent computer. ST Aero was optimistic that an unmanned freighter could be possible in the next five years. The technology is available now, they say, but public sentiment is not there yet.

UAV Video of the Week

Beaver Dam Collapse Update 2018

This video documents a Beaver Dam collapse and rebuild on private property in Northern Minnesota. The dam was an engineering marvel as it was double-decked, holding back over nine feet of water.

Mentioned

CNY Drones

Organizing an upstate New York open team drone competition.

 

UAV229 DroNet Autonomous Flight Through Cities

DroNet uses deep machine learning for autonomous flight, a labor union takes a stand on package delivery by drone, a tiny radar for sUAS, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and a British drone survey.

DroNet: Learning to Fly by Driving

DroNet: Learning to Fly by Driving

UAV News

AI-Powered Drone Mimics Cars and Bikes to Navigate Through City Streets

Researchers have developed a drone that can autonomously fly through the streets of a city. DroNet uses minimal onboard sensing and is trained with datasets collected by cars and bicycles.

Two years ago, roboticists at the University of Zurich trained a deep neural network with photographs taken by cameras mounted on a hiker’s head. They could then fly a drone along forest paths. Now, along with researchers from a Madrid University, they have used city datasets to train the rules for navigating through streets without running into anything.

DroNet is a convolutional neural network, designed as a fast 8-layers residual network. It produces two outputs for each single input image: A steering angle to keep the drone navigating while avoiding obstacles, and a collision probability to let the drone recognize dangerous situations and promptly react to them.

The researchers publicly release all their datasets, code, and trained networks. Learn more at the DroNet project website, and the research page on deep learning. See also the video DroNet: Learning to Fly by Driving.

No parcel drones. No robo-trucks – Teamsters driver union delivers its demands to UPS

The Teamsters union and UPS are holding labor negotiations that cover 260,000 union workers in North America. Reportedly, one of the union demands is a prohibition on “driverless trucks, drones, robots, and other driverless technology.” In Teamsters Union Says ‘No’ to UPS Drones, we find this:

“With a smaller carbon footprint and ever-increasing sophisticated, AI-infused behavior, it makes sense to transition to individual aerial deliveries, not to mention the convenience on behalf of the customer. On the other hand, one completely understands and empathizes with the aversion truck drivers have toward this stark, autonomous future. If it feels like their jobs are being endangered by the incredible exponential growth in technology, it’s because they are. Hence, a series of discussions soon to be cemented into policy, with one side trying to slow things down in order to survive, and another eager to march into the fully autonomous future.”

Aurora Flight Sciences and Socionext Develop Radar-Enabled Collision Protection Solution for Drones

Aurora Flight Sciences is collaborating with Socionext Inc. on a Radar Flight Control Module that exists as a single-chip 24GHz radar. It includes range measurement software and the radar can detect multiple objects, objects in open spaces, and target distance and speed. The RFCM talks to the flight controller and provides distance, warning and braking signals, preventing head-on collisions with obstacles. Press release: Aurora Flight Sciences and Socionext Develop Radar-Enabled Collision Protection Solution for Drones [PDF].

DHS SAVER Program Issues ‘Counter-Drone’ Procurement Guide for Emergency Responders

The DHS National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) program conducted a market survey of counter-unmanned aerial systems. The 19 page Market Survey Report: Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems [PDF] is intended to assist emergency responders in identifying useful products.

The thirteen systems identified range in price from $7,500 to $1.9 million. Eight systems can detect, track, classify and mitigate SUAS; two systems can detect, track and classify SUAS; and three systems can mitigate SUAS.

Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems

Market Survey Report: Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems. Source: DHS.

Driving licence for DRONES supported by majority of Brits, while 1 in 5 call for total ban

In a study commissioned by a UK tech firm Nominet, more than 2,000 British adults were surveyed. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents believe that flying a drone should require the equivalent of a driving licence. Thirty-seven percent said the Government should set up a body to manage drone ownership.

 

UAV228 Aurora Flight Sciences Orion

Aurora Flight Sciences and PrecisionHawk receive additional funding, some first responders gain permission for BVLOS and night flights, the FCC imposes a civil penalty for communications violations, China is developing a heavy cargo drone, and KFC offers a build-a-drone promotion.

Orion Unmanned Aircraft System from Aurora Flight Sciences

Orion Unmanned Aircraft System. Photo courtesy Aurora Flight Sciences.

UAV News

Boeing’s New Drone Subsidiary Purchase Is Already Paying Off

The U.S. Air Force awarded Aurora Flight Sciences a $48 million contract to fund continued development of its Orion Unmanned Aircraft System. This MALE Orion is a twin-engine, fixed wing, heavy fuel propulsion aircraft with “over three times the endurance and range of current ISR platforms.”

PrecisionHawk Secures $75 Million to Foster Global Adoption of Commercial Drone Technology

PrecisionHawk Inc. announced a $75 million round of funding from a group of venture and strategic investors. This new funding brings the total funding to more than $100 million.

Danbury, Conn., Firefighters Green-Lit to Fly New UAV at Night

The FAA has issued a waiver to the Danbury Fire Department to conduct flights at night. Without the waiver, such night flights would be prohibited. The Department operates a DJI Matrice 210 and received training through Fire Tech and Safety of New England Inc.

Ontario Paramedics Now Fly BVLOS

Renfrew County paramedics initially had Transport Canada’s permission to fly drones within line of sight. But they wanted BVLOS and conducted a six-day demonstration in Spring 2017 with Transport Canada, RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, and InDro Robotics. They then received permission to fly UAVs at night within a four-nautical-mile search area.

Renfrew paramedics use their drone to scan rugged crash sites, locate people lost in the woods, and determine whether snowmobilers fell through ice or made it safely to shore. They have the ability to deliver an automatic external defibrillator, a personal flotation device, and deliver a rope out to a person on the ice.

Frequency Check: Is Your UAS FCC Compliant?

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. Recently, the FCC imposed a civil penalty of $180,000 against “high-end” FPV supplier Lumenier Holdco LLC. That company provided products operating on frequency bands reserved for federal aviation navigation and communication. Also, some of the Lumenier UAS used unauthorized transmitters exceeding the authorized one-watt power limit for model aircraft. In the consent decree [PDF], Lumenier admitted liability.

China’s new drone company is building a UAV with a 20-ton payload

Tengoen Technology is developing several drones, including an eight-engine drone with a 137 feet wingspan that can carry a 20-ton payload up to 4,660 miles. The carbon-fiber, double-bodied drone is targeted for a 2020 first flight.

KFC’s New Chicken Wings Come With Drone Parts

Under a new KFC India limited-time promotion, “Smoky Grilled Wings” orders come with drone parts that can be assembled into a Bluetooth-enabled KFO (Kentucky Flying Object). The drone can be controlled with a smartphone. Watch the promotional video.

 

UAV227 Drone Parachute Recovery Systems

Drone parachute systems to protect your UAV, state-level drone legislation, UAS disaster response training, large drone swarms and peeping drones, and a new drone registration class action lawsuit against the FAA.

Harrier Drone Parachute Launcher on Mavic Pro. Courtesy Fruity Chutes.

Harrier Drone Parachute Launcher on Mavic Pro. Courtesy Fruity Chutes.

UAV News

New Harrier Parachute Launcher is Light, Compact, and Easy to Use!

Fruity Chutes announced a new line of drone parachute launchers. The servo-activated Harrier Drone Parachute Launcher was developed for fixed wing and small multicopters. It featured a thin wall carbon fiber canister, lightweight nylon components, and a high energy compression spring. Three models are offered with different weight ratings.

Other companies offering drone parachute recovery systems include ParaZero Drone Safety Solutions from Israel, Skycat from Finland, Mars Parachutes in California, Parachutedrone in France, and UAV Propulsion Tech in Florida.

New Jersey Passes UAV Penalty Bill

New Jersey’s state Assembly Bill 5205 would create fines and prison terms for unsafe or prohibited operation of UAVs. It addresses operating a drone in a manner that could endanger life/property, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or for the purpose of taking or assisting in the taking of wildlife. Also for operating a drone near a correctional facility or interfering with first responders or lawful hunters.

Florida International University UAS management for disaster response workshop

Florida International University and Airborne Response are providing a 40-hour advanced-level workshop tailored for UAS operators, airspace managers, and emergency management officials. The interactive, hands-on course provides instruction for disaster response UAS operations.

China is making 1,000-UAV drone swarms now

In December 2017, Ehang UAV set a world record for the largest drone swarm ever deployed. 1,180 drones flew in a nine-minute aerial light show at the close of the Global Fortune Forum in Guangzhou. The drones can move autonomously and land if they have a problem. Ehang is saying that its swarms are self-repairing.

Israeli Researchers Use Radio Signals to Detect Peeping Drones

Ben-Gurion University researchers say they can tell if the drone outside your home is spying on you. It works by comparing a “pattern” of the object you want to monitor (like your house) to the radio signals intercepted from a nearby drone. For more details, see the research paper: Game of Drones – Detecting Streamed POI from Encrypted FPV Channel [PDF].

Game of Drones – Detecting Streamed POI from Encrypted FPV Channel

FAA Drone Registry Tops One Million

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced that the total number of drones now registered with the FAA has reached one million. 878,000 hobbyists have registered and 122,000 commercial, public, and other drones have been registered.

Robert Taylor v. FAA- 2nd Drone Registration Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit (of at least 836,796 members) against the FAA is brought by Robert Taylor, the brother of John Taylor who brought the other drone registration lawsuit. In four counts, this suit alleges the FAA collected personal information and money for drone registration and did not delete the registry or refund the money when the registration was ruled illegal. Drone registration refunds and statutory damages are estimated to be almost $841 million.

Scott+Scott, Attorneys at Law, LLP Alerts Investors to Securities Class Actions Against GoPro, Inc. (GPRO)

A shareholder class action lawsuit has been filed against GoPro alleging that the company made false and misleading statements and did not disclose that the demand for Karma drones and other products GoPro products had declined dramatically.

Mentioned

Unmanned Cargo Aircraft Conference

March 20, 2018, at the North Carolina Global TransPark in Kinston, North Carolina. The Conference aims to bring together manufacturers, operators, knowledge institutes, consultants, shippers and government organizations active in the upcoming field of unmanned cargo aircraft.

Cargo Innovation Conference

June 6-7, 2018, De Maaspoort, Venlo, the Netherlands. The conference will address the impact of digitalization of logistics processes on efficiency, profitability, user-friendliness, transparency and more.

UAV Video of the Week

Drone saves two Australian swimmers in world first

Two teenage boys got into difficulties in heavy surf about 2,300 feet off the coast of Lennox Head, New South Wales. Lifesavers instantly sent the Little Ripper UAV to drop an inflatable rescue pod, and the pair made their way safely to shore. The drone took about a minute to reach the boys. It was estimated that lifeguards would have taken three to six minutes.

 

UAV226 Drones at CES 2018

Drone news from CES 2018, drones and asymmetrical warfare, situational awareness for sense and avoid from Insitu, a Cargo Air Vehicle prototype from Boeing, and GoPro exits the quadcopter market.

The Volocopter 2X autonomous air taxi at CES 2018.

The Volocopter 2X autonomous air taxi at CES 2018.

UAV News

Drones fly over Bellagio fountains during Las Vegas CES

Intel Corp. flew 250 light-emitting Shooting Star drones over the Fountains at Bellagio at CES 2018. Intel plans a drone show at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Video: Intel’s drone light show sends 250 drones flying over Las Vegas at CES 2018

Volocopter 2X: An Autonomous Flying Taxi In Flight At CES 2018 In Las Vegas For The First Time

The Volocopter 2X autonomous passenger drone lifted off on the stage at CES 2018. The flight was short and tethered for safety.

Yuneec announces Typhoon H Plus alongside first fixed-wing and racing drones

Yuneec showed three drones at CES 2018: The Typhoon H Plus for pro photographers and videographers, the Firebird FPV fixed-wing drone, and the HD Racer small racing drone.

Images from CES 2018

These photos were provided by junior21 in our Slack listener team:

Law enforcement drone at CES 2018.

Law enforcement drone at CES 2018.

Yamaha Frazer at CES 2018.

Yamaha Frazer at CES 2018.

CES 2018 drone safety booth.

CES 2018 drone safety booth.

Defining Asymmetrical Warfare: Extremists Use Retail Drones to Attack Russian Air Base in Syria

There are reports of insurgents modifying commercially available quadcopters to deliver explosives such as mortar rounds and grenades. Social media photos show the damaged tail of a Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft in Syria. There is speculation the Russians have intercepted the drones with the Pantsir S-2 integrated missile and gun vehicle.

Insitu Demonstrates Broad-area Airspace Situational Awareness System for Unmanned Air Systems

Insitu completed a successful flight demonstration of their real-time, ground-based UAS airspace situational awareness system. The system allows commercial UAS operators to detect and avoid nearby aircraft flying both within and beyond line of sight. The system is specifically designed to help detect and avoid “non-cooperative” traffic. Insitu collaborated with Boeing Phantom Works International in Australia under a program sponsored by the Queensland Government.

Boeing Unveils New Unmanned Cargo Air Vehicle Prototype

The unmanned electric VTOL multi-copter Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV) prototype is designed to carry up to 500 pounds. Boeing will use it to “test and evolve Boeing’s autonomy technology for future aerospace vehicles.” Initial flight tests were successfully completed at Boeing Research & Technology’s Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Missouri.

Future of autonomous air travel: Boeing unveils new cargo air vehicle prototype

GoPro Plunges After Announcing Job Cuts, Revenue Miss

GoPro Inc. had a difficult fourth quarter. The company is cutting more than 20 percent of its global workforce and ending its drone business. GoPro says they will sell off the existing inventory of Karma drones but will continue to provide service.

UAV Video of the Week

Brain Controlled UAV

A hacked Star Wars Force Trainer uses the operator’s thoughts to control a small drone in this ARCLab ACE Project.

Feedback

NASA chief historian Bill Barry sets the record straight on the origins of the winglet. It was Richard Whitcomb at NASA that gets credit for the aeronautical innovation, not DARPA.

Dryden Flight Research Center: Winglets

 

 

 

UAV225 DARPA Gremlins

DARPA Gremlins advance reusable drone technology, North Carolina plans UAS workshops for public safety agencies, Seaglider underwater drones set to explore Antarctic ice shelves, fuel cell propulsion systems will be integrated into the ScanEagle, and medical package delivery drones are successful in Africa.

DARPA Gremlins launched from a C-130.

DARPA Gremlins launched from a C-130. DARPA image.

UAV News

Air Force Could Test “Flying Aircraft Carriers” as Early as Next Year

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Gremlins program envisions small, reusable drones that can be launched from a C-130 inflight to surveil or attack targets as much as 300 miles away. The Gremlins then return to their flying airbase and are flown back to home base where there are prepared for their next mission.

In Phase 2, DARPA will review Gremlin prototypes from Dynetics and General Atomics. In Phase 3 DARPA will select one of the two prototypes for a “full-scale technology demonstration system” that will be test-flown in 2019.

North Carolina government plans drone workshops for 2018

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is planning free UAS/Drone workshops for public safety agencies. The purpose of the workshops is to educate agencies on the safe and beneficial uses of drones, provide updates on the latest federal and state regulations, and provide best practices for safe operations and data management. The Operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in North Carolina web page contains a downloadable 47-page safety guide [PDF] and an online knowledge test.

Drones Are Diving Under Antarctic Ice to Map Unseen Portions of Our World

The University of Washington in Seattle is planning to use seven underwater robots to explore an Antarctic ice shelf. Three Seaglider self-propelled drones “swim” by adjusting their buoyancy and using mechanic “wings.” The Seaglider Fabrication Center, a division of the School of Oceanography in the College of the Environment, provides Deepgliders™, Seagliders™, operator training, and glider refurbishment. Under a license agreement with Kongsberg Underwater Technologies, Inc. (KUTI), the University can only produce Seagliders for customers inside the University of Washington.

Earth Under Water is a 45 minute National Geographic program that looks at the worldwide rise in sea levels.

Drone Operator Sues Blackhawk Pilot for Destroying Drone over Staten Island

Maybe. The Aviation Acorn treads a bit into the realm of The Onion.

Ballard, Insitu partner on UAS fuel cell propulsion system

Ballard Power Systems is working with Insitu to develop a next-generation fuel cell propulsion system for the ScanEagle UAS. The 1.3-kilowatt system for small unmanned fixed-wing and vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) drones will be integrated into the ScanEagle platform.

‘Uber for blood’: how Rwandan delivery robots are saving lives

As an update to our report in Episode 146 about medical package delivery in Rwanda, we see that the Rwandan health ministry has delivered more than 5,500 units of blood over the past year using Zipline drones. Delivery times to remote regions of Rwanda have been cut from four hours to an average of half an hour. Now Zipline plans to launch what it claims is the world’s largest drone delivery network, working with the government of Tanzania.

UAV Video of the Week

Zipline

This video shows how medical package deliveries with Zipline drones save lives in Rwanda.

 

 

 

UAV224 UAS Identification and Tracking

An Aviation Rulemaking Committee has released their recommendations for identification and tracking of unmanned aircraft, Airbus looks to incorporate some Formula 1 technology into their Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite, a proposal is submitted to send a multirotor drone to one of Saturn’s moons, a drone quickly finds a missing man, and the FAA prohibits drone flights over certain facilities.

Half-scale Dragonfly test-bed vehicle

An autonomous half-scale Dragonfly test-bed vehicle built by the Penn State University Center of Excellence for Vertical Lift.

UAV News

FAA Releases UAS Remote Tracking & ID ARC Report

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) submitted its 213 page final report and recommendations: UAS Identification and Tracking (UAS ID) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), ARC Recommendations, Final Report. [PDF]

The FAA says, “Overall, the ARC provided the FAA with a substantial amount of useful data, including very detailed technology evaluations and a comprehensive list of law enforcement needs and preferences. The ARC’s recommendations and suggestions… cover issues related to existing and emerging technologies, law enforcement and security, and implementation of remote identification and tracking. Although some recommendations were not unanimous, the group reached general agreement on most.”

FAA Releases UAS Remote ID, Tracking Report; Groups Dissent

The ARC recommended that model aircraft operating under Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 be exempt from identification and tracking requirements. The dissenting opinion was that this recommendation would undermine the value of an ID and tracking requirement.

The dissenting opinion was led by the Commercial Drone Alliance and signed by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Agricultural Aviation Association, X, GE, uAvionix, Ford Motor Co., AirMap, and General Atomics. They “appreciate the extensive efforts of the ARC but strongly disagree on the critical point of who and what UAS should have to comply with ID and tracking requirements.”

The FAA will use the data and recommendations in the ARC report and produce a proposed rule for public comment.

Airbus seeks help from Formula One team to develop high altitude drone

The solar-powered Airbus Zephyr UAS is designed to fly at 65,000 feet, above weather and commercial air traffic. Acting as a “High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS),” it is designed to fly without fuel for months in communications and surveillance roles. Airbus Unmanned Aerial Systems will work with the Williams Motorsports Formula 1 team on battery and lightweight composite materials technology.

Finalists in NASA’s Spacecraft Sweepstakes: A Drone on Titan, and a Comet-Chaser

NASA solicited proposals under the New Frontiers competition for missions to explore the solar system, and they announced two finalists.

The Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return (Caesar) spacecraft would travel to the comet that was previously visited by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, and return a sample for study.

The John’s Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Dragonfly is a Plutonium-powered quadcopter that would be sent to Saturn’s moon Titan. It would take measurements on the surface of Titan, then fly to another location on the moon. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is the principal investigator for Dragonfly.

Video: Dragonfly: A Proposal to Explore Titan, Saturn’s Largest Moon, via Quadcopter

After humans fail, drone tracks down lost 92-year-old in 20 minutes

92-year-old Bill McDonnell went hunting in Shenandoah County, Virginia but didn’t come home. Rescuers used helicopters and foot patrols but couldn’t find him. The next morning, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office team put up their new drone and found McDonnell in 20 minutes. Additionally, though not part of this operation, the drone is one of six in the nation that flies in the Project Lifesaver program designed to locate people with medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s who are wearing a specific wristband.

FAA Expands Restrictions to Include UAV Flights over Department of Energy Facilities

Effective December 29, 2017, drone flights below 400 feet are banned over seven DOE facilities in the interest of national security. Violations can result in tens of thousands of dollars in fines and possible criminal charges with up to one year in jail. The restrictions apply to both hobbyist drones and civil aircraft at these locations:

Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID
Pantex Site, Panhandle, TX
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC
Y-12 National Security Site, Oak Ridge, TN

UAV Video of the Week

Santa & the X-MAS drones

 

 

 

 

UAV223 UAV Traffic Management in New Zealand

Airways and AirMap partner on a three-month trial of a UAV traffic management (UTM) platform, NTSB issues Aviation Incident Final Report on drone collision with a helicopter, Singapore tests drone strikes on test dummies, recreational drone registration is signed into law, and using drones for law enforcement.

UAV air traffic management in New Zealand.

Airways and AirMap partner to provide UAV air traffic management in New Zealand.

UAV News

New Zealand to trial drone traffic management system

Airways is New Zealand’s air navigation service provider. They deliver air navigation and air traffic management consultancy and training services throughout New Zealand and in over 65 countries. Airways has now partnered with AirMap to conduct a three-month trial of New Zealand’s first UAV traffic management (UTM) platform. The trial is taking place in the Canterbury and Queenstown regions. Drone users can use AirMap’s free iOS and Android apps to obtain approvals, file flight plans, and access real-time information about other aircraft in the area.

Airways NZ AirMap trial

NTSB Aviation Incident Final Report on collision between Blackhawk helicopter and DJI Phantom

On September 21, 2017, a Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter operated by the U.S. Army collided with a privately owned and operated DJI Phantom 4 at about 300 feet MSL. The helicopter received minor damage while the Phantom was destroyed. The NTSB determined the probable cause(s) of this incident to be: “The failure of the sUAS pilot to see and avoid the helicopter due to his intentional flight beyond visual line of sight. Contributing to the incident was the sUAS pilot’s incomplete knowledge of the regulations and safe operating practices.”

More Than 600 Drones Were Crashed in the Name of UAV Safety Research

In order to better understand the injuries that could occur in a drone collision, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Air Traffic Management Research Institute, crashed over 600 drones into dummy heads to gather as much data as possible. They found that a small 250 gram drone could kill a person.

NTU researchers test damage from drones on dummy heads

Turns out, you’re going to have to register your small drones with the U.S. government after all

On December 12, 2017, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 into law. The FAA rules for drone registration and marking for small unmanned aircraft that were vacated by the court will be restored to effect.

Taking to the Air: Drones and Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies in Delaware are utilizing drones for a variety of purposes. Dover, Wilmington, and Ocean View agencies are using drones. So are the Delaware State Police, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, and the state fire service. The drones are being used to monitor crowds during public events, survey homeless camps, monitor rallys and public exhibitions at schools, for aerial photography of crash scenes, to support court cases, and searching for suspects.

UAV222 Pipeline Inspection with SkyX

SkyX completes a data collection flight of a Mexican gas pipeline, Terra Drone uses the LTE network for unmanned traffic management, Europe moves toward drone standards, Maine law enforcement employs drones, China uses drones for monitoring forest fires, New Jersey tackles droning while drunk, and Airbus expands its investment in unmanned technology companies.

The SkyOne drone for pipeline inspection. Courtesy SkyX Systems Corporation.

The SkyOne. Courtesy SkyX Systems Corporation

UAV News

Canadian drone remotely monitors gas pipeline in Mexico

Canadian company SkyX Systems Corporation offers systems for monitoring long-range assets like oil and gas pipelines. Now they have successfully completed a 100 kilometer robotic data collection flight of a gas pipeline in Mexico. SkyX founder and CEO Didi Horn said, “More than $38 billion is spent annually monitoring oil and gas pipelines using less efficient means, which often identify problems only long after they’ve occurred.” The flight was programmed and monitored by SkyX at their Greater Toronto Area SkyCenter mission control center with a support crew of engineers on the ground in Mexico.

Video: SkyOne: From Concept to Completion

New UTM System Uses Cellular Network to Extend Flights BVLOS

Japanese UAV service provider Terra Drone Inc. and telecommunications operator LG U+ have developed a 4G LTE control system that gives operators the ability to remotely monitor their drones through the LTE network. This provides beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capability

Terra Drone is also working with UNIFLY on the “Terra UTM” unmanned traffic management system. They want to promote international standardization of the system.

IATA stresses need for UAV operation standards

IATA (the International Air Transport Association) and ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) are working together to develop standards for commercial use of UAVs. ICAO has sent a letter to its member countries asking them to protect manned aircraft operations from drones.

EU reaches initial agreement on UAV rules

The European Parliament and European Council negotiators have agreed to new regulations for civil use of UAVs by the EU member countries. “The design and manufacture of drones will have to comply with EU basic requirements on safety, security and personal data protection. Drones to be covered by the EU safety rules will be those that have an impact force of more than 80 joules if they hit a person.”

Brunswick police could be 1st in U.S. to use drones to spot railroad trespassers

The Brunswick (Maine) Police Department is concerned about trespassers along railroad tracks and they want to use drones to patrol the tracks. Desiree French, a spokeswoman for the Federal Railroad Administration says, “This device will only be used for detection, not enforcement.” They hope to have the program operating by early summer 2018.

The 9 best drones for generating some holiday buzz

New Atlas gives us their “picks for the best unmanned aircraft to get a loved one buzzing come Christmas morning.”

China’s CH-4 to be Deployed for Firefighting

The Chinese manufacturer of the CH-4 unmanned “rainbow drone” has made a deal with the regional forestry authority to monitor forest fires in northeast China. Previously, fire monitoring was performed by visual observation from fixed look-out posts and, occasionally from manned aircraft. The CH-4 is equipped with both visual and infrared sensors to allow it to see day and night and through fog.

New Jersey considers barring operating a drone while drunk

New Jersey lawmakers are working on legislation that would make it illegal to operate a drone while drunk.” The bill also bans using a drone to hunt wildlife and endanger people or property, and criminalizes using drones that endanger safety at correctional facilities as well as interfering with first responders.

Airbus Invests In Maker Of ADS-B For UAVs

Airbus is taking a stake in uAvionix, a Montana-based startup developing miniaturized ADS-B transceivers for detect-and-avoid in UAVs. Airbus previously invested in AirMap, AEye, BestMile, and Cognata.