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

Lipo Battery Fires are Real

LiPO Spontaneously catches on fire at EZDrone

Turnigy LiPo Battery Explosion and Fire in my House

Respect Your Lipos  Part 1 – Lipo Fire

LiPo Failure and Fire

Small LiPo Fire – Lucky…

 

 

UAV138 Blanket Drone Approval for New Section 333 Exemptions

Aerotain Skye droneA significant change for Section 333 holders, a carrier-based aerial-refueling system, mapping with UAVs, a drone that romps in the crowd, using drones for health care, extrapolating birdstrike data to drone strikes, an unmanned underwater vehicle, and a fuel cell-powered drone.

News

UAS: blanket approval granted for 1,120 drones . . . But only going forward

In the past, Section 333 exemption applicants had to list the makes and models of all UAS intended for use. If an exemption holder later wanted to fly a different UAS, an amendment was required. Now, however, newly granted exemptions say there is a:

“… list of Approved Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) under Section 333. The list, which is updated monthly, is posted at www.regulations.gov under docket number FAA-2007-3330. The petitioner is also authorized to operate any UAS on that list, when weighing less than 55 pounds including payload while this exemption is valid.”

The current list dated March 4, 2016 “Approved Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Make/Model under Section 333 – March 4, 2016 (Corrected)” [PDF] has 1,120 UAV makes and models, from the “3D Robotics Aero” to the “Zeta Science Buffalo FX79.”

The FAA says, “It includes UAS readily available for purchase as well as those built by petitioners which are not available for purchase from retailers.”

US Navy descoping stealth requirement for Stingray tanking UAV

The Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program was originally envisioned to create an unmanned intelligence and strike asset. The Pentagon has now changed the program into the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS) to create an unmanned carrier-based aerial tanker called the MQ-25 Stingray.

3D Robotics partners with Sony on a drone that can map the world in 3D

3D Robotics is partnering with Autodesk and Sony on a project that uses a modified Solo drone to scan a location and create a 3D map. The model or map would be uploaded while the drone is in the air, which would then be available to others offsite. The system uses the soon-to-be-released Sony UMC-R10C camera, and will come with a Sony tablet preloaded with Autodesk’s FORGE software. 3D Robotics says it is planning to introduce a multispectral and thermal camera, hardware specialized for scanning agricultural sites, chemical plants, and oil rigs.

Drone meets blimp for crowd-friendly UAV

Aerotain had developed the helium-filled Skye drone to be used safely in crowds of people. The 3-meter diameter sphere has four motors to maneuver it almost like a flying eye. The Skye has a two hour flight time, and the rotor blades are not exposed, making it safe to use in a crowd. Applications include audience engagement at events, advertising, and live event HD video streaming.

Using drones to save lives in Malawi

10,000 children died of HIV-related illnesses in Malawi in 2014. There are only eight labs in the country that can test blood, and since many of the children live in remote villages, the samples are often transported by motorbike over dirt tracks. Now, in partnership with Unicef, a drone from California-based Matternet is being used in an experiment to deliver blood samples quickly and autonomously by air.

We talked about Matternet in UAV103 Matternet Tests Autonomous Package Delivery, July 2015 when freight carrier Swiss WorldCargo announced that testing had begun using the Matternet ONE drone for small package delivery.

New Research Suggests the FAA Exaggerates the Threat that Drones Pose to Airlines

Two researchers from George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia wanted to find out if drones really pose a risk to the airspace. So the researchers examined 25 years of data from the FAA’s wildlife strike database and published the results of their study in Do Consumer Drones Endanger the National Airspace? Evidence from Wildlife Strike Data.” Their conclusion:

“Although aircraft collide with birds many thousands of times per year, only a tiny fraction of those collisions result in damage to the aircraft, much less human injuries or deaths. The most serious reported incidents typically involved flocks of large birds. Since the addition of UAS to the airspace is similar in many respects to an increase in the bird population, we conclude that the risk to the airspace caused by small drones (for example, weighing up to 2kg, or 4.41 pounds) flying in solitary formation is minimal.”

Boeing Introduces Long-Endurance UUV, Echo Voyager

Boeing’s 51-foot Echo Voyager is an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that can operate autonomously for months under water. Unlike other UUVs, the Echo Voyager does not require a surface support ship, and it can surface and transmit collected data back to users. Sea trials begin this summer off the California coast.

Video of the Week

Home with my Drone

Watch what happens when a ten-year-old boy is left alone at home and gets a visit from the local law enforcement agency for flying his drone in his own backyard.

Mentioned

Drone flight powered by lightweight hydrogen-producing pellets

A Raptor E1 electric drone made a successful test flight using a fuel cell. Fuel pellets manufactured by Cell Energy are heated to produce hydrogen gas, which runs a fuel cell from by Arcola Energy. For the “makers” out there, Arcola Energy sells 1.5 to 30W Hydrogen Fuel Cell Developer Kits that integrate with the Arduino, mbed, and Raspberry Pi boards.

UAV137 Aurora’s LightningStrike Hybrid-electric X-plane

Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrikeThe Aurora Flight Sciences unmanned VTOL X-plane, shore-to-ship package delivery, Senate FAA reauthorization bill impacts UAS, more proposed local drone legislation, a new DJI Phantom, and high-altitude sUAS flying.

News

Aurora Wins Darpa Contract to Build Novel Drone Demonstrator

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded second- and third-phase contract awards to Aurora Flight Sciences for the “LightningStrike” technology demonstrator. Aurora plans to start flight testing the vertical takeoff and landing experimental plane (VTOL X-Plane) in 2018.

The LightningStrike features two large rear wings and two smaller front canards. The same Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine used in V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is mounted in the fuselage and powers three Honeywell generators which drive 24 ducted fans on the wings and canards. The wings and canards rotate to direct the fan thrust for hovering, transition, and forward flight.

Aurora’s LightningStrike VTOL X-Plane

Maersk Tankers Claims First Drone Delivery to Ship at Sea

A French Xamen Technologies drone dropped a small package onto a Maersk tanker in Denmark as a test to see if drones could be used to deliver spare parts, mail, or medicine to a ship. Compared to traditional means of delivery, the potential cost savings is significant.

Bipartisan Senate FAA bill shuns Shuster’s ATC proposal

The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has introduced a bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill that does not include any proposal for air traffic control privatization. However, under the Senate bill, the US National Institute of Standards (NIST) and the FAA would “develop risk-based, consensus industry standards on [UAV] aircraft safety.”

“The FAA would also establish a process for the airworthiness approval of small [UAVs] based on the consensus standards, in lieu of the more cumbersome certification process used for the approval of other aircraft. These standards … approved by FAA would ultimately improve safety by prescribing which safety technologies would be built into unmanned aircraft systems sold in the United States.”

Drone-Mounted Handgun, Flamethrower Reignite Lawmaker Debate

Reacting to the well-publicised drone weaponization exploits of a Connecticut teen, state legislators have conducted public hearings and proposed legislation to outlaw certain activity.

One bill would make it a class C felony, punishable by one to ten years in prison, to use a drone to release tear gas or other substances, or to control a deadly weapon or explosive device. Another bill would also limit how law enforcement and state agencies can use drones. But Peter Sachs, author of the Drone Law Journal, says one version of the bill exempts police from the ban on weaponized drones.

Proposed Utah legislation would allow cops to shoot down drones

Utah is not fooling around when it comes to drones. The recently introduced Senate Bill 210 would designate certain drone activity as aerial trespassing, and create guidelines for enforcement, including an option for police to shoot down rogue UAVs. State Senator Wayne Harper wants to address three issues: privacy, non-interference with airports and aircraft, and non-interference with emergency situations.

The bill would ban drones within 500 feet of correctional institutions or within three miles of a wildfire, and make it illegal to use a drone in the surveillance of large crowds or for stalking someone in a voyeuristic way. Violating drones could be neutralized by first responders or law enforcement officers.

DJI’s New Phantom 4 Drone Is Smarter, More Expensive and Available From Apple

DJI introduced the Phantom 4 which can dodge obstacles and track humans. The Phantom 4 features two sensors that allow it to react to and avoid obstacles in its path. The TapFly mode lets you tap on the live view on your smart device screen to direct the Phantom 4 in that direction. Flight time increases to 28 minutes, which is 25% more than the Phantom 3 Professional.

Someone thought it would be a good idea to fly a drone at 11,000 ft—it wasn’t

An anonymous YouTuber claims to have flown a modified DJI Phantom 2 to an altitude of 11,000 feet. Not all drone enthusiasts are impressed.

Video of the Week

African kids see drone for the first time!

Mark Brandon Smith was filming in Uganda when the headmaster of a school there asked him to give the kids a show with the drone. Watch the reaction from the kids as he flew the DJI Phantom 3 Professional for a short flight.

Mentioned

High-tech ‘bazooka’ fires a net to take down drones

The SkyWall 100 from U.K.-based OpenWorks Engineering fires projectiles at drones from a shoulder-mounted compressed air launcher. The Skywall locks on the drone, tracks the drone’s flight path, calculates an intercept trajectory, and fires a cannister with a net.

Watch high tech ‘bazooka’ take down a drone Fox News

Watch This Jet Ski Destroy a Drone, and Catch Some Serious Air

 

 

UAV136 First Person View Drone Racing

FPV drone racersWe get a first-hand look at first person view drone racing.

Guest

Fred Samson works for a large, international software company, but he’s also a 400hr FAA certificated pilot, formation lead acrobatic pilot, and drone enthusiast. He’s a member of the San Francisco chapter of the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA), he races on the national circuit, and he also helps people get into the sport.

FPV Racing

Fred SampsonFirst Person View racing is an incredible community of people of all types: teenagers, tinkerers, long-time RC folks, and people who are brand new to multirotors. Racers meet in parks, underground parking lots, container yards, abandoned buildings, and whatever they can find. The sport exploded in 2015 and this year we expect to see even more clubs, leagues, and international events (like the World Championship in Hawaii and the World Drone Pre in Dubai.

We talk with Fred about the sport of FPV drone racing, how it has grown, the forms it takes, what draws people to it, and how it’s different from line-of-sight flying. We touch on safety, the racing organizations, track design,   and how racing improves the breed.

Mentioned

Drone Racing League

MultiGP

World Drone Prix race in Dubai

fr3d_fly on Instagram

fr3d_fly Youtube Channel

Listener Team on Slack

Video of the Week

4K HD Drone warehouse racing

An impressive, drone’s eye view of racing in and around a warehouse. Watch this and you’ll understand the thrill of FPV drone racing.

UAV135 Micro UAS Legislation Will Have to Wait

The Ocuair Enduro multirotorThe House FAA reauthorization bill returns to Committee, package delivery by drone in Singapore, a quadcopter crosses the English Channel, filming wildlife with drones, a drone detection system for airports, and putting UAVs on the internet.

News

House FAA reauthorization legislation delayed

The “AIRR Act” that passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on February 11 with “micro UAS” provisions has met broad opposition, largely over the topic of air traffic control privatization. As a result, the Act has returned to the Committee for revision, thus delaying action on both small and micro UAS.

Airbus Helicopters and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Sign MoU for UAS Experimentation Project

Under the Skyways Experimentation Project, Airbus and CAAS expect to conduct package delivery proof-of-concept trials in Singapore in two phases. In the first phase, Airbus will create a network of parcel stations on the campus of the National University of Singapore (NUS). Phase two would test package delivery from a station on the Singapore coast to ships anchored in the bay.

Drone makes historic 72-minute flight across English Channel

UK commercial drone operator Ocuair™ has successfully flown a quadcopter across the English Channel. The customized Enduro quadcopter flew 35 km (21.7 miles) in 72 minutes, with an operator staying within 500 meters in a chase boat. Along the way, the drone encountered a GPS guidance problem, requiring manual guidance for the last part of the flight.

Making Aviation History – The First Quadcopter Drone to Fly Across the English Channel

Attenborough calls in the drones for his new series: Broadcaster will use technology to capture elusive and dangerous animals

For his new six-part Planet Earth II series, Sir David Attenborough has used ultra-high-definition and ultra-high-speed cameras mounted on drones to capture dramatic footage of dangerous and elusive animals.

Anti-drone system for airports passes tests

As reported in Episode 117, the FAA entered into a Pathfinder agreement with CACI International Inc. to evaluate using the company’s sensor technology to detect rogue UAS in the vicinity of airports. Now the CACI proof-of-concept system has been tested at the Atlantic City International Airport. The SkyTracker system uses radio frequency sensors positioned around an airport which detect frequencies typically used by unmanned aircraft. Then it triangulates the signals to provide the location of the UAS and its operator. FAA press release: FAA, DHS, CACI, UMD Perform UAS Detection Work.

AT&T and Intel to Test Drones on LTE Network

AT&T and Intel are working to understand how drones could be connected via a ground-based network. Intel will partner with the AT&T Internet of Things (IoT) team, and the AT&T Foundry innovation center in Palo Alto, California.

Video of the Week

Raffaello D’Andrea: Meet the Dazzling Flying Machines of the Future

Autonomous systems expert Raffaello D’Andrea demonstrates a flying wing that can hover and recover from disturbance, an eight-propeller craft that’s ambivalent to orientation, and a swarm of tiny coordinated micro-quadcopters. Filmed February 2016 at TED2016.