UAV065 UAS Regulatory and Legal Developments

NBAA 2014 Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Regulatory and Legal DevelopmentsWe review the Unmanned Aircraft Systems:  Regulatory and Legal Developments panel discussion at the NBAA 2014 conference.

NBAA2014 – BUSINESS AVIATION CONVENTION & EXHIBITION

At the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Florida on October 21, 2014, a panel discussion was held titled, “Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Regulatory and Legal Developments.”

The Panel was moderated by Marc Warren of Crowell & Moring LLP. Panel members were: Dean Griffith, FAA; Mario Mairena, AUVSI; Dave Hamrick, MITRE Corporation; and Ted Wierzbanowiski, ASTM standards for sUAS.

In this episode, we bring you selected clips from the first half of the panel discussion.

Topics include:

  • Some early history of FAA and ASTM activity.
  • The process for providing the FAA with sUAS recommendations.
  • The NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) for sUAS that the FAA intends to issue by the end of 2014.
  • RF spectrum allocation
  • The FAA view of sUAS as aircraft and the plan they have.
  • Challenges faced by the FAA to meet the Congressional mandates.
  • Next steps the FAA intends to take.
  • The COAs issued by the FAA.
  • Recreational (hobbyist) vs. commercial use.
  • How UAS technology might flow down to manned aviation, particularly General Aviation.

Other topics discussed by the panel that we’ll cover in the future::

  • If sUAS flyers should have a pilot’s license.
  • Educating UAS pilots.
  • Exemptions under Section 333 as a bridging authority.
  • Social risks with UAS, like privacy.
  • States and local governments enacting anti-UAS laws.
  • Is US competitiveness suffering?
  • What does the future of UAS (of all sizes) look like?
  • Are unmanned commercial passenger or cargo flights in the future?
  • Where did the 55 pound line come from?

Credit

We are grateful to Carl Valeri who attended the Convention and recorded the panel discussion for us. Find Carl at the Aviation Careers podcast and the Stuck Mic AvCast.

 

UAV064 Drones In the Water and Out of the Air

The Flyox I from Singular AircraftAn amphibian RPA, India bans drones, open source code for drones, area terrain mapping, DARPA’s ship-based MALE UAV concept, a new UAV market study, and more on logbooks for drone pilots.

News

The Flyox Amphib UAV enters market

Singular Aircraft has released the Flyox I, an amphibian RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) that can take off and land on water, as well as on unpaved runways and snow.

Flyox I is a high wing aircraft with a 14 meter wingspan, a 2000 kg payload, and is powered by two 340 HP engines. It can automatically take-off and land, and can be programed with preset flight paths.

Envisioned applications include agriculture, firefighting, goods transport, surveillance, and rescue.

India bans civilian drones in the country till it revises existing policies

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has prohibited the use of civilian drones in India. The DGCA says, “Due to lack of regulation, operating procedures/standards, and uncertainty of the technology, UAS poses threat for air collisions and accidents.”

Serbia and Albania game abandoned after drone invasion sparks brawl

Serbia’s European Championship football (soccer) qualifying match with Albania was stopped after a fight between the players broke out. When a DJI Phantom flew over the field carrying a “Greater Albania” flag, a Serbian player pulled it down, and that sparked the brawl.

Industry Coalition Wants Open Source Code for Drones

The Dronecode Project has been established as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project to foster a common, shared open source platform for UAVs. The Project includes the APM/ArduPilot UAV software platform and associated code, currently hosted by 3D Robotics.

Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm Technologies, SkyWard, Squadrone System, Walkera and Yuneec.

More than 1,200 developers are working on Dronecode. Press Release: Linux Foundation and Leading Technology Companies Launch Open Source Dronecode Project

Drone approved to map area terrain

Wright State Research Institute (WSRI) will partner with 3D Aerial Solutions to fly an eBee drone to map terrain at the Wilmington Air Park. The photogrammetry flights will produce a series of two-dimensional photographs that together create a 3D image. The Ohio/Indiana UAS Test Site will then use the data to virtually fly UAVs.

The eBee is a hand-launched flying wing type aircraft with a single pusher engine. It has a 38” wingspan, a 50 minute flight time, and a radio range of just under 2 miles.

Wright State also has asked the FAA for permission to fly a UAV above the National Center for Medical Readiness. A decision is pending.

DARPA advances ship-based MALE UAV concept

DARPA (the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has awarded AeroVironment a $19 million preliminary design contract to demonstrate launch and recovery of a medium-sized UAV from a small vessel.

According to DARPA, the tactically exploited reconnaissance node (TERN, now retitled Tern) program, “envisions using smaller ships as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude long-endurance [MALE] unmanned aircraft. Ideally, Tern would enable on-demand, ship-based unmanned aircraft system operations without extensive, time-consuming and irreversible ship modifications.”

“Subscale flight demonstrations” are expected over the next 12 months.

2014 UAV Market Research Study assesses size, growth of total UAV market

The “2014 UAV Market Research Study” from IGI Consulting estimates that the US market will grow from $5 billion in 2013 to $15 billion in 2020.

The study looks at the total UAV market, ranging from large military UAVs to small amateur UAVs. It considers DOD, Civil, Commercial, sUAS, DIY Amateur, and Radio Control aircraft.

Growth will be driven by the commercial and Do-it-Yourself markets, with major commercial applications being: agriculture, real estate, filmmaking, oil and pipeline, electric utility, and specialized package delivery.

Video of the Week

Hawk 1, Drone 0: Bird of prey attacks quadcopter, takes down from skies

A red-tailed hawk swoops down and takes out a Phantom FC40 quadcopter.

Mentions

Camera Drone Slams Into Turkey’s Blue Mosque, Recovers, Moves On

The UAV Systems Association, “America’s First Commercial Drone Association.” Members include manufacturers, distributors, retailers, publishing companies, software publishers, professional photographers, and enthusiasts.

2014 Strato Reel

More logbook references and software

UAV flight log for Android
RPAS Logger Lite for Android
RPAS Logger Lite description from RPAS Training & Solutions
UAS Flight Log online software
and Where Do We Go From Here? from Southern Helicam

 

UAV063 A New UAV Coalition is Launched

Small UAV Coalition

The Small UAV Coalition launches, law enforcement using drones, UAVs showcased, a spat over the MQ-9 Reaper, GNSS developments, and logbooks for UAV pilots.

News

Small UAV Coalition formed to promote civil and commercial use of small UAVs

Eight companies have formally launched the Small UAV Coalition to facilitate the entry of small UAVs in the United States and abroad. The Coalition intends to advocate for commercial, consumer, recreational, and philanthropic use of UAVs by removing  “unnecessary policy or regulatory hurdles that impede small UAV development, sales, job creation, and services.”

Founding members of the Small UAV Coalition are: 3DR, Aerialtronics, Airware, Amazon Prime Air, DJI Innovations, Google[x]’s Project Wing, GoPro, and Parrot. Attorneys at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP support the Coalition.

North Dakota cops use a drone to nab three suspects in a cornfield

When a car was pulled over by the Grand Forks, North Dakota police department for drunk driving, the occupants ran into a cornfield. The police brought out their AeroVironment Qube quadcopter and quickly found several of them hiding in the corn.

Aeronautics unveils new Orbiter 3b UAV

Aeronautics has unveiled the Orbiter 3b, offering more range and endurance than the previous model.

The Orbiter Mini UAV System is designed for use in Military and Homeland Security missions such as over the hill reconnaissance, low intensity conflicts, and urban warfare operations, as well as close range ISR.

It is catapult-launched from a vehicle, and recovery is by parachute and airbag.

Air Force rebuts Defense Department report on planned Reaper buys

The U.S. Defense Department Inspector General issued a report critical of the Air Force acquisition program for the MQ-9 Reaper.

The Air Force wants to spend $76.8 billion to buy 401 Reapers, but the IG says Air Combat Command didn’t obtain the proper approval or perform a verifiable analyses of number of Reapers to buy.

The Air Force issued a statement on their website titled, Air Force rebuts report due to outdated data, saying the IG report “is based on data that is out of date.”

UAVs at INTERGEO: Applanix, Others Announce GNSS-Guided Systems

A special session at the InterGEO conference and exhibition in Berlin, Germany, “UAVs in Practice,” gave attendees an opportunity to see systems for aerial surveying and mapping, environmental monitoring, and other civil applications.

Manufacturers at the show were mainly from Germany and other European countries.

Applanix Corporation from Canada announced its new APX-15 UAV GNSS-Inertial System. This reduces Ground Control Points (GCPs) and sidelap.

Germany-based Aibotix GmbH showed their Aibot-X6 V2, a six-rotor UAV with navigation by a GPS receiver integrated with gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer, magnetometers, and ultrasonic sensors.

The Hirrus Mini UAV System from Teamnet International can carry CCD or IR video cameras, photo cameras, radiation detectors, and other sensors.

Videos of the Week

Incredible Close-Up Drone Video of an Erupting Volcano in Iceland

Watch a brave drone get dramatically close to an erupting volcano

Mentions

14 CFR 61.51 – Pilot logbooks - In the U.S., the FAA prescribes the Federal Aviation Regulations, or FARs, part of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). 14 CFR 61.51 describes the pilot logbook requirements for manned aircraft. They may provide some clues as to what to expect should the FAA ultimately require logbooks for unmanned aircraft.

Going electronic with logbooks - This AOPA article describes some pilot logbook apps.

The Best Electronic Pilot Logbook - Reviews by Pilotman Aviation & Pilots Network

Pilot Pro Logbook - A cloud-based pilot logbook

Pilots of America Forum - A forum thread about electronic logbooks

Watch the Navy’s New Unmanned Swarm Boats In Action

Drones and the magical age of aviation

UAV062 UAVs for Agriculture

Nixie wearable droneAgriculture wants UAVs, the White House seeks drone data transparency, a wearable quadcopter, UAVs fight poachers, and Facebook plans to offer Internet access via drone.

News

FAA’s Sluggish UAV Ruling Slows Ag Research, Group Suggests

Commercial farmers everywhere are eager to apply new technology to their operations. That includes using unmanned aircraft for things like crop and livestock surveys, monitoring irrigation needs, and pest control.

Farmers in Louisiana as well as representatives from Louisiana State University’s AgCenter have formed a 17-member study group headed by a state Senator. They want to make recommendations to the FAA before it issues UAS regulations.

White House plans to require federal agencies to provide details about drones

The Obama Administration is circulating a draft Executive Order that if signed would make government use of drones more transparent.

The Order would apply to federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the Justice Department, NASA, the Interior Department, and the Commerce Department.

It would require that they provide information about the size of their fleet, how it is used, and what is done with the data collected.

Meet The Finalists Of Intel’s Make It Wearable Challenge

One of the ten finalists in the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge is “Nixie,” a wristband camera that unfolds into a remote-controlled quadcopter.

The idea is that on command, Nixie unfolds, flies up, turns around, takes a picture of you, and returns so you can catch it.

How the Shadowview Foundation uses aerial surveillance to stop poaching

With the help of the Shadowview Foundation, drones are being used to fight illegal poaching in Africa and Asia. Shadowview provides UAS for environmental, conservation, and humanitarian relief operations.

Others are active in this area. The World Wildlife Fund received a $5 million grant for its work in with drones specially designed by drone-maker Falcon UAV.

Facebook Wi-Fi Drone the Size of 747 Could Fly in 2015

Facebook plans to offer WiFi service to the two thirds of the world without Internet access via large, solar powered drones.

Fans are using drones to spy on the ‘Star Wars: episode VII’ set

Former RAF airbase, now public park Greenham Common is located about 50 miles west of London. It’s also the site where scenes for the next Star Wars movie are being filmed.

Someone identified only as “3dlp” flew a drone over the site and posted video on YouTube showing a Millennium Falcon under construction and two X-wing starfighters.

New Jersey Man Accused Of Shooting Down Neighbor’s Remote Control Drone

A man was using a drone to take pictures of a friends house under construction. A neighbor didn’t take kindly to that and took out the drone with a shotgun. He was arrested by police and charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief.

Drone used in Hannah Graham search; cops check for cold case ties

An Aeryon SkyRanger is being used in the search for missing University of Virginia student. The FAA approved the use of the drone, a first in Virginia according to authorities.

John Coggin, chief engineer of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, said the drone will be used to take a closer look at objects of interest in areas too difficult to reach by other means.

Video of the Week

“Beautiful Scotland,” A Drone’s-Eye View of the Scenic Beauty of Scotland

Edinburgh-based filmmaker John Duncan used a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter fitted with a GoPro 3+ camera FPV to shoot stunning aerial footage of Scotland for this his short film.

UAV061 Regs, Regs, and More FAA Regs

Tim’s DJI Phantom 2

Production companies get sUAS exemptions, FAA wants N-numbers for drones, new chip offers possibility of smarter UAS controllers, Google wants to test Internet service, and DHL will provide package delivery.

Guest

Guest Tim Trott has a broadcast production background, but today at Tim Trott Productions, he creates video for a range of services, including real estate tours, industrial videos, training DVD’s, commercials, web and conference/trade show videos, and industrial productions.

Southern Helicam is the video production company owned and operated by Tim Trott Productions, with offices in central and northwest Florida.

See Video Does it Better for Tim’s take on online video marketing, and the accompanying YouTube page. Also Tim’s posts that we talked about: Section 333: The Crack In The Wall… and Here Come The Section 333 Exemption Petitions which invites readers to answer some timely and relevant questions about licensing. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimTrott.

News

FAA Approves Exemption Allowing Drones to Fly on Movie Sets

The FAA gave permission for six production companies to use sUAS for filming movies and television commercials.

Under the exemptions, the aircraft must be flown under 400 feet, in line of sight, on closed sets, and with a certified pilot.

Google Wants Internet Broadcasting Drones, Plans To Run Tests In New Mexico

Google purchased electric UAV maker Titan Aerospace earlier this year, as part of their “Internet in the sky” strategy.

Now Google has filed an application with the U.S. FCC to test their technology at a site south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The application mentions the Titan acquisition, but what they want to test is redacted.

DHL testing drone for delivering parcels to island off coast of Germany

Trials are set to begin of “parcelcopter” deliveries to the island of Juist, 12 km off the north coast of Germany.

The German transport ministry and air traffic control authority have given DHL permission to test the drone for 15 – 30 minute flights through a restricted flight area.

Intel and 3D Robotics Working to Make Smarter Drones

Earlier this year, Intel announced the $50 Edison computer on a chip. It runs Linux, has 1GB of ram, a 500Mhz dual core processor, with Bluetooth, and WiFi.

Reportedly, 3D Robotics is looking to bring Edison to their existing Pixhawk autopilot system.

FAA Issues Requirement for All UAS to Show Aircraft Registration Number

The FAA has decided that commercial UAS (those operating under a COA) must carry registration numbers, just like manned aircraft.

These “N-numbers” must be “registered and marked prior to COA application,” according to an email sent by the FAA to the industry.

Addendum: Tim notes that all you need to get an N number is $20. See the FAA Forming an N-Number page.

FAA warning: Keep your drones grounded during UN summit

This week the United Nations Climate Summit was held at the organization’s headquarters in New York.

As with other kinds of events, the FAA issued a TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) over parts of New Jersey and New York.

That’s not unusual. But what was unusual was that for the first time, the FAA made it a point to specifically mention that the TFR also applied to drone operators.

 3D Pocketcopter – the flying camera

3DPocketcopter This small, tubular-shaped copter features two counter-rotating rotors, a downward-facing camera for stills or video, and control by smartphone via WiFi.

 

 

The Indiegogo project is closed, after raising €113,927 of a €15,000 goal.

Dutch Boy Turns Dead Pet Rat Into Flying Tri-Copter

When Ratjetoe the pet rat died, he was stuffed. Now he lives on as a tri-copter.

@DroneMama says, “OK, that’s gross.”

Video of the Week

SPARKED: A Live Interaction Between Humans and Quadcopters

Cirque du Soleil has developed a short film featuring 10 quadcopters in a flying dance performance. SPARKED: Behind the Technology gives you a peek at how the video was produced.

UAV060 Searching for the Missing

MLB Super BatFAA grants an emergency COA, Reno is not just for manned aircraft anymore, Chinese inflatable UAVs, more UAS regulations, and more bad behavior with drones.

News

Drones Get Waiver to Search for Missing Texas Woman Christina Morris

The FAA granted an Emergency COA to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of Gaithersburg, MD in order to utilize an Unmanned Aircraft System in the search for a woman missing in Texas.

Under the Emergency COA, NIST was able to operate an unmanned aircraft through contractor Texas EquuSearch, a non-profit organization that assists with locating missing individuals.

The FAA issues COAs “on an emergency basis when: 1) a situation exists in which there is distress or urgency and there is an extreme possibility of a loss of life; 2) the proponent has determined that manned flight operations cannot be conducted efficiently; and 3) the proposed UAS is operating under a current approved COA for a different purpose or location.”

Texas EquuSearch used the NIST’s catapult-launched MLB Super Bat, but did not locate the woman. The search was subsequently suspended until more leads could be developed.

Reno air races draw new kind of aircraft: drones

This year’s National Championship Air Races in Reno included the Small UAS Challenge, designed to test speed, agility, and strength. Contestants navigated an obstacle course, and participated in a time trial and a dead lift. A “Drone Zone” gave event attendees an opportunity to learn more about unmanned aerial vehicles and systems.

Tianjin expo reveals Chinese UAV innovations, aspiration and Now that’s an AIRplane! Homemade inflatable drone reaches speeds of 120mph

The Chinese are actively seeking to develop their aviation industry, and that includes unmanned vehicles. At the Tianjin International UAV and Model Aircraft Technology Exhibition, a family of UAVs were shown that featured inflatable bodies. The  SF-1, SF-2 and SF-3 have wingspans of 2.5 m, 3 m and 4.3 m respectively, and a useful load of 25 kg. They can be inflated with either air, helium, or hydrogen.

This development reminds David of the experimental Goodyear Inflatoplane, produced in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

Europe Outlines Action Plan For UAV Policymaking

Matthew Baldwin, the director of aviation and international transport affairs with the European Commission (EC) had some comments from the UAS 2014 conference held in London:

  • The task of creating a regulatory framework that promotes UAS but addresses safety and privacy concerns.
  • The current European framework is fragmented, and that’s a competitive disadvantage.
  • Thresholds based on UAV weight are inconsistent, absurd, and arbitrary.

Baldwin said, “We believe that EASA [the European Aviation Safety Agency] is best placed to develop rules, and we envisage an EC proposal early next year to cover safety, liability and insurance, security privacy and so on.”

This Dunkable Drone Will Suck Up Whale Snot for Science

Whales have blowhorns that are lined with mucus and researchers want to collect that mucus to determine the health of the whale. Obviously, whale mucus is not easy to collect. The Olin College of Engineering has tackled this problem by developing and testing a drone they call Snot Bot. They want the FAA to give them permission to use it on real whales.

Pilot spots drone flying near Nashville airport runway

On approach to Nashville International Airport, the pilot of an American Eagle flight spotted a hovering drone. ATC notified the police air unit and the FAA is investigating.

Drones snooping into homes

Residents in this town are complaining about drones snooping around. One woman says her son had friends over for a pool party, and suddenly a drone was hovering overhead.  Neighbors also report seeing a drone after dark with flashing red and green lights.

Videos of the Week

Keep an eye on battery life

Max Trescott sends in this close call where the pilot saves his DJI Phantom before it sinks into the water.

DJI Phantom and GoPro 3 Black go for a swim

Note:  This video contains some profanity

In this video passed to us by Neal, a Phantom is not so lucky. But the GoPro keeps recording underwater!

Feedback

Tethered UAS

Since the FAA excludes tethered aircraft from its unmanned aircraft policy, listener Eric wondered if a tethered UAS is likewise excluded. So he asked them, “does the FAA have any guidelines in regards to tethered aircraft?”  The FAA’s response:

“The short answer is no.  We had looked at tethered UAS a couple years ago or so.  The story is we thought they could be considered like a kite or moored balloon covered under 14 CFR Part 101.  There was an internal discussion and our lawyers weighed in and deemed them aircraft, tethered or not.  Tethering is merely a very good safety mitigation.  Since they are aircraft, they must comply with all civil 14 CFR rules in place.  That means the civil UAS must be certified by the FAA as airworthy.  Currently the industry & FAA standards to make that determination are not yet fixed.  This along with many other integration problems yet to be solved makes the current civil use of UAS extremely limited.  Governmental uses enjoy a bit more freedom to use UAS since each governmental entity self-certifies its aircraft.”

“An operator could petition the FAA for an exemption under 14 CFR Part 11.  Tethering would help in proving to the FAA the operator can meet an equivalent level of safety to the NAS [National Airspace System].”

LiPo Battery Safety Tips

Luke Harris sends along some good advice for LiPo batteries:

  • When charging, never leave your battery unattended.  NEVER!  This is the stage where if a fault is present the battery can could possibly catch fire.
  • Never charge a battery indoors.  Ideally charge on the concrete outside and keep the battery in a LiPo safety bag while charging.
  • Always use a balance charger and ensure you select the correct setting on your charger that matches the battery.  Avoid ‘fast charging’.  The most common model of charger in Australia is the ‘swallow charger’.
  • Know your batteries, purchase a battery checker than can read the total capacity of the battery as well as individual cells.  When you land your model, aim to have a total charge remaining of 40%.    Never fly until the battery is empty, this will lead to problems when trying to charge.
  • If you charge a battery it is safe to store them in your LiPo safety bag if the weather is not ideal for flying, for around one month.  If you plan to store your batteries for a long period of time, discharge them to 30-40%.
  • Any sign of puffing batteries, dispose of them immediately.  They are not expensive to replace and not worth risking a fire.  Dispose by dropping the battery into a bucket of salt water.

UAV059 Sense and Avoid

NASA Predator B Unmanned Science and Research Aircraft SystemSense and Avoid by NASA and General Atomics, South African rules by 2015, Amazon’s drone page, package delivery by Flirtey and Google, and cease and desist letters from the FAA.

Guest

Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., (USMC-Ret.), the NASA Administrator since July, 2009.

In this clip from a longer interview recorded for the Airplane Geeks podcast, Charlie talks about NASA’s activity to develop autonomous flight technologies with the UAS test sites, focusing on sense and avoid. NASA is looking at low altitude sUAS air traffic control, and they are finalizing an agreement with Google on sense and avoid technology for package delivery systems. NASA wants to help the FAA get out ahead of the developing market.

News

General Atomics Readies for ‘Detect and Avoid’ Demo

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is developing aircraft detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems for unmanned aircraft. First, they’ll conduct software regression and hardware functional testing on their Predator B at the company’s flight operations facility in Palmdale, California.

Then, they’ll move the system to the NASA Predator B Unmanned Science and Research Aircraft System named “Ikhana,” a Native American Choctaw word meaning intelligent, conscious, or aware. Five weeks of collision avoidance trials will be performed where the Predator will be flown against “intruder” aircraft.

CAA on track to introduce UAV regulations by March 2015

The South African Civil Aviation Authority says it will finalize UAV regulations by March, 2015.

The CAA says until then, UAV operation in civil airspace is illegal and operators could be subject to a fine or up to ten years in prison, or both. Flying on private land or in restricted airspace is also illegal.

However, the director and chairman of the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of South Africa (CUAASA) says you cannot be fined by the CAA because there are no laws in place.

Guess Which Giant Retailer Has Officially Opened Up a “Drone Store”

Amazon.com has officially opened a “Drone Store” featuring the DJI Phantom and the Parrot Drone. Coming soon is the TechJect Dragonfly, a “Wi-Fi enabled robotic insect.”

Mike Fortin, the CEO of CineDrones thinks selling hobby-grade equipment without emphasizing education or safety is irresponsible. But Amazon’s Drone Store web page has a “Fly Responsibly” link that takes you to more “links for informational purposes only:”

Drone Startup Flirtey Partners with The University of Nevada, Reno To Push UAV Delivery Forward

In October 2013, Flirtey started drone delivery tests in Australia. They now have more than a hundred successful test deliveries of textbooks, with its partner Zookal, a company that sells textbooks online.

Now Flirtey has teamed up with UAS research center University of Nevada, Reno. The University gets equity in the company, and Flirtey gets collaboration with the University’s R&D labs for design, manufacture, and research. Flirtey also gets access to the University’s graduate students and indoor flight-testing facilities.

Flirtey is going commercial in New Zealand, which is launching Airshare as a UAV hub where commercial operators can log flight information.

2 Arrested for Flying Drones Near Brooklyn Bridge, US Open: NYPD

The first individual arrested was allegedly flying over the Brooklyn Bridge. He was reported to police by transit workers. The man was visiting from Russia.

The second arrest was for an overflight of the National Tennis Center, hosting the U.S. Open.  The operator, a filmmaker, reportedly stated that he thought he was flying in an “appropriate park space.” The National Tennis Center is a private facility adjacent to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which is a public space.

Undeclared drone batteries sparked plane fire at Melbourne airport

We’ve seen stories about how certain kinds of Lithium-Ion batteries get hot and cause fires on airplanes. Here, a passenger’s hard plastic case in the hold contained Lithium-ion polymer batteries intended to power a remote control drone. Just prior to takeoff, the captain of the Fiji Airways plane detected the smoke from the cargo hold and called a mayday.

FAA Scans the Internet For Drone Users; Sends Cease and Desist Letters

In January, Governmentattic.org made a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA for “copies of any letters, e-mails, or other written or electronic communications requesting or demanding individuals and organizations cease and desist, stop operating, or stop advertising unmanned aerial vehicles.”

The FAA responded with records of 17 “warning letters and e-mails [PDF] sent out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional offices to individuals…” Most of the cease and desist letters went to aerial video companies, but two universities were asked to stop operations associated with drone journalism studies.

The FAA communications list 3 ways under which UAVs can be operated:

  1. Certificate of Authorization (COA)
  2. Experimental Certification
  3. Recreational hobbyists

None allow commercial operation for aerial photography for hire.

Video of the Week

Gawk at Richard Branson’s tropical hideaway via aerial drone

You can’t afford to vacation at this private island, but Sir Richard is pleased to present this aerial tour.

Feedback

Paul Braun of TATTS writes to tell us that, “the Taking Autism To The Sky project (TATTS) was notified by Timothy Reuter of the Washington DC Drone User Group the other day that we are a finalist for the Social Drone Innovation Award.” Watch their Drone Social Innovation Award Submittal video and give them a “like.”

UAV058 Making and Breaking UAV Laws

Cyber Technology Cyber QuadFAA sued over drone restrictions, UAV arrests and confiscations, privacy legislation in California, UCLASS delay, NASA developing ATC for drones, Disney seeks UAS patents.

News

Lawsuits Assert Broad Economic and Scientific Impact of FAA’s Drone Restrictions

Three lawsuits have been filed by attorney Brenden Schulman (@dronelaws) over the FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. These were filed on behalf of:

1. The Academy of Model Aeronautics and its 170,000 members

The “no commercial operation” prohibition means no model aircraft public demonstrations or model aircraft training when some payment is involved, as well as competition prizes, and product reviews conducted by employees.

2. Several commercial drone interests, including: Peter Sachs and the Drone Pilots Association, the UAS America Fund (founded to finance the commercial drone industry), Skypan International, an aerial photography firm, and FPV Manuals (sells equipment for model aircraft).

No services can be offered with model aircraft that have even an incidental business purpose, and Peter Sachs cannot assist the volunteer fire department.

3. The Council on Governmental Relations, an association of US research universities.

Model aircraft for scientific research have long been used without any FAA restrictions. The FAA’s interpretation “poses a grave threat to science, research, education, and technological innovation across the United States.”

Customs seizes $80k worth of unauthorised drones

Australian UAV manufacturer Cyber Technology is being prosecuted for failure to obtain a permit to export drones. The list of “Defence and Strategic Goods” controlled by Australian law includes UAVs that can be controlled outside line of sight.

College student arrested for flying drone over football game

A University of Texas student allegedly flew a drone over a school football game. University police identified the student and seized the drone. In a statement to a local TV station, University Police said, “Our top priority is the safety our students, employees, fans and visitors.”

FAA allows recreational drone demonstrations for first time ever at an air show & it’s in Cleveland

This year’s Cleveland Air Show included demonstrations of fixed-wing and multicopter drones for the attendees. It represented a great opportunity to provide the general public with more awareness of what “drones” are all about.

CA State Senate Approves Law Limiting Drone Use by Police

To address privacy concerns, the State Senate in California has passed legislation that requires police to obtain surveillance warrants in order to use drones, unless exigent circumstances exist.

This seems to be at odds with the 1989 case, Florida v. Riley, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that citizens do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy from the air because airplanes and helicopters fly over private property all the time.

U.S. Navy delays start of bidding for unmanned carrier-based drone

The U.S. Navy had planned to release this month a final request for proposals for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance Strike (UCLASS) contract. Now they say they’ll wait until the Pentagon conducts a broad review of intelligence and surveillance programs this fall.

NASA is building an air traffic control system for drones

NASA is working with to create technologies for controlling air traffic control for drones operating at low altitudes, around 400 to 500 feet off the ground.

Disney Sees Drone-Operated Entertainment

Disney has filed three patent applications to use unmanned aerial systems at its theme parks. The patents envision using multiple UASs to support lightweight materials that can be used as projection screens, creating “flixels” or floating pixels, and animating Disney characters in the night sky.

Videos of the Week

Napa Earthquake 2014 Quadcopter Test Video from Doug.

DJI Drone Video: The Arrival of the USCG Eagle in Gloucester Ma from Rick.

Angry ram takes down drone from @DroneMama.

Mentioned

PrecisionHawk

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.