UAV083 Section 333 Exemption Challenges

Burnz Eye View LLC

Experiences of a Section 333 exemption recipient, drones over Paris landmarks cause a commotion, and Rhode Island wants to regulate commercial and recreational drones.

Guest

Mark Burns is the owner of Burnz Eye View LLC, a promotion and marketing company located in Southern California and specializing in aerial and “MōVI” filming. On January 23, 2015, Burnz Eye View became only the 16th company in the United States to receive a Section 333 exemption from the FAA allowing Burnz Eye View to fly sUAS commercially.

We talk with Mark about the process of obtaining the exemption, utilizing the services of an aviation attorney, and communications with the FAA. Mark also describes the challenge of operating within the limits of the exemption. He advises UAV operators to create a logbook to document flying time and maintenance in order to demonstrate proficiency to potential clients and for insurance purposes. Mark points to Skyward as a company that can help you set up a digital logbook.

Burnz Eye View began with aerial video for the real estate industry, but since the exemption Mark is looking to expanding into television and commercial films, insurance/structure/bio inspection with thermal and IR/EO, and integrating sUAS in national parks and sporting event activities.

Mark was first introduced to flying as a Marine while serving as aircrew in the back of a CH-46E helicopter in Okinawa, Japan. After serving for over nine years, Mark went on to work in the greater Washington D.C. area as a government contractor in the intelligence and biometrics fields. Mark and his family moved to California in 2009 and he started Burnz Eye View in 2013.

News

Mystery drones ‘fly over French capital’

Mysterious drones over Paris cause panic

At least five drones were spotted flying over a number of Paris landmarks on two consecutive nights. The sites included the US embassy, the Eiffel Tower, the Place de la Concorde, the Invalides military museum, a train station, the Paris Opera, the Tuileries gardens, and Paris’ Montparnasse Tower.

3 arrested over Paris drone; no known link to night flights

Three Al-Jazeera journalists arrested for flying drone in Paris

Three Al Jazeera journalists were arrested for flying in some woods in western Paris. They say they were filming a report on the mystery drone flights. Two were subsequently released.

RI lawmakers want to study, regulate drones

The “Rhode Island Unpiloted Aerial Vehicles Act” [PDF] would give the state the authority to regulate commercial and recreational drones:

  • Drones would have to be registered with the Department of Public Safety.
  • Operation would be limited near airports, military and government buildings, and schools.
  • It would be illegal to take pictures or video of a private building without permission.

Mentioned

No Film School channel on YouTube for guidance on how to take your aerial cinematography to the next level.

RageCams for camera lens modifications to change focal length or eliminate fisheye effects.

UAV082 Reaction to the FAA’s NPRM for Commercial sUAS

NBC Exclusive Drone Footage Captures Frozen Niagara Falls

Companies, the press, and other interested parties have looked at the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for small UAS, and the response has been positive, but there is work to be done.

For documents related to the sUAS NPRM, visit regulations.gov and search for Docket FAA-2015-0150. At press time, the Recently Published Rulemaking Documents page still shows the NPRM as pending publication in the Federal Register, but a PDF of the NPRM is available.

News

FAA’s liberal proposed rules win allies in drone business

Jon Resnick, Policy and Marketing Representative in Washington for DJI says, “We are very pleased the FAA is taking a reasonable and practical approach to integrating commercial UAS into the National Air Space. We are very encouraged and stand ready to collaborate with the FAA to implement common-sense proposals as quickly as possible.”

Mark Dombroff, from law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge says, “My concern is that there will be people entering the UAS business who are attracted by the potential economics. This really requires aggressive monitoring and enforcement by the FAA to insure that the rules are observed.”

With new rules, the FAA and drone industry make up

“Drone advocates let out a collective sigh of relief as new commercial drone regulations are more industry-friendly than expected.”

Fortune says, the “FAA … is far more in tune with industry needs than many imagined.”

They call it “a promising sign.”

Matthew Bieschke, president of the UAS America Fund says, “I think the FAA has had a tremendously difficult job to do, and I think what they came out with over the weekend was surprising. It was less conservative than a lot of people in the industry thought it would be.”

Lisa Ellman, counsel and co-chair of the UAS Practice Group at the D.C. office of McKenna Long & Aldridge says, “People feared that the new process would look like the Section 333 exemption process up to and including the private pilot’s license requirement … so this is a huge, wonderful thing, this new UAS operator’s certificate. It will be relatively easy to get and will make drones broadly accessible.”

Brendan Schulman, head of the unmanned aircraft systems practice at New York City-based law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, says there are aspects of the Notice that the FAA got wrong: Limitations on academic research, night flying, and the height limitation.

Regarding drone-based delivery, Schulman says in an email to Fortune, “The proposal considers drone delivery to be air carriage subject to heightened regulatory standards outside the UAS proposal. That’s a legal distinction that made sense in the manned aircraft era but I am not sure why they are holding on to it. It strikes me as a real blow to Amazon and other companies that have been working on drone delivery projects.”

Amazon drone plans shot down by authorities

In the proposed regulations, operators of commercial sUAS must fly under “unaided” line of sight and not over people. This makes package delivery impossible. Amazon vice-president of global public policy Paul Misener told CNBC by email, “The FAA needs to begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business, and ultimately our customers. We are committed to realizing our vision for Prime Air and are prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need.”

Small UAV Coalition Applauds the FAA’S Release of the Proposed sUAS Rule as a Good First Step for Industry

In its press release, the Small UAV Coalition says, “We applaud the FAA for creating a flexible framework that appears to be risk-based, as we have advocated, and focused on the technological capabilities of UAVs, rather than simply adapting a set of rules from those currently governing manned aircraft.” And, “In particular, we support the FAA’s proposal not to require an airworthiness certificate for small UAVs, and to eliminate any requirement for a pilot to obtain manned aircraft flying experience or a medical exam.”

But the Coalition does have some issues with the proposal concerning line of sight, testing on private property, night flying, the altitude limit, and first person view.

President Obama Calls for Transparency in UAS Privacy Memo

President Barack Obama released a Presidential Memorandum to the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies: Promoting Economic Competitiveness While Safeguarding Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Video of the Week

NBC Exclusive Drone Footage Captures Frozen Niagara Falls

Capturing the beauty of the frozen falls.

UAV081 FAA Releases the sUAS NPRM

Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The FAA has finally released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for sUAS. The document contains the proposed regulations governing the commercial use of small UAVs.

In this episode, we take a first look at the NPRM and consider the proposed requirements for pilot certification, training, UAS registration, maintenance and inspection, and model aircraft. We also discuss the alternatives considered by the FAA, but not included in the NPRM, and how the public can submit comments about the proposal to the FAA.

Docket FAA-2015-0150, Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Leaked FAA Document Provides Glimpse Into Drone Regulations

Inadvertently Posted FAA Document Provides Insights Into Forthcoming Drone Regulations

FAA proposes to allow commercial drone use

 

UAV080 UAV Tracking and Avoidance

LATAS (Low Altitude Tracking and Avoidance System)

A new tracking and avoidance system, drones that assist firefighters, a Phantom firmware rollback, drone waiters that bring your meal, a personal No Fly Zone, shooting down those pesky drones, Qualcomm buys KMel Robotics, and California seeks to regulate drones below 400 feet.

News

PrecisionHawk Announces UAV Tracking and Avoidance System

PrecisionHawk released an automated traffic control system for UAVs said to aid with the integration of UAVs into the National Airspace (NAS). The “Low Altitude Tracking and Avoidance System” (LATAS) uses global cellular networks on speeds as low as 2G. to provide real-time flight planning, tracking and avoidance for UAVs.

LATAS is small (3x2x1in) and light and was developed to be plug and play or integrated into a UAV’s circuit during manufacturing.

Micro-flyer drone could help a robot to fight fires on ships

Last November, the US Office of Naval Research conducted a demonstration of its Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) along with an autonomous quadcopter drone. The robot/drone combination is intended to assist firefighters aboard naval vessels. This is under the Office of Naval Research’s Damage Control Technologies for the 21st Century (DC-21) project. The quadcopter comes from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and Sensible Machines.

This Spherical Rescue Drone Is Straight Out of Star Wars

Flyability has introduced what it calls “the world’s first collision-proof drone.” The “Gimball” search and rescue drone is spherical and bounces off obstacles to keep flying. It has a coaxial twin rotor design inside a rotating protective carbon fiber frame. In Crash-proof UAV takes out US$1 million Drones For Good Competition we learn that the Flyability Gimball took first place in the Drones For Good contest.

Unexpected issues force drone maker DJI to roll back ‘White House’ update

DJI has rolled back the geofencing firmware update for the Phantom — also known as the “White House patch” — because there have been reports of “unanticipated flight behavior.”

Drone waiters to serve patrons in Singapore restaurants

Infinium Robotics specializes “in providing autonomous UAV solutions for commercial applications.” That includes food delivery by drone in some Singapore restaurants. The rotors are completely enclosed to avoid injury and the UAVs utilize sense and avoid technology.

Singapore currently has a shortage of workers in the food industry so this is covering a real need.

NoFlyZone Lets You Establish A No-Fly Zone Over Your Property

NoFlyZone creates a GeoFence around your home after you register your property. Currently,  the service works with UAS manufacturers DroneDeploy, YUNEEC, HEXO+, PixiePath, RCFlyMaps. EHANG, and Horizon Hobby.

Oklahoma bill would allow property owners to shoot down drones without civil liability

The Oklahoma State Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 492, giving property owners the right to shoot down drones without fear of civil liability. Backers say that drones are increasingly being used by cattle thieves. This bill would protect property owners should they be sued by thieves over a shot down drone.

Qualcomm Buys Aerial Drone Startup with Advanced Control Technology

Chipmaker Qualcomm has acquired startup KMel Robotics, which specializes in multi-rotor drones. Qualcomm isn’t providing any details other than to point to the KMel Robotics website: “We are extremely excited to become part of the Qualcomm team and look forward to bringing aerial robotics to the next level together.”

KMel Robotics has produced videos demonstrating impressive flight coordination:

California’s No Drone Zones

California bill SB142 bans trespassing by drones flying below 400 feet.

Mentioned

UOIT Controls The Weather At Its Drone Testing Centre

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology has launched the ACE Centre for UAV Research.

Want to fly your drone and make a quick buck? The FAA has 33 rules for you.

UAV079 Volcano!

'GMA' Flies Drone Over Erupting Volcano Live

A drone flies over a volcano for live TV, Alibaba tests drone package delivery, more Section 333 exemptions, drones for real estate, and a poll shows Americans want regulations.

News

‘GMA’ Flies Drone Over Erupting Volcano Live

ABC’s Good Morning America television show flew two quadcopters over the erupting Bardarbunga Volcano in central Iceland. And they broadcast the video live on national TV. Eric Cheng, DJI Director of Aerial Imaging, was on hand to operate the main quadcopter while a chase DJI provided additional coverage.

The live video of the volcano was spectacular. This wasn’t a puff piece – it was a very public demonstration of using a drone for science. With last week’s drone crash on the White House lawn, and now this, public awareness of small drones is increasing.

Alibaba Package Delivery

Alibaba Beats Amazon to Drone Delivery

The Wall Street Journal calls Alibaba, “China’s — and by some measures, the world’s — biggest online commerce company.” With e-commerce activity of $248B, it’s bigger than eBay and Amazon.com combined.

Now Alibaba is conducting a three day package delivery test for customers that are within a one-hour flight by quadcopter from their warehouses in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. They’ve posted a promotional video online.

FAA Grants Eight More UAS Exemptions

Exemptions under Section 333 were issued to Total Safety U.S. Inc. for flare stack inspections, Slugwear, Inc. (dba LikeOnATree Aerial) for aerial photography and surveys. Team 5, LLC;  Shotover Camera Systems LP;  Helinet Aviation Services, LLC;  and Alan D. Purwin were given an exemption for film and television production.  This brings the total number of exemptions to 24.

At the same time, the FAA amended the exemptions previously granted to Pictorvision, Inc. and Aerial MOB, LLC to let the companies fly additional types of small UAS.

As with the last round of exemptions, “the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.”

The FAA says they have received 342 requests for exemptions from commercial entities and individuals.

UAV real estate Co. to expand nationwide following FAA exemption

Real estate video and production firm Burnz Eye View received an exemption from the FAA in January. Mark Burns started the company 3 years ago and has a team of 15 in San Diego. With the exemption, he wants to expand to cover the entire U.S. To do that, he needs pilots. Specifically, UAV operators that have private pilot’s licenses or multi-hour experience flying UAVs. An understanding of platform maintenance will also be needed.

Americans OK with police drones – private ownership, not so much: Poll

A Reuters/Ipsos online poll of 2,000 people conducted Jan. 21-27, 2015 showed that 73 percent of the respondents said they want regulations for small drones. Forty-two percent oppose private ownership of drones. They think they should be restricted to officials or other experts. Thirty percent were OK with private drone ownership, and 28 percent were undecided.

Video of the Week

Seize Des Moines

This interesting aerial tour of Iowa’s capital city was sent in by listener Bill, who raises some questions about the safety of flying in proximity to buildings and crowded events.

UAV078 Dronegate

Crashed drone photo courtesy of Secret Service

Drone crashes on the White House lawn, actors playing drone pilots, a waterproof drone swims with the fishes, fighting fires with optionally manned helicopters, a record UAS flight, drone regulations around the world, and new FAA exemptions.

White House Incursion

Obama Says US Must Catch up to Ensure Drones Are Safe

Don’t drink and drone: Bozo who crashed drone at White House had been boozing

White House Drone Raises Questions About D.C., Capitol Policy

Man Lost Contact With Drone Before It Sped to White House, Friend Says

DJI to Disable Phantom in No-Fly Zones

A government employee who works for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency lost track of the quadcopter he was flying from inside an apartment, and it landed on the White House lawn. The man, who reportedly had been drinking, turned himself in the next day after hearing about the news reports.

Apparently, the man flew a Phantom in and out of an apartment window. A friend says this quadcopter model has a flaw that causes them to fly away, and so the manufacturer is partially at fault.

DJI has responded with a software update that will disable all of its devices within a 15.5-mile radius of downtown Washington D.C. and around more than 10,000 U.S. airports.

This story has created a lot of attention in the press that raises issues including the lack of regulations and the need for security measures.

News

Anne Hathaway and Ethan Hawke both playing drone pilots—what does it mean?

Story lines with military drones are making their way into various productions. The off-Broadway, one-woman play titled “Grounded” is performed by Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway, who portrays an Air Force pilot who is assigned to fly drones. Meanwhile, the movie “Good Kill” stars Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot who questions the ethics of his job.

The New “Mariner” Waterproof Drone Video Collection

Ambient Real Life presents a waterproof quadcopter that can skim along the surface of the water and take video of the sights below.

US Interior Department, Australia eye unmanned helicopters to fight fires

The US Department of the Interior wants to investigate the use of optionally piloted helicopters for forest firefighting. They want to “assess the feasibility of utilizing these types of aircraft for a variety of missions, including, but not limited to fire suppression at night and during low visibility conditions as well as cargo delivery.” Interior is asking interested companies for an initial response.

Some existing helicopters would seem to fit the requirements:

The Kaman and Lockheed Martin K-MAX has operational experience, and on November 5, 2014 a demonstration of eight firefighting scenarios was conducted at Griffiss International Airport in upstate New York where it gathered water and doused fires. Sikorsky’s MATRIX project has tested an S-76 as an optionally manned platform.The Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout might be a possibility, but it’s a fully unmanned aircraft.

Orion UAS breaks flight endurance record on 80 hour mission

Aurora Flight Sciences says they have set a world endurance record for an unmanned aircraft system. Their Orion UAS flew for 80 hours, beating the previous official record of 30.5 hours set in 2001 by the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Thailand mulls jail term for unlicensed drone pilots

Thailand’s Civil Aviation Department is drawing up rules that would:

  • prohibit attaching cameras to drones except for business reasons
  • restrict drones with cameras to use by photographers, film-makers, and journalists
  • set a one hour maximum flight time
  • limit weight and size

The Ministry of Transport would oversee and approve applications to use drones. Violators could face a year in prison and a fine of 40,000 baht (£813; $1,229)

Queensland man first in Australia to be fined for flying a drone

If you fly your drone in a manner not allowed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), then upload the video to YouTube, your notoriety could land you a fine. In this case, $850.

CASA regulations state that hobbyists who fly for no commercial gain cannot fly their drones:

  • Within 3 nautical miles of an airport;
  • Above 400 feet in controlled airspace (large towns and cities)’
  • Over populous areas;
  • Within 30 meters of people;
  • At night.

Aviation safety: GCAA to issue drone rules

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which regulates civil aviation in the United Arab Emirates, says they are about to release regulations for unmanned aerial systems. Reportedly, the regulations will be based on weight and type of operators and will ban the use of UAVs near airports, residential areas, and public facilities and properties. A permit will be required from the GCAA, as well as coordination with the air traffic authorities.

FAA Grants Two More UAS Exemptions

The agency gave new exemptions to AeroCine, LLC for aerial cinematography, and to Burnz Eye View, Inc. for aerial photography and inspections. FAA-issued certificates of airworthiness are not needed “because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.”

Videos of the Week

First commercial drone to take flight over downtown Edmonton

Connor Burns of Skymatics flies the first drone approved for operation in downtown Edmonton on Jan. 28, 2015, a DJI Spreading Wings S1000. Video by Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal. The octocopter will be used to take video of construction projects for a design and planning firm.

Farmer uses drone to capture bird’s-eye view of ‘cow art’

What can you do with a feed truck, a drone, and a herd of cattle?

UAV077 UAS Pilot Training

Sky-Futures

UAV training in Canada and Britain, a government hearing on UAS research and development, no date from FAA on the sUAS NPRM, a UAS communications study, and drugs on a drone.

News

1st Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) instruction designed specifically to meet Transport Canada’s new requirements

Aerobotika Aerial Intelligence and Pacific Rim Aviation Academy have partnered to offer a UAV pilot training academy. The 2-day ground school course will cover the new Transport Canada Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems for UAVs under 25 kg, operating within visual line of sight.

The curriculum includes standard pilot training, technical specifics of unmanned aircraft, industry practices and regulations, UAV rules and avoiding dangerous situations. Successful students will have met the special flight operations certificate (SFOC) knowledge requirements and receive a Letter of Completion that can be submitted to Transport Canada.

Aerobotika is an aerial systems development and operations company. Pacific Rim Aviation Academy operates out of Pitt Meadows Airport (CYPK) near Vancouver, Canada.

How should licensing work for commercial drone operators? A look at Britain’s solution

In Britain, the Civil Aviation Authority has approved three companies to provide UAV training: Sky-Futures, ResourceGroup, and EuroUSC. After receiving training, the pilot must provide a manual to the CAA describing how the UAV will be used and show they have liability insurance.

Sky-Futures provides trainees with a ground school manual to study at home for a month. After that, trainees have two days of ground school and three weeks of flight training in Spain.

The ResourceGroup training starts with an online learning program, followed by two days in the classroom, one day outside flying, then a one-day exam.

Committee Examines Status of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Regulations, and Research

The U.S. Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research and Development hearing in January.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) opened the hearing to examine research and development of UAS and “provide an overview of how UAS research, development and flight tests enable the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.” Witnesses included representatives from NASA, FAA, the National Research Council, AUVSI, the Small UAV Coalition, and MIT.

Brian Wynne, President and CEO, AUVSI said, “for every day that UAS integration is delayed, the U.S. stands to lose $27.6 million in potential economic impact, according to AUVSI’s economic impact study.”

James H. Williams, the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office Manager, talked about the important role of interagency partnerships with DOD, NASA, etc. Williams noted work with NASA on, “air traffic control interoperability with the future UAS use of detect and avoid systems in controlled airspace,” and with both NASA and DOD on, “the appropriate minimum operational performance standards for UAS detect and avoid systems for UAS to remain clear of other aircraft.”

FAA Official Refuses To Give Date For UAV Rule

At the hearing, the big question was, when will the FAA issue its proposed sUAS rules? Chairman Lamar Smith asked James Williams from the FAA that question repeatedly. Williams had answers, but not the one Smith was looking for:

Smith: “Mr. Williams, when might we expect the FAA to propose some rules?”

Williams: The FAA is “doing everything we can to get that small unmanned aircraft rule out, but our main focus is to get it right.”

Smith: “When do you think you might get that [rule] out?”

Williams: “I at this point can’t give you a firm deadline.”

Smith: “Do you have a goal in mind? I mean, you’ve got a lot of people across the United States waiting. Do you have any kind of a working deadline or a working goal?”

Williams: “Our goals are to get it out as quickly as we can, as long as we get it out right.”

Smith: Is a rule is likely to come “this year or next year?”

Williams: “I can’t speculate. My own personal hope is we get it out as soon as possible, but it’s got to go through the regulatory process that has been put in place by Congress and we’re working our way through that.”

Williams added, “You’ve got to understand this is a very complex rulemaking.”

Smith: “Never mind. I can tell that I’m not going to get the answer that I was hoping for. But we’ll take your word for expediting the process….”

New unmanned aircraft research project proposed by UND to take off

The University of North Dakota plans to test “new radio communications” of unmanned aircraft beyond line of sight. The unmanned aircraft program staff at UND proposed the project, and the University’s research oversight committee approved the proposal.

UND will start with the Northrop Grumman SandShark at the Lakota, N.D., airport. Funding is with $500,000 from the North Dakota Department of Commerce and a matching $500,000 contribution from Rockwell Collins.

Meth-filled drone crashes in Mexican border town

According to Tijuana police, a hexacopter carrying more than 6 pounds of methamphetamine crashed into the parking lot of a supermarket. The DEA has reported that drones were used in about 150 drug flights in 2012 over the Mexico/US border.

Video of the Week

R/C Plane Crashes- Reveals Underwater WORLD

Footage from an RC airplane taken at The Cape Range National Park, in Exmouth Western Australia. After viewing the beautiful scenery, you’ll see the plane crash into the water and the GoPro keeps recording, capturing tropical fish and sea turtles.

UAV076 FAA Enlists Law Enforcement

Trace FLYR1

 

The FAA tells law enforcement what their role is in policing UAS usage, CNN signs an agreement with the FAA to share drone journalism research results, and drones are big at the Consumer Electronics Show.

News

FAA Issues UAS Guidance for Law Enforcement

This isn’t guidance on how law enforcement can use UAS. It’s guidance on how law enforcement plays a vital role in “deterring, detecting and investigating unsafe operations.” Specifically, FAA looks to law enforcement for:

  • Witness Identification and Interviews
  • Identification of Operators
  • Viewing and Recording the Location of the Event
  • Identifying Sensitive Locations, Events, or Activities
  • Notifying FAA of incident, accident or other suspected violation
  • Evidence Collection

The guidance document Law Enforcement Guidance for Suspected Unauthorized UAS Operations is available as a PDF.

CNN strikes drone deal with FAA

In June 2014, CNN and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced they would jointly study how to operate UAVs safely and effectively. At that time, they said they wanted to share the data from the study with the FAA. CNN has now signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the FAA that allows it to share the research data with the FAA.

CNN Senior Vice President David Vigilante said, “Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups.”

International Consumer Electronics Show Coverage

The giant, annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) gives the industry a chance to display products that are available to buy now, and concepts that you may or may not be able to buy later. As you’d expect, there were a lot of drones at CES:

Drones fly high at CES

The AirDog auto-follow drone is available for pre-order ($1,295) and is envisioned for recording extreme sports.

The GoPro-ready RTF Ghost Drone ($600) can be operated by a Smartphone app.

CES 2015: Unleash the Drones!

In a CES first, there was an Unmanned Systems Marketplace on the show floor with over a dozen companies exhibiting. The FAA was close by promoting “Know before You Fly” and handing out fliers.

The Trace FLYR1 (available for pre-order) is called, “A visually intelligent smart camera that can click in and out of a multitude of self controlled motorized accessories, allowing you to stay in the moment and stream your footage live to the internet.” It can follow you at a fixed distance by tracking a pattern on your shirt.

At one of the keynote speeches, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, shows drones from Ascending Technologies that use a depth-sensing camera from Intel. This technology finds the shortest route from Point A to Point B while avoiding obstacles in the way.

CES 2015: Why the future of drones is up in the air

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood said, “Drones are arguably the most hyped product at CES.”

There was a pink version of the Ghost Drone at CES, under the belief that the quadcopter would thus be more appealing to the female market.

DJI showed their Drone Stick, a handheld mount when you are not flying your camera. It’s compatible with the DJI Inspire 1 camera and gimbal. DJI also announced the new H4-3D gimbal, which works with the GoPro Hero4 Black camera. It also works with the DJI Phantom 2 and Flamewheel systems.

CES 2015: The drone revolution begins with AirDog, Hexo+ and Nixie

The Hexo+ drone from Squadrone System is another autonomous auto-follow drone getting a lot of attention. They call it a “self-flying camera,” but you supply the GoPro and control it through an app. Available for pre-order at $1,149.

Video of the Week

Racing in a Las Vegas Drone Rodeo — CES 2015

A Drone Rodeo put on by DJI for a day of racing and of fighting drones with the madmen from Game of Drones.

Mentioned

Coit Tower Reopens After Controversial Drone Filming

Geo-matching.com is an independent comparison website for geomatic (including precision agriculture) and hydrographic products. The UAS for Mapping and 3D Modelling category lets you compare different UAVs.

UAV075 Charge Your Drone on a Pad

Skysense charging pad

A charging pad for your drone, USAF Unmanned Systems faces a huge manpower problem, real estate and agriculture gain FAA exemptions, timeline for ICAO RPAS standards, and UAS in Canada.

News

New Charging Pad for Parrot Drones Changes the Way You Charge Your Batteries

The portable Skysense Charging Pad is said to support nearly all existing multicopters and VTOL aircraft. Plug the Pad into an electrical outlet, land your drone on the Pad, and your batteries will charge at the same rate as your regular charging cable. Pads are available in different widths and should ship next month.

Skysense also offers the Droneport, “a protective closed structure that is managed remotely and can hold a Skysense Charging Pad and your drone. It also provides synching of sensor data to the cloud and connectivity within your Skysense Droneport network.”

Drone War pushes pilots to the Breaking Point

The U.S, Department of Defense wants 61 Combat Air Patrols (CAP) per day by April 15. Each CAP requires four Predators or Reapers for 24-hour coverage. These require ten “men” per drone per CAP, for a total of forty. With a shortage of drone pilots, the crews have high workload and low morale.

FAA Grants Real Estate, Agricultural UAS Exemptions

The FAA granted two exemptions on January 6. One was to Douglas Trudeau with Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona. Their DJI Phantom 2+ quad will be used to “enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos.”

The second exemption was to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, Washington. Their fixed wing senseFly eBee will fly to take “photographic measurements and perform crop scouting for precision agriculture.”

Both still need a COA “that ensures the airspace for their proposed operations is safe, and that they have taken proper steps to see and avoid other aircraft. In addition, the COAs will mandate flight rules and timely reporting of any accident or incidents.”

The FAA has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

ICAO Panel Will Recommend First UAV Standards in 2018

The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) new Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Panel is focusing “on development of standards and recommended practices (SARPs) for adoption by the Council of ICAO in 2018 related to airworthiness, operations (including RPAS operator certification) and licensing of remote pilots.” Detect and avoid regulations are to follow in 2020.

Cameraman hit with $1,000 fine for filming with drone

The co-founder of a Canadian video and photography company that uses drones was fined by Transport Canada after a real estate shoot. He’s fighting the fine, saying that Transport Canada’s rules on flying unmanned aerial aircraft are not clear.

City man has high hopes for school for drone pilots

Buoyant Aircraft Systems International in Winnipeg wants to develop a flight school for UAV pilots. They plan to take the idea to Transport Canada’s UAV working group in April for approval, and could be teaching by August, if approved.

Video of the Week 

Coast Guard Helo takes out drone

In August 2014, a hurricane caused heavy surf off the coast of California. That brought out body surfers, boogie boarders, and surfers, along with thousands of spectators and some camera-equipped quadcopters. One of the copters didn’t fare too well in the Coast Guard helicopter downdraft.

Mentioned

50 Things You Can Do With A Drone

Some applications you’ve seen before, some you haven’t, and some you shouldn’t.

UAV074 Did you get a Drone for Christmas?

Know Before You Fly

No sUAS NPRM, “Know Before You Fly” safety campaign, it may be OK to say “drone” now, UAS America Fund proposes rules, drone privacy legislation, ICAO looks at integrating RPAS into the air space, an embarrassing UAS test center first flight, and the MQ-8C Fire Scout takes flight.

News

No Firm Date For UAV Rules As FAA, Industry Launch Safety Campaign

At 2014 year-end, we don’t have an sUAS NPRM from the FAA, but we do have many new quadcopter owners after the holiday gift-giving season.

The Know Before You Fly education campaign was founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

Booming Holiday Drone Sales Creates Unknown Safety Risk

Darrell Slaughter, Director of Business Development at the Phoenix, Arizona based Unmanned Vehicle University says “The drone industry cannot afford any mishaps at any time, especially at this stage in the industry’s life cycle. People must realize that many of the UAVs being given as gifts this year are not toys.  Many are capable of causing serious injury and damage to property. People will get hurt if these potentially dangerous devices are operated in an unsafe manner.”

Drone Defender Drops D-word Denial

Back in the day, you could get chastised for describing a UAV as a “drone.” But the press and the public have co-opted the term, and it may be time to embrace the “D-word.”

Industry Proposes A ‘Micro Drone’ Rule As Regulatory Deadline Looms

UAS America Fund proposal The UAS America Fund has filed a petition with the FAA proposing regulations for very small UAS for non-recreational purposes. This incremental regulatory approach is based on a risk analysis of FAA data, and addresses aircraft under 3 pounds and flown under 400 feet at least 5 miles from an airport.

The graphic from the UAS America Fund shows different regulatory and certification requirements for different categories of UAS missions.

West Virginia Senator proposes UAS Privacy Act

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV from West Virginia has proposed a law that would require the Federal Trade Commission to set up privacy websites for all commercial UAV operators where privacy policies are posted, including:

  • Information about the circumstances under which the UAS would be operated
  • The specific purposes for the images
  • Data and other identifying information that would be collected
  • Measures to be taken to anonymize and aggregate the information
  • Contact information

Private companies would be prohibited from conducting surveillance on individuals without their explicit prior consent.

ICAO Conducts UAS Fact-Finding Mission

At the invitation of the FAA, representatives from ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) visited the U.S. on a fact-finding mission. They wanted to look at how the U.S. is integrating manned aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). ICAO has a technical body called the RPAS Panel made up of almost 100 international state and industry experts.

1st Nevada drone crashes seconds into FAA test flight

The hand-launched “Magpie” was to be the first UAV officially flown from the Nevada test site, and the press were there to capture the event. The Governor even made a speech. The moment came, Magpie was tossed into the air, and then immediately fell to the ground. The problem was attributed to an electrical controller issue.

U.S. Navy helicopter drone’s first flight

The U.S. Navy successfully flew the MQ-8C Fire Scout system for the first time off the USS Jason Dunham. This was from a moving ship at sea.

Video of the Week

Team BlackSheep XMas Special

Published on Dec 23, 2012, this video was taken by Team Black Sheep from a flight near Paris while attending LeWeb 2012. Is this a safe flight?

Mentioned

Surge in drones as Christmas gifts will show need for greater regulation: peak body