UAV100 Looking Back and Looking Ahead

David and MaxWe look back at the first 100 episodes, and ahead to the next 100. We also talk with Curator Roger Connor from the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum.

The First 100 Episodes

The UAV Digest was started as a spinoff of the Airplane Geeks podcast, with Episode #1 published on August 16, 2013. David and Max wanted to explore the exploding unmanned aircraft industry and communicate the positive uses for “drones.”

Early conversation topics included the desire of many to begin commercial operations in areas such as real estate, precision agriculture, search and rescue, disasters and humanitarian relief, package delivery, and many more.

The slow regulatory process in the U.S. came up over and over, but so did examples of unsafe use of UAVs by operators who didn’t know any better.

We did see the FAA step up with the launch of the UAS test centers, an exemption process, and finally the proposed regulations in the form of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

The Next 100 Episodes

David and Max then mention some of the topics that we’ll likely be talking about in the future. These include the next steps in the rulemaking process, creating awareness about safe operation, advancements in technology such as sense and avoid, and exciting applications for unmanned aircraft.

Guest

Roger Connor

 

Roger Connor is curator for Vertical Flight at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. We spoke with Roger at the Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. He tells us about some new additions to the unmanned aircraft collection, and those that were turned down. Roger also gives us a peek at some of the future acquisitions, including an Insitu ScanEagle and the Draganflyer X6 that was the first police UAV in the U.S.

Video of the Week

A drone just hit my plane this morning

This video purports to show a multicopter striking an airliner and breaking off a winglet. In his post Drone Hits Airliner, visual effects man Bruce Branit admits it was a stunt. Drone Strike on Snopes confirms.

Mentioned

Hobby Drone Prevents Firefighting Aircraft From Flying Over California Wildfire

Thanks

Special thanks to @dronemama for doing the show notes and WordPress maintenance. Thanks also to our great sponsors, GoEngineer and UAV Propulsion Tech. We also appreciate the support we get from those of you who have become patrons of The UAV Digest.

UAV099 Multirotor Racing

A multirotor racer, post crashGuest Chris Thomas from MultiGP talks with us about the sport of FPV multirotor racing.

Guest

Chris Thomas is the founder of MultiGP, a grassroots racing organization with a mission to make FPV multirotor racing a real sport. With over 30 chapters in the United States, MultiGP provides the rules, equipment, and software for FPV racing.

Jeremiah from Stone Blue Airlines (L) Chris (R)

Jeremiah from FPV supplier Stone Blue Airlines (L) and Chris Thomas (R)

We talk with Chris about what you need to get started, how much you can expect to spend to compete in FPV racing, the rules that ensure event safety, and the formula for scheduling events. MultiGP is focused on helping other people establish racing in their area, so we talk about finding land and forming chapters so people have an outlet and a place to fly.
Chris is an entrepreneur and avid pilot who lives in Florida. He spends most of his days either flying, working on MultiGP, or with his family.  In the past he has traveled the US as a catastrophe insurance adjuster during major storms and has started several successful companies.  For fun, Chris flies powered parachutes, drones, and single engine fixed wing aircraft. An interesting fact is that he once flew a powered parachute to 16,000 feet in Florida! Chris hopes to die doing something exciting so that in the afterlife people will enjoy hearing his story about how he got there.

FPV Racing Resources

Videos of the Week

FPV Drone Racing in Florida – MultiGP April 18

Florida Drone Racing Team Explores Cool Building – MultiGP

FPV Danger Zone 60FPS

UAV098 HeliVideo to Provide Footage at U.S. Open

The HeliVideo fleet

HeliVideo to cover U.S. Open, commercial drone market share, China uses drone to catch cheaters, using TV signals to sense aircraft, a Google drone patent, and UAS full type certificates.

News

How FOX Sports will use drones at the U.S. Open, and why the FAA is watching

FOX Sports is using octocopters from Austin-based HeliVideo to cover the golf championship at Chambers Bay. HeliVideo says they provide “FAA approved cinematography for television and film.” The HeliVideo fleet includes a Small Sensor Hexacopter with a Panasonic Lumix GH3, a Full Frame Octocopter sporting a Canon 5D Mark 3, an EPIC 6k Dragon Octocopter, and an EPIC 6k Dragon Single blade helicopter.

For the golf tournament, HeliVideo is bringing a four-man team and more than $1 million in equipment — including the DJI Spreading Wings 1000 drone. HeliVideo received their exemption last September. An authorized, licensed pilot will fly the drones, while a visual observer will keep tabs on the devices at all times.

Forty eight percent of commercial drone platforms in the USA made by DJI

sUAS News reports that DJI has 48.4% of the “commercially licenced platforms” in service. AeroVironment follows with 12.1%, 3DR with 7.6%, and Precision Hawk with 3.9% This is from a total population of 380 platforms.

Authorizations Granted Via Section 333 Exemptions

This list from the FAA shows Petitioners, Grant Issue Date, Operation/Mission, and the Authorizations document.

China Uses a Drone to Curb Cheating on College Placement Exams

The National College Entrance Exams in China are critical to the future success of the 9.5 million students who take the 2-3 day test. This has led to cheating schemes where students send exam questions out to others, who then transmit answers back to the student.

Now Chinese education authorities are fighting back with a drone. It flies over testing centers and scans for signals being sent to devices brought in by students. The drone is reported to be about the size of a gas station pump and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

TV signals a possible alternative to radar

Air traffic control company NATS has been working with Thales and contract R&D company Roke Manor to see if television transmission signals could be used to detect and direct aircraft. In a trial conducted over London, more than 30 aircraft were tracked at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet.

Google Working On Fleet of Drone Ambulances To Save Your Life, Reveals a Newly Granted Patent

Google was granted United States Patent 9,051,043 titled “Providing emergency medical services using unmanned aerial vehicles.” It provides for a fleet of UAVs configured to: identify remote medical situations, determine the target location, select a UAV with the proper configuration, and deploy the UAV to the target location to provide medical support. Sounds a lot like the Amazon drone delivery patent.

FAA Working Eight UAS Full Type Certificates

A type certificate would allow a UAS manufacturer to fly the aircraft throughout U.S. airspace. Larger UASs like the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle and AeroVironment’s Puma fly under type certificates issued in the Restricted category. Experimental type certificates have been issued to other UASs which generally prohibit commercial uses. There are no type certificate requirements for UASs under 55 pounds.

Mentioned

Expert: Drones Causing Major Aviation Disasters Is ‘A Question Of When It’s Going To Happen, Not If’

David provides expert opinion to CBS DC.

UAV097 Drone Lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht

Boeing patents drones that can be charged midair, from PatentYogiConversation with drone lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht, a NASA and Verizon UAS tracking system, the Google Internet HALE drone crashes, and Boeing patents a drone charging concept.

Guest

Jonathan Rupprecht, Esq.In December 2014, Jonathan Rupprecht formed Rupprecht Law, a firm providing legal services for operators of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Jonathan authored a book on the law in the United States pertaining to unmanned aircraft called Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them. He later was an advisor for one of the amicus briefs for the Huerta v. Pirker case.

We talk with Jonathan about the state of drone law, areas that need to be figured out (like export control, frequency allocation, federal versus local jurisdiction), and what lawyers can offer (such as support for building the business plan.) Jonathan discusses how issues like privacy might already be covered under existing laws, the open issue of navigable airspace, and the notice and comment process.  We also consider building safety awareness among the general drone-flying public.

Jonathan Rupprecht is a commercial pilot for single and multi-engine aircraft ratings and also a flight instructor for airplanes and instruments. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Magna Cum Laude, and a Juris Doctor from Florida International University School of Law.

The first book led into him being requested to be a co-author on an American Bar Association book called Unmanned Aircraft in the National Airspace: Critical Issues, Technology, and the Law. Jonathan wrote on administrative law, the FAA rule making process, and the special rule on unmanned aircraft.

News

NASA Developing Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management

NASA and Verizon plan to monitor US drone network from phone towers

The NASA Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management system, or UTM, is a  cloud-based concept to manage air traffic operated beyond visual line of sight at low altitudes. UTM Principal Investigator Dr. Parimal Kopardekar says, “We need a way to organize the UAS traffic, whether that’s by crisscrossing or with a bike lane or HOV lane kind of construct. The system can make these things happen based on demand. UTM is a virtual system.”

To learn more, the Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents and learned that last year telecom company Verizon signed an agreement with NASA “to jointly explore whether cell towers … could support communications and surveillance of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at low altitudes.”

Google’s High-Flying Internet Drone Crashed in New Mexico Weeks Ago

The Solara 50 drone built by Google-owned Titan Aerospace crashed shortly after takeoff. The solar powered, 50 foot wingspan drone is designed to linger at 65,000 feet and provide Internet connectivity. The NTSB is investigating.

Boeing patents system for airborne drone charging

The Boeing patent is titled, “Autonomous aircraft with disconnectable tether” and describes a system where drones drop tethers to ground-based charging stations.

Video of the Week

Sky Pixel LA – SBC Flooding Part 1

Listener Heath sent in the link to this video showing some of the flooding around the Shreveport, Louisiana area. It’s a very artistic portrayal of a very serious situation. Part 2 is more of a look at the effect of the flooding on people.

Mentioned

Here and There June 3, 2015 Max Flight

Max appeared on the KSFR 101.1FM, Santa Fe Public Radio show, Here and There with journalism pro Dave Marash. They talked about drones, applications, regulatory issues, privacy, and more.

Enrique Iglesias Undergoes Hand Surgery After Drone Accident

Singer Enrique Iglesias catches a quadcopter with his hand in his act. Things didn’t go so well for Iglesias in the Tijuana performance.

Extreme Sandbox

Extreme Sandbox in Hastings, Minnesota opened an extreme adventure attraction called RC Adventure where visitors can operate DJI Phantom 2 drones on obstacle courses.

UAV096 DOJ Drone Privacy Guidelines

The SpriteDOJ privacy guidelines for agencies using drones, dumb drone flying, a drone-only store, interesting Kickstarter drone projects, NOAA says don’t mix drones and whales, drones as a tool for football practice, and a drone film festival.

News

What the Justice Department’s New Drone Rules Mean for Your Privacy

On May 22, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice announced agency-wide guidelines that set standards for the domestic use of UAS. These apply to the United States Marshals Service, FBI, DEA, and ATF.

In its announcement, the DOJ says, “The policy highlights protections of privacy, civil rights and liberties and makes clear that UAS use must be consistent with the protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution.  Justice Department components are barred from using UAS solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment, and components can only operate UAS on properly authorized investigations and activities.  The collection, retention and dissemination of information collected by UAS is also subject to Privacy Act protections.”

Here’s Some of the Dumb Stuff People Did With Drones Last Year

Last November the FAA released a list of 193 incidents of “drone misbehavior” reported to air traffic control officials in 2014. Incidents reported to law enforcement were not included so the actual count is most likely higher.

Drone Crashes, Hits 2 People During Marblehead Parade

A drone flying over a Memorial Day parade in Massachusetts lost control, crashed into a building, and hit two people – a woman on the shoulder and a man on the back of the head leaving some minor cuts. According to a police report, the drone operator was very apologetic and embarrassed. The FAA is investigating the crash.

Drones-only store opens in Beaverton

Beaverton Town Square in Oregon is now home to Drones Plus, a business featuring DJI drones. The store manager says they’ve had 1,500 people come in over the course of about three weeks. Drones Plus opened its first retail venture 1 1/2 years ago in Las Vegas, and now has stores in Los Angeles, Seattle, Toronto, and Studio City, California.

Meet Aexo and Sprite, New Rugged Camera Drones That Look Like Something Else Entirely

Two Kickstarter projects caught our attention:

  • The Sprite is a portable, rugged, vertical tube UAV with counter-rotating rotors. It’s waterproof and floats, with a high impact airframe and a high-def camera on a 1-axis gimbal. A 2-axis GoPro mount is available. From Ascent Aerosystems.

NOAA Says Drone Pilots Can’t Film Endangered Whales

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put us on notice: Approaching by any means within 500 yards of a species “protected under the Endangered Species Act and the regulations governing Endangered Marine and Anadromous Species” is a violation. That includes using a drone to take video of a North Atlantic right whale, which someone did and posted on YouTube.

A NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent said, “We try to take an education and outreach approach and ask for people’s cooperation before we move forward with any enforcement action. The video itself could actually give the impression that it’s okay to engage in that type of behavior.”

He also said, “If you cause the animal stress, cause a change in its behavior, or cause the animal to try to interact with the drone, you run the risk of breaking the law.”

Cowboys Using Drones In Practice

The Dallas Cowboys football team is using drones to film practice sessions. This replaces the “old” method of using handheld cameras on the sidelines and end zone.

InterDrone Film Festival Announced

Video captured with a drone is to be judged in six categories: Natural Wonders, Cityscapes and Architecture, Action Sports, Acrobatics/Technical Skill, Storytelling, and Reel. The festival includes a People’s Choice Award in each category plus an overall Best in Show, which carries a Grand Prize of $2,000 or equivalent drone. Winners will be announced at InterDrone, the International Drone Conference and Exposition being held September 9-10-11 at The Rio in Las Vegas.

The show will feature special events (including a keynote with Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and founder of DIY Drones) and networking opportunities as well as industry panels and two technical programs: Drone TechCon for builders, Drone Flyer for drone flyers and buyers, as well as Drone Business for the opportunities the market has to offer.

Video of the Week

The moment territorial goose swipes drone out of air

A goose attacks a drone flying over the Oudorperpolder area in Alkmaar, northern Netherlands. Seeing the drone as an intruder, the goose attacks the machine.

Mentioned

getwell

The special video created for David.

UAV095 A Hydrogen Powered Quadcopter

Horizon Unmanned Systems HycopterA drone powered by a fuel-cell, UAS use policy for police, a defensive anti-drone system, UAS training at a community college and at Textron Systems, a backup system for GPS, and the Commercial UAS Modernization Act.

News

Hycopter Drone Flies for 4 Hours via Hydrogen Power

The Hycopter drone from Singapore-based Horizon Unmanned Systems (HUS) uses a hydrogen fuel cell for power. Four liters of hydrogen are stored in the hollow frame, and are converted to electric power to run the motors. This power source saves weight and allows a four hour flight time, two and a half hours with a 2.2-pound payload.

Police chiefs group offers drone-use policy

In 2012, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Aviation Committee created Recommended Guidelines for the use of Unmanned Aircraft [PDF]. Since then, the Association has worked to develop policy which covers drone deployment, restrictions on use, data retention, and training.

Three UK companies to develop new anti-UAV defence system

Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics, and Enterprise Control Systems are developing a fully integrated anti-UAV defence system (AUDS). This system combines Ku band electronic scanning air security radar, a stabilised electro-optic director, infrared and daylight cameras, and target tracking software. The AUDS also utilizes a directional radio frequency inhibitor and jammer system.

The new system is intended to address threats from malicious micro, mini, and larger UAVs at ranges of up to 8km in remote sites or urban areas and operating from fixed locations or mobile platforms.

Sinclair receives first community college FAA UAS exemption

The FAA has granted a Section 333 exemption to the Sinclair UAS Training and Certification Center. The exemption allows Sinclair Community College in Dayton Ohio to conduct commercial training and research and development in areas such as sensor integration and testing. It also lets the college expand their commercial focus on precision agriculture, geospatial information, and first responder training.

The Training and Certification Center also intends to publish a Journal of Unmanned Aerial Systems twice a year as an online peer-reviewed publication

Textron Systems Launches Unmanned Systems Training Catalog

Textron Systems Support Solutions has announced an unmanned systems training catalog with a range of unmanned systems coursework. The curricula included classroom and hands-on training using customized materials and training aids. They’ll tailor the training to your language, skill level, platforms, and applications. Training can be delivered to your choice of location for both military and commercial missions.

US Weighs UAS-Friendly GPS Backup System

Girish Chowdhary, an engineering professor at the Oklahoma State University, explains that GPS “…is not a very high integrity signal” and can easily be jammed or overpowered. Enhanced Loran (or eLoran) would cover the continental United States with a low-frequency navigation signal. eLoran signals are 1.3 million times stronger than GPS signals, and nearly impossible to jam. This system is already operating in Europe and parts of Asia.

Senators Booker and Hoeven Introduce the Commercial UAS Modernization Act to Streamline Drone Integration

On May 12, 2015, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act. This would establish an interim rule governing sUAS operations until the regulations proposed in the NPRM are finalized.

The act gives the FAA some flexibility on visual-line-of-sight (VLOS), and reduces the regulatory burden for commercial operators. It also creates a new Deputy Associate Administrator for Unmanned Aircraft at the FAA. The intent is to streamline the integration of UAS in the United States.

Video of the Week

Flood rescue drama in Johnson County

A DJI Inspire 1 delivers a leader rope to a family trapped in their home by flood waters.

Mentioned

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international digital-rights organization, produced a map of the United States showing 81 public entities that have applied for FAA drone-use authorizations.

Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display

Be sure to join us at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display (formerly Become a Pilot Day) June 20, 2015 at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA next to Dulles Airport. Bring your family and friends to this amazing aviation event. We’ll be in the Museum at the Airplane Geeks banner and we’d love for you to stop by and say hello!

Skywalker FPV, Getting wet in the clouds

A drone flies up above the clouds into airspace where it should not be.

UAV094 The Amazon Patent for Package Delivery by Drone

Amazon Patent 20150120094Amazon patents package delivery by drone, using drones to plant trees, a new Israeli UAV company, another manned aircraft maker goes unmanned, and the Arctic becomes a no drone zone.

News

Here are Amazon’s plans for delivery drones

Amazon Technologies, Inc. of Seattle, Washington was awarded Patent 20150120094 on April 30, 2015. The patent “…describes an unmanned aerial vehicle (“UAV”) configured to autonomously deliver items of inventory to various destinations. The UAV may receive inventory information and a destination location and autonomously retrieve the inventory from a location within a materials handling facility, compute a route from the materials handling facility to a destination and travel to the destination to deliver the inventory.”

Drones to repopulate forests, 1 billion trees at a time

BioCarbon Engineering of Oxford, England-based is planning to use drones to assist in populating the world’s forests. Scout drones survey the area to create a 3D map, then drones with pressurized air canisters launch and shoot biodegradable pre-germinated seed pods into the ground. The drones are designed and built by VulcanUAV and designed to carry the heavy load of seeds and delivery hardware.

Meteor, New Israeli UAV Company

Yitzhak Nissan, the former president of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), has formed Meteor, a new company that wants to develop “a new breed” of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Israeli Ministry of Defense said that Meteor is planning to demonstrate an affordable UAS with a maximum takeoff weight of about 350 Kilograms.

Sonex Enters UAV Market

Kitbuilt airplane maker Sonex Aircraft is collaborating with Navmar Applied Sciences Corp. (NASC) to research, engineer, and produce UAVs for the U.S. Defense Department. The first project is named Teros and will be based on the Xenos motor glider, powered by the AeroVee Turbo 100 hp piston engine. First prototype delivery is planned for June, 2015.

[AECO] Bans use of UAV’s in the Arctic

If you take an Arctic cruise with a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), you will not be able to bring and use UAVs when visiting the Arctic.

NASA Cohosts Forum on Managing Expanding Unmanned Aerial System Traffic

NASA and the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) are partnering to co-sponsor the 2015 Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management (UTM) Convention, July 28-30, at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Convention speakers are to include­­ NASA and FAA executives, industry thought leaders, innovators and stakeholders. Exhibits and flight demonstrations will feature the latest developments in unmanned aerial systems technology, and how they will impact the future of low-altitude flight.

Video of the Week

NASA Greased Lightning GL-10 prototype

Ten-Engine Electric Plane Completes Successful Flight Test

NASA Langley researchers designed and built a battery-powered, 10-engine remotely piloted aircraft. The Greased Lightning GL-10 prototype has a 10-foot wingspan and can take off like a helicopter and fly efficiently like an airplane. In this video, engineers successfully transition the plane from hover to wing-borne flight in tests at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

Mentioned

PhoneDrone: Let your smartphone be your personal drone

PhoneDrone is a Kickstarter project which turns your your smartphone into a quadcopter. Two versions are planned: one RTF and one where you 3D print the frame.

 

UAV093 AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference

The WATT tethered drone

News from the 2015 AUVSI Conference, including the Pathfinder Program where the FAA partners with industry to develop commercial UAS technology.

AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) held its Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference May 4-7 in Atlanta, Georgia.

At the Conference, the FAA announced the “Pathfinder Program” which it called “a partnership with industry to explore the next steps in unmanned aircraft operations beyond the type of operations the agency proposed in the draft small unmanned aircraft systems rule it published in February.”

Speech – “UAS Pathfinder Program Announcement Press Conference”

Press Release – FAA-Industry Initiative Will Expand Small UAS Horizons

In his speech, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, “We’re partnering with three leading U.S. companies who have committed extensive resources to perform research that will help us determine if and how we can safely expand unmanned aircraft operations in the United States. These companies reached out to the FAA to work with us on exploring three key types of unmanned operations.”

The industry partners and three focus areas are:

  • Visual line-of-sight operations in urban areas. CNN will look at how UAS might be safely used for newsgathering in populated areas.
  • Extended visual line-of-sight operations in rural areas. This concept involves UAS flights outside the pilot’s direct vision. UAS manufacturer PrecisionHawk will explore how this might allow greater UAS use for crop monitoring in precision agriculture operations.
  • Beyond visual line-of-sight in rural/isolated areas. BNSF Railway will explore command-and-control challenges of using UAS to inspect rail system infrastructure.

Huerta said, “We anticipate receiving valuable data from each of these trials that could result in FAA-approved operations in the next few years. They will also give insight into how unmanned aircraft can be used to transform the way certain industries do business – whether that means making sure trains run on time, checking on the health of crops, or reporting on a natural disaster.”

On the NPRM, Huerta commented on the number of public comments received, noting that it will take time to address them and finalize the rule. The Pathfinder Program is designed to expand expand the use of unmanned aircraft in the meantime.

PrecisionHawk to work with FAA on UAV extended line-of-sight safety

PrecisionHawk will formulate a framework for fixed wing and multirotor UAVs for missions in agriculture, forestry, and other rural industries. PrecisionHawk will also test its LATAS (Low Altitude Tracking & Avoidance System) traffic management system.

AUVSI: New tethered UAV for CNN

CNN announced that it will become the launch customer for the Drone Aviation Corp WATT UAV.  This tethered drone that can take power from the tether and simultaneously transmit data back to the ground. The electric quadrotor is activated with a mobile tablet and can hover at up to 300 feet for 8 hours.

Tim Trott Interview with Jay Willmott

At the AUVSI Conference, Tim Trott from Southern Helicam caught up with Jay Willmott, Founder and President of unmanned technology consultancy Nexutech.

Vortex UAS

A conversation with Vince Donahue, the Founder and President of Vortex UAS. Vortex provides tailored solutions for businesses utilizing UAS, including pilot training, consulting, and other services. This is a condensed version of the full interview originally published in Episode 347 of the Airplane Geeks podcast.

Videos of the Week

Surf the world’s most extraordinary waves with drone videos

Shot by photographer Eric Sterman with a GoPro on a Phantom 2 during two days at the “Jaws” surf break on the North shore of Maui.

Good Morning, San Diego!

The scenes in this video were captured around sunrise over a period of four months. Shot using a GoPro HERO3 Black Edition camera mounted on a DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-3D 3-axis gimbal.

UAV092 Smith College Takes Drones to the Public

 

Smith College:  Drones in the BackyardSmith College presents drones to the local community, a droner gets tased, and surveillance drones at London airports.

Commercial Drones in Our Backyards and Communities: How New FAA Rules for Unmanned Aircraft Could Impact the Pioneer Valley

Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts conducted a presentation introducing the public to unmanned aircraft. The free March 4, 2015 event featured three speakers from the College, a display of small UAVs, and even an indoor flight demonstration.

Speaking for Smith College were:

The audience had an opportunity to learn what drones are and the many good uses to which they can be put, including Smith College research to map coral reefs in Belize. The current regulatory environment was explained, including the impact on academic institutions and the community at large.

After the event, we recorded an interview with Paul Voss and Jon Caris which includes how academic research is treated as a commercial operation, the anticipated Air Lab, student interest in unmanned aircraft, and NPRM concerns and issues.

Links

Picker Engineering Program

Research by Smith College Students and Faculty – Including mapping coral reefs in Belize.

Commercial Drones in Our Backyards? – The event webpage.

Event Flyer [PDF]

@AIR_lab on Twitter, the Aerial Innovation and Robotics Lab

Academic Safety Code for Small Airborne Objects on Institutional Property – The SAO Safety Code was developed by researchers in science and engineering from colleges and universities across the United States. It is intended to guide non-commercial teaching and research activities as well as the common recreational uses of model aircraft, kites, and other SAOs on college and university campuses.

News

Father chased down and TASED by ranger for flying his drone in national park while his terrified daughter screamed ‘leave him alone!’

A man takes his quadcopter and family to visit the lava lake at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and ends up getting tased.

London airport police to use surveillance drones

The National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters has determined that surveillance drones are a “transformative” technology. After a successful test at London Gatwick airport, drones will be deployed at Heathrow, Stansted, Luton and City airports over the next 18 months.

Videos of the Week

Drone Footage Shows Nepal Earthquake Damage

Drone footage recorded over the Nepalese capital Kathmandu shows the scale of destruction following a major earthquake.

Nepal earthquake: Drones used by Canadian relief team

The Toronto-based humanitarian organization GlobalMedic is using three UAVs to collect thousands of high-resolution photographs of the area. GlobalMedic founder and executive director Rahul Singh says, “We’re cross-stitching thousands upon thousands of images onto maps. And they show us everything.”

UAV091 Here Come the Lawyers

ECA Group Mini UAVLaw firms step up to UAVs, DARPA enlists Northrop Grumman and AeroVironment for TERN, the MQ-4C Triton UAS gets new search radar, the X-47B refuels autonomously, agricultural applications for UAVs, an anti-drone drone, detecting drones by sound, and the FAA clarifies policy for drone online videos.

News

US firms rush to set up drone departments

Michael Drobac is executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, but also the senior policy advisor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He says, “’Almost every firm has a drone practice. I’m not sure every firm has a drone client.”

273 Drone Aircraft Carriers? New DARPA Contract Could Be a Game Changer

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants the Navy to be able to launch MALE-class drones from ships at sea. Under the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node, or TERN program, Northrop Grumman and AeroVironment have been selected to compete the next phase of the program and create systems where unmanned aircraft “take off and land from very confined spaces in elevated sea states and … to transition to efficient long-duration cruise missions.”

Triton UAS conducts first flight with search radar

The Navy’s MQ-4C Triton UAS has completed its inaugural flight with the new Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) search radar. The radar has all-weather capability and provides a 360-degree view of a large geographic area. When operational, the Triton will dwell at high altitudes and provide 24/7 ISR coverage virtually anywhere in the world.

Fueled in flight: X-47B first to complete autonomous aerial refueling

X-47B completes first autonomous aerial refueling

On April 22. 2015 the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) of an unmanned aircraft was accomplished with the X-47B. This completed the final test objective under the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstration program. The aerial refueling was captured on video.

Researchers Seeking Agricultural Applications For Unmanned Aircraft

The University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center recently hosted the HLB Grower Day and UAV Applications in Agriculture Workshop to look at future applications of UAVs in agriculture. The workshop was coordinated by Dr. Reza Ehsani, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

Noting that commercial operations are not yet generally allowed by the FAA, Ehsani said, “It will take at least a year until the proposed rules go through all of the approval process. So, we are probably looking to be able to use UAVs under these regulations sometime in 2017.”

Yet research continues:

  • Spain’s Institute For Sustainable Agriculture is conducting research on crops using quad-rotor UAVs taking images to discriminate between crops and weeds.
  • The University of Central Florida developing a UAV to inspect plants in fields in conjunction with a ground robot. A quadcopter collecting less expensive lower resolution imagery identifies potential problems and sends the ground robot in for a more detailed inspection.
  • The University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab is developing a concept where swarms of hummingbird-sized autonomous UAVs fly close to the ground to map the environment. In research conducted in California, a UAV flew between 26 rows of citrus trees and counted 479,395 fruits.

France’s anti-drone drone can spot malicious pilots in under a minute

In response to the number of suspicious drones flying over Paris landmarks, French firm ECA Group has a solution: an anti-drone drone. It chases down rogue drones, triangulates the location of its pilot, moves in to photograph the offender, and notifies the police. ECA won’t say how it works.

The low-tech anti-drone technology at the Boston Marathon today involves net guns and text messages

Massachusetts State Police declared Boston a no-fly zone for drones during the recent Boston Marathon. To help enforce the ban, officials utilized the DroneShield drone detection and warning system. DroneShield uses “acoustic detection technology” to listen for the telltale sound of a drone.

FAA Backs Off On UAS Videos

On April 8, 2015 the FAA sent a policy notice to Aviation Safety Inspectors on the subject of Aviation-Related Videos or Other Electronic Media on the Internet. [PDF] The notice states, “Electronic media posted on a video Web site does not automatically constitute a commercial operation or commercial purpose, or other non-hobby or non-recreational use.”  Inspectors “are expected to use critical thinking when addressing electronic media” that shows potentially noncompliant activity.

The FAA will use education to encourage voluntary compliance and provided a “UAS Informational Letter Template” for Inspectors when a written notification is needed.

Volz Launches New DA26-D Redundant Servo for Demanding UAV Applications

German company Volz Servos has released its new fully redundant DA 26-D actuator for high reliability applications. The actuator, electric motors, control and communication electronics, and power supply are all redundant. Also, there are integrated sensors that provide diagnostic information like current consumption, supply voltage levels, and temperature readings.

Video of the Week

Watch This Homeowner Shoot Down a Drone Flying over His Property

In this report from Inside Edition, we see a homeowner shoot down a drone over his property. But is it real or is it a promotional stunt? Is it unauthorized commercial use and reckless discharge of a firearm? Will the authorities respond?