Monthly Archives: October 2013

UAV011 The You In UAV Digest

DJI FlameWheel550

This Episode:

The “drone” word, a Cathedral view by quadcopter, Australia’s CASA regs on UAS, Trappy in trouble, a UAV Challenge, a must-see video of autonomous flying, and bad uses of UAVs, all from the listener mailbag.

The News:

We Are Not Drones Pilots: sensor operators put human element in RPA operations

Capt. Blain, a 29th Attack Squadron MQ-9 Reaper instructor pilot assigned to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, cringes at the term “drone” because it implies no human piloting. He prefers “remotely piloted” because there is a pilot, a sensor operator, tactical intelligence, and a ground commander involved.

Listener Mail:

Parker recorded Highland Cathedral (Performed and filmed at Fish Church, Stamford Ct.) with his UAS hexacopter.

Ben Jones notes that CASA in Australia is being proactive with UAS and sends some CASA links:

  • Unmanned aircraft systems – You are a UAS operator if you conduct air work – this includes commercial tasks (hire and reward), demonstrations, training, R&D, flying for company internal purposes, etc.

On our Facebook page, Ben posted a link to “Trappy versus the FAA (an opinion-piece rant)” on YouTube. This was recorded by XJet. “Trappy” is Raphael Pirker from Team Blacksheep who does First Person Video (FPV). Rafael received a $10,000 fine from the FAA for flying his drone for money “in a careless or reckless manner,” reportedly close to civilians, structures, even through a tunnel with moving cars.

Listener Ben is also thinking about entering the UAV Challenge, specifically the Search and Rescue contest, which is designed “to demonstrate the utility of Unmanned Airborne Vehicles (UAVs) for civilian applications. The competitors will be required to develop a UAV that could save lives by quickly and cost effectively delivering medical supplies to critically ill patients in the Australian Outback.”

Steve in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is building a quad copter to be equipped with a Gopro camera. He intends to start off flying it RC, but he’s already thinking about how to make it fly autonomously. Steve sends a link to an amazing TED talk and demonstration, The astounding athletic power of quadcopters by roboticist Raffaello D’Andrea.

Micah asks, “how long before UAS technology is used in an attack against the USA?” Cat notes that the positive possibilities of UAV’s always push hard against concerns of misuse and loss of privacy.

Tony sent a link to Mystery drone collides with Sydney Harbour Bridge which reports that a quadcopter crashed into the Bridge and triggered a terrorism alert.



UAV010 HAPS, LADs and Chicks

Astrium Zephyer

This Episode:

The Zephyer High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite, lethal autonomous drones, policy recommendations that make UAVs safe for civilians, the X-47B wins an award, and a mother hen and friendly chicks UAS.

The News:

Solar Powered High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite Successful Test Flight

EADS company Astrium successfully completed the first flight of Zephyr, a solar powered High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) which holds a world record for flight endurance – more than two weeks at altitudes in excess of 70,000 feet.

Why America Wants Drones That Can Kill Without Humans

A lethal autonomous robot, or LAR, would make drone targeting decisions without human intervention. The idea is such a system would be less emotional and more accurate than a human operator, with less collateral damage.

Civilian Safety Crucial in World of UAVs

Isaac Asimov on Throne by Rowena Morrill

Isaac Asimov on Throne by Rowena Morrill

This looks at the need to regulate unmanned aerial systems used by the military and law enforcement to ensure civilian safety and privacy. Five policy recommendations are offered:

1. Apply the laws of war to UAS.

2. Respect international law and country sovereignty.

3. Do not violate the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.

4. Fully-autonomous UAS should “respect the laws of war when used militarily and the liberties of citizens when used by law enforcement” even in the event of malfunction.

5. No domestic surveillance “in violation of the Constitution and of domestic and international law.”

X-47B Wins Popular Mechanics Magazine 2013 Breakthrough Award

The Navy Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) Program’s X-47B aircraft received one of the Popular Mechanics 2013 Breakthrough Awards, calling it the “Navy’s Smartest Jet.”

UAV Concept: Mother Hen and Friendly Chicks

Canadian company Eqquera proposes SQ-EQQ, a concept where a “mother hen” autonomous delta-wing UAV is loaded with “friendly chick” UAVs that can be deployed on their own missions.

UAV009 It’s Raining Drones

Hermes 450

Hermes 450

This Episode:

A Manhattan man almost struck by Quadcopter, Conoco Phillips broken Eagle, Israeli Hermes drone crashes, wine and drones don’t mix or do they?, “game on” for a wildlife conservation challenge, the US decides no drones in Iraq but OK in Japan, and the Mounties start training the Aussies on UAS usage.

The News:

Drone reportedly plummets dozens of stories and crash lands on busy Manhattan streets

The subtitle is “Local cops didn’t follow up but the pilot likely violated federal regulations.” A small drone came down in the City, missing the pedestrians but landing close to one. He took the SD card, gave it to a local network station, and contacted the police. They told him no law had been broken.

Giant Leap Falls Short? ConocoPhillips ScanEagle crashes

One of the first two commercial sUAS permits granted by the FAA, has resulted in a crash. The second ConocoPhillips Scan Eagle flight has resulted in a crash, reportedly due to an engine failure.

IAF drone plunges into the sea

Israeli Defense force Hermes 450 Falls out of the sky. The early assessment is engine failure. The MALE drone has a history of Engine failures and is the third one lost in over two years. Made by Elbit Systems, the Hermes is powered by a UAV Engines Limited Wankel engine.

Drones + Wine: how UAVs can help farmers harvest grapes

3D Robotics brought autonomous, fixed-wing planes and multi-rotors with a point-and-shoot camera mounted inside to a family-owned vineyard. Images were taken automatically based on GPS location, and stitched together, generating a 3D model.

Wildlife Conservation unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Challenge

Kashmir RoboticsKashmir-Robotics is hosting the Wildlife Conservation unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Challenge with $65,000 in cash prizes. The wcUAVc aims to foster “innovation and invention in the design, fabrication, and utilization of unmanned aircraft to assist with counter poaching and illicit wildlife trafficking.”

U.S. Rules Out a New Drone War in Iraq

In a continuing effort to counter opposing forces, the Iraqi government welcomes lethal drone strikes, but U.S. Government policy is shifting.

Agreement will allow U.S. to fly long-range surveillance drones from base in Japan

The U.S. and Japan have signed an agreement to allow operating the Global Hawk surveillance drones from Japanese bases. Two or three Global Hawks are to fly in the Spring of 2014 “near North Korea” and complement spy satellites.

RCMP shares secrets with Aussies

The Queensland, Australia police have visited the Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police as part of a worldwide Winston Churchill Fellowship study on the use of UAVs in policing. After visiting many countries, the Aussie cop was impressed by Canadian use of UAVs.

UAV008 The FBI Uses Drones

U.S. Customs and Border Protection drone

This Episode:

U.S. Justice Department reports on it’s use of drones by the FBI, BATF and others, an online multi-player UAV game, a NASA competition to demonstrate UAS capabilities (with a cash prize!), a map showing which States have anti-drone laws, reverse engineering a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, and qualifications for UAS pilots.

Justice Department Spent Nearly $5M on Drones

The Inspector General of the U.S. Justice Department released a report showing that the Department’s agencies have spent close to $5 Million on unmanned aircraft since 2004. The FBI alone has spent more than $3 million, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) has spent almost $600,000, and $1.26 million has been awarded to at least seven local police departments and nonprofit organizations.

Real UAV Virtual Reality Game Project

“Zone” is a multi-player online game that is looking for funding through Indigogo. The idea is that modified R/C planes would be remotely controlled by three teams, each with two players who control their fighter. Teams have a mission plan, a destination, and a dog fight along the way.

UAS Airspace Operations Challenge and The Challenge is On: Team Registration Open for NASA-DPI Unmanned Aircraft

This is phase 1 of a NASA Centennial Challenge Program with $500,000 in prizes. Competitors will demonstrate UAS technology and capabilities that are critical to their integration into the national airspace. Hosted at the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center & Test Complex at Camp Atterbury Range, near Edinburgh, Indiana and taking place from 28 April – 2 May 2014.

Map: Is your State a No-Drone Zone?

With drones to eventually enter the commercial airspace in the U.S., some States have passed anti-drone legislation out of concern for public privacy and safety. This map shows which States have no such laws, which have laws restricting use by private citizens, which have laws restricting use by law enforcement, and which have both.

Commander: Iranian RQ-170 to Have Maiden Flight Soon

Lockheed Martin RQ-170 SentinelAn Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander says an Iranian version of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel will make its maiden flight in the near future. This is the drone the Iranians captured in 2011 and they claim to have reverse-engineered the technology.

The Future of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Pilot Qualification [PDF]

@onthefly305 Tweeted a link to a Journal of Aviation / Aerospace Education & Research paper that looks at qualification of UAS pilots. The only current printed requirements come from the 2008 FAA Interim Operational Approval Guidance.

The author believes that “UAS Operators and pilots could be incorporated into the National Airspace System under current regulations that govern pilot qualification, by modifying the standards and classification currently used by the U.S. Department of Defense. The FAA needs to make only minor changes to the existing Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and certify UAS operators by using type ratings.”


DARPA Tactical Technology Office, Hydra