Monthly Archives: November 2013

UAV016 From Jellyfish to Global Hawk

ADCOM Systems United 40

This Episode:

UAS applications in Alaska, an autonomous drone with a robotic arm, a European “drone club” is formed, Turkey eyes the European drone market, a middle-eastern drone company gets some traction, a small UAV that thinks it’s a jellyfish, the Global Hawk achieves a milestone, and journalists flock to UAVs.

The News:

UAV industry takes off in Alaska

With its remote areas accessible only by air, Alaska is a ripe environment for UAVs: remote sensing, airborne surveillance, wildlife management, sea ice study, and many others. Alaska hopes to become one of the FAA test sites.

Helicopter drones level up, gain belly-mounted robotic limbs

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has attached a robotic arm to the underside of a small autonomous helicopter. They hope to accomplish tasks that humans can’t reach. DLR would like to create a fleet flying robots with arms that could work in small teams for construction and repair tasks.

Euro-UAVs: Europe opens ‘drone club’ to compete with US, Israel

Some European Union countries have banded together to advance their capabilities with Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drones and become less reliant on the U.S. and Israel.

Turkey’s Drones Look to Europe, Middle East for Sales

Turkish Aerospace Industries is talking with European governments about their Multi-Role ISR UAV Systems, like the ANKA Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV System, which have been used by the Turkish Air Force for three years.

Adcom Systems has Three Customers for United 40 MALE UAS

United 40Abu Dhabi-based ADCOM Systems produces a number of UAVs, target drones, and support systems. The United 40 has been sold to three unnamed customers, and is designed for strategic missions, such as combat and battle damage assessment, intelligence and reconnaissance, border protection, and humanitarian aid.

Flying Jellyfish Robot May Be The Next Generation Of Surveillance Drones

Man has always mimicked birds, insects, and other animals to create flying machines. A New York University researcher has now developed a small flying device based on the motions of a jellyfish. VIDEO: A Tiny Mechanical ‘Jellyfish’ That Flies.

First War Mission for RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk

For the first time, an RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk has flown into a war. This Block 40 HALE is different in that it uses an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to provide Synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) data to combatant commanders.

Drones Offer Journalists a Wider View

CNN, the Associated Press, News Corporation, the BBC, and others have discovered that drones can be invaluable journalistic tools – typically for good uses, but not always. VIDEO: Drone flies over debris fields left after Ilinois [sic] tornado.


Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones” by Craig Issod, published June 10, 2013. A good overview for beginners. Available in paperback or as an eBook.

UAV015 Going Fishing for Hammerheads and UAVs

Blue Bear iStart

This Episode:

UAV market growth in the Middle East, Piaggio’s Hammerhead, China sends a UAV toward Japan, autonomous drones in Peru, foam drones, and more UAV crashes, including one fished out of the sea.

The News:

As UAV Market in Middle East Grows, US May Look to Draw Back

Driven by border protection concerns, UAV growth in The Middle East is projected to grow to $3.8 billion over the next decade, with that region accounting for 8 percent of the world market.

MALE Performance Enhancement: Piaggio’s P.1HH Hammerhead UAV

We spoke previously of the P.1HH Hammerhead based on the Piaggio P180 Avanti II business turboprop. The Hammerhead may challenge U.S. and Israeli dominance in the Medium Altitude Long Endurance category. A successful Hammerhead first flight occurred mid-November at Italy’s Trapani “Birgi” Air Force base.

China Unleashes UAVs Against Japan

Similar to the U.S. Predator, the Chinese BZK-005 UAV approached Okinawa airspace in September. Japan responded by scrambling interceptors. The BZK-005 then turned back, but both sides say they’ll shoot down any UAVs that violate airspace.

Flying robot will provide a unique view of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystem

The density of the Peruvian tropical forrest hampers scientists from studying the 390 billion trees that annually absorb 1.5 billion metric tons of C02. The solution: autonomous drones. Two are being considered, an octocopter with a 20 minute flight time, and a fixed wing drone with a flight time over an hour.

Dubai Police introduced to hand-thrown drone at Airshow launch

The autonomous iStart UAS is “unfolded, shaken and thrown into the air with a ground control station to log in details about where it’s meant to look and land,” according to UK producer Blue Bear. This makes it more easily used by operators who do not know how to fly drones.

Malfunctioned drone hits US Navy ship during Navy training exercise

A BQM-74 series target drone manufactured by Northrop Grumman was lost while the USS Chancellorsville was conducting a combat weapons system test. Two sailors suffered minor burns. A few days before that accident, an MQ-9 Reaper crashed into Lake Ontario, about 12 miles from shore.

Trawlers capture drone off Turkey’s Black Sea shore

A Turkish Aerospace Industries “Turna” (crane) drone was netted by fishermen around six nautical miles off the coast of the Türkeli district. This UAV has a wingspan of about 2.5 meters.

Post Photo: The Blue Bear iStart.


UAV014 FAA Releases UAS Plan and Roadmap

AVS Products to Regulate UAS Operations

This Episode:

We parse the recently released and much anticipated FAA reports on Unmanned Aircraft Systems:

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Comprehensive Plan: A Report on the Nation’s UAS Path Forward [PDF]

The Plan outlines the path for integration of civil UAS into the National Airspace System. It seeks to transition from individual approvals to a standard process integrated into the NextGen environment. High-level strategic goals provide for public integration leading to civil integration for both small UAS (under 55 lbs.) within visual line-of-sight, and all other UAS.

The Plan is required under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, and was developed by the FAA Joint Planning and Development Office under the guidance of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) Senior Policy Committee.

Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap [PDF]

The Roadmap outlines the tasks, assumptions, dependencies, and considerations needed to enable UAS integration into the NAS. The Roadmap looks at three “perspectives:”

1. Accommodation. Near-term accommodation of access to the NAS on a case-by-case basis.

2. Integration. Establish UAS threshold performance requirements that increase access to the NAS. Near- to mid-term with implementation of sUAS rule, mid- to far-term for other UAS.

3. Evolution. All required policy, regulations, procedures, guidance material, technologies, and training are in place and routinely updated to support UAS operations in the NAS operational environment as it evolves over time.


UAV013 Sally French is the Drone Girl

Sally French's Pink Y6 Copter

This Episode:

Guest Sally French, also known as Drone Girl, uses aerial photography from drones to tell a story. She also works in multimedia production at 3D Robotics.

Sally still flies her original DJI Phantom copter with a mounted GoPro camera. She has built her own 3D Robotics Y6, and she looks forward to their Iris. We talk about using drones for journalism and other applications, where to go to learn about drones and how to fly them, and how to get started. As Sally says, “It’s a great time to be in drones.”

The News:

“Crash Happy” Gimball UAS Bounces Off Obstacles

The “Gimball” has a spherical roll cage with a gimbaled copter inside and an accelerometer. It can recover from collisions with objects and proceed toward along it’s specified path.

Get the feeling we’re being watched? Pierce Brosnan is filmed kissing Salma Hayek on beach by drone camera

Hollywood has discovered the utility of cameras on multi-copters to film movie scenes. Besides Brosnan and Hayek in the upcoming movie How To Make Love Like An Englishman. Other movies include Skyfall, Oblivion, Man Of Steel, Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Hunger Games, The Dark Knight Rises, and Iron Man 3.

Post Photo: Sally French’s pink Y6 copter.

UAV012 We Want Drone Safety Rules



This Episode:

Drone safety rules, an affordable Piaggio MALE UAV, a drone incursion that turns out to be birds, the Taranis UAS makes it’s first flight, VTOL UAVs, the Aussie CASA threatens fines, the impact of UAVs on the NextGen ATC system, and looking at drones to deliver cargo in Africa.

The News:

No Seat Belts Required: Drone Hobbyists Talk Safety

Hobbies grow up and then the hard questions come up. Like when do you start to make rules? The FAA is working on regulations but at the local levels, authorities don’t know what to do.

Piaggio touts Avanti-based UAV as European MALE solution

Italian airframer Piaggio believes there is a market for an affordable medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned air vehicle. They have displayed a mock-up of their Hammerhead intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft based on the Piaggio P180 Avanti II twin-pusher business aircraft.

What IAF thought were Pakistani drones turned out to be migratory birds

India and Pakistan do not enjoy the best relationship, and airspace incursions are treated seriously. So when India detected the approach of unmanned aircraft, they scrambled the Air Force, which found nothing. A mystery. It turns out that with a strong tailwind, migratory birds can fly at high speeds.

BAE Taranis Makes First Test Flight in Australia

BAE Systems had a successful maiden flight of their stealthy Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator.

Hybrid VTOL UAVs – Back to the Future

The Aerovel Flexrotor is the first autonomous launch and recovery of an unmanned aircraft from an unmanned boat. The Flexrotor takes off vertically, then transitions from rotor-borne to wing-borne flight.

The Aerie design harkens back to the 1944 Focke-Wulf Triebflügel (thrust-wing) where the wings spun like a rotor for vertical flight then transitioned to a propellor for horizontal flight.

CASA warns bushfire drone operators of potential fines

The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority says two remotely piloted drone flights over wildfires in Lithgow and the Blue Mountains put firefighters at risk, and looks to have breached the Civic Aviation Safety Regulations, which state that remotely piloted aircraft must be kept 30 metres from people unless otherwise approved.

UAS Tidal Wave to Hit Future ATC Systems

At the Aviation Week NextGen conference, one panel looked at Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in light of the DOT report Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Service Demand, 2015-2035 [PDF], prepared for the U.S. Air Force. The report projects large numbers of UAS’s in the airspace, but this was not contemplated when NextGen was originally envisioned.

Can Cargo Drones Bring E-Commerce To Africa?

Countries that lag technologically sometimes leapfrog other more advanced economies. Perhaps the African continent has the opportunity to leapfrog the rest of the world and utilize drones to as a transportation method for goods. The Swiss École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is launching what they are calling the Flying Donkey Challenge, where teams create unmanned cargo aircraft to fly around Mount Kenya.