Monthly Archives: February 2014

UAV028 The Size of the UAV Market


The size of the global UAV market, more on the FAA losing the drone war, a device that tries to warn you about drones overhead, ignorant politicians passing drone laws, a military UAV providing cargo lift, police use a quadcopter in a murder investigation, and other police shut down a journalist.

The News:

Small UAV Market Worth $582.2 Million by 2019

MarketsandMarkets published Small UAV Market Global Forecast, 2014 – 2019 that projects the small UAV market will grow to $582.2 million over a six year time period. This represents a global compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.7 percent.

FAA risks losing drone war

sUAS usage is growing in the face of relatively low multi-copter prices, growing awareness of drones, and more and more creative uses. While the FAA tries to control the situation, some people in the U.S. liken this to the Wild West. The FAA wants to get this emerging technology right and keep the aviation system safe. “We expect to publish the small UAS proposed rule for public comment later this year.”

DroneShield warns of low-flying UAVs with 18 nations demanding the device

The crowd-funded DroneShield is a device that let’s you know when a drone is nearby. Intended to be a privacy protection device, DroneShield uses a sensitive microphone and an inexpensive Raspberry Pi computer to listen for the audio signature of a drone.

My view: The hysteria over the domestic use of drones

Legislating technology can be a bit dicey. Often the legislators have a poor grasp of the technology. That’s not stopping States in the U.S. from introducing bills aiming to regulate UAVs.

ARES Aims to Provide More Front-line Units with Mission-tailored VTOL Capabilities

Ground-based transportation can be difficult for the military in many situations. The Transformer program from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) proposed a UAV as a solution. The Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) would use an unmanned VTOL aircraft to move supplies.

In a first, Tamil Nadu police use UAV in murder probe

In what is thought to be the first such use of a UAV in India, police used a quadcopter in a murder investigation. They flew it over a brush-covered crime scene that was otherwise inaccessible. Besides searching for evidence, they intended to create a 3D image of the crime scene.

Lawsuit Filed In Connecticut By Journalist Over UAV Use

A journalist claims the Hartford Connecticut police prevented him from using his UAV to take pictures of an automobile crash scene. The police say he was interfering with their investigation. He says the police violated his First Amendment right to free expression, and his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizures. A suit has been filed in U.S. District Court.

Videos of the Week:

DJI Phantom Chasing Florida Powerboats Club
Netflix Drone to Home


UAV027 Policing UAS Use

Elbit Systems Hermes 900

A DJI Phantom watches baseball spring training, FAA policing UAS usage, Canada wants to buy drones, so does the Russian military, and Korea seeks to be a UAS supplier.

The News:

Nationals using aerial drone to record footage of spring training

The Washington Nationals baseball team is observing spring training through the eyes of a GoPro mounted on a DJI Phantom. They say they’ll also use aerial footage on the scoreboard for games.

Runaway Drones Map Land, Film ‘Wolf,’ Knock Down People, as FAA Gives Chase

The FAA takes a dim view of UAVs and has notified many operators to cease operations. Some people are ignorant of the FAA policy. Others are aware but ignore it. Even others believe their activities are allowable. But is it even possible for the FAA to police the use of UAVs?

Heron, Reaper and Hermes 900 Compete for Canada’s Arctic mission

Canada wants an an advanced system for operation in the Arctic. Under consideration are the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron unmanned air system, General Atomics Reaper, and Elbit Systems Hermes 900.

Russian Defense Ministry Unveils $9B UAV Program
Russia delays testing of UAE’s United 40 Block 5 UAV

The Russian military operates 500 drones, and they expect to spend 320 billion rubles (US $9 billion) by 2020 for more. Russian President Vladimir Putin is a big supporter of UAVs and believes Russia needs to develop combat and reconnaissance variants.

Singapore Airshow 2014: KAI promotes Devil Killer UAV as maritime weapon

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is marketing the “Devil Killer” internationally to acquire a first customer that will put the UAV into production. Intended to loiter above potential targets, this “tactical suicide combat UAV” would be operator-guided to the target, crash into the target, and detonate its 2 kg payload.

Video of the Week:

Building Tensile Structures with Flying Machines – Quadcopters with spools of rope weave tensile structures. (Submitted by Colin Sweetman.)

FAA and the UAVs An opinion piece by Tim Trott

Which of these photos is “legal”? Which one represents an illegal “commercial use” of a UAV? 

Which of these photos is legal

Was the UAV controlled by a hobbyist or a commercial photographer? Does one represent more safety than the other? Obviously both are the same picture, and that is exactly the point. (And it is NOT for sale).

The FAA’s current approach to the UAV revolution, and it is a revolution, is like catching the tiger by the tail, and the FAA only plans to catch up with the tiger ….in a few years. Or so.

That was demonstrated in a recent survey report that found some people who claimed they didn’t know anything about the FAA’s position and others who were unconcerned or even defiant. Some of those enjoying “unregulated” hobby use of UAVs brag about how high and far they can fly, clearly outside of the FAA’s “recommendation” for visual line of sight under 400 feet. Airline and helicopter pilots continue to express serious safety concerns, while comments on the other side tend to minimize any real dangers and the unlikely event of an encounter between a UAV and a commercial aircraft… even in the face of reports of several “close calls” reported by pilots. None of this will improve with time.

In the meantime, don’t look for any mention of the FAA anywhere on web sites of the manufacturers or companies selling UAVs. My own communication with B&H Photo, a well respected professional photography store, gave clear indication that they have no interest or any intention of including anything about any restrictions in the US, while describing their products as “Designed for professional photography”.

Of course not! A caution could affect sales to people like me who learned about the FAA’s unwritten rules against “professional use” only AFTER my purchase arrived. They did offer a refund, but would still not consider or discuss a caution message on the web site.

FAA staff members are apparently spending a lot of time scanning you tube channels and web sites looking for “commercial” users of UAVs and sending out random warnings and a few Cease and Desist orders. It would be a much less daunting task to find the companies SELLING them and request that they include logical safety precautions either packed with the products or sent emails to those who have already purchased them. However, there remains the untenable distinction between commercial and hobby use.

While commercial users, it could be argued, might be more concerned about being liable for damages, the hobbyist is thinking more about enjoying the sport of flying. But they both need to stay out of air traffic lanes, stay below 400 ft, and exercise reasonable caution with regard to public safety.

There is no logical basis for the restriction against commercial use. Hobbyist or commercial, either way the operator can cause damages or injuries. The FAA’s position has done little to affect the explosion in UAVs being used.

My sneaking suspicion is that the FAA’s hesitation is less about safety and more about UAV’s threat to the manned aerial photography business.

There is a simple and obvious solution to this situation and it is this:

The FAA could and should IMMEDIATLY provide for LIMITED INTERIM registration for all UAVs, defining the 400 ft stipulation, cautions against flying over people and so on. The FAA should also provide the guidelines to retailers selling to US citizens, requesting that the guidelines be included on retailer web sites and distributed by the UAV community.

That’s the ONLY logical solution and there is no good reason to wait until 2015 and hundreds of reasons not to wait being sold every month.

The use of UAVs will continue to grow. Waiting until there are many more thousands of them in the air years from now is not a logical course for the FAA. The FAA needs to face the fact that the bird is already out of the nest. So to speak.

Tim Trott

UAV026 FAA Falls Behind UAS Mandate Schedule


FAA progress in meeting the UAS mandate, an update on plans at the Griffiss International Airport UAS test site, a former United States governor is hiding from the drones, a system to monitor river environments, maintaining UAS control in the airspace with satellites, and drones at the Olympics.

The News:

FAA reports on drones and NextGen

Hearing reveals FAA behind on NextGen, UAS, consolidation

A Congressional hearing was held to check on the progress made by the FAA in meeting the roughly 200 mandates of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The FAA is behind schedule on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and integration of UAS into the national airspace system.

Experts explain drone plans at Griffiss

A panel has described the activities expected at the UAS test site at Griffiss International Airport in upstate New York. This site is a partnership between Griffiss and the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR) based in Syracuse.

Testing at Griffiss will begin around April 1, with a focus on agricultural, not military applications. Flyterra (@Flyterra on Twitter) will be the first commercial flyer of drones at the base, and they expect to test for about eight months.

Jesse Ventura Freaks Out CNBC: I’m ‘Off the Grid’ So ‘Drones Can’t Find Me’

Jesse Ventura is a former professional wrestler, Minnesota Mayor and Governor, actor, and current host of the Conspiracy Theory television series. He says he’s “gone off the grid” down in Mexico. Why? So the drones can’t find him.

Marsupial robotic system enables environmental monitoring of rivers

A system that combines a multi-rotor UAV with an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) has been developed for environmental monitoring of rivers. The “Riverwatch” system automatically measures conditions above the water, below the water, and on the surface.

The six-rotor UAV is based on the VBrain from the Italian company Virtualrobotix. It uses open-source control software and hardware, and has a FLIR Quark 336 thermal imaging camera equipped with a GoPro Hero 3 WiFi camera, and a webcam.

Europe To Demonstrate Space-Based UAS Airspace Integration

The DeSIRE project (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems in Europe) looks to test UAS control via satellite communications. The European Defense Agency (EDA) and European Space Agency (ESA) will cooperate to demonstrate that UAS can operate commercial and government missions beyond radio line-of-sight using satellite-based command-and-control data links.

Drones Buzz Sochi

UAVs are providing HD video of Olympic events for television broadcast.

Video of the Week: DJI Phantom – Niagara Falls

From the Listener Mail:

Andreas Raptopoulos: No roads? There’s a drone for that

Renault unveils mini-SUV equipped with a QUADCOPTER DRONE

Security camera captures National Corvette Museum sinkhole as it forms


UAV025 Drones in Dangerous Environments


Drones for defense says Navy, the CPB Predator B russels up a conviction, drones go nuke, a quadcopter that thinks its a Falcon, the AMA and FAA come together, and spotting a fire.

The News:

Bring on the Countermeasure Drones

Rethinking the drone as a defensive weapon rather than offensive. The UCAV can be used to protect the Carrier Battle Fleet while manned systems take on the offense. Also, the drones can act as deception device to fool sea skimming missiles. This is not a new idea – the ADM-20 Quail decoy would be dropped from a B-52 and to radar would look like 3 B-52s in formation.

Predator drone helps convict North Dakota farmer in first case of its kind

After an armed standoff over cattle rustling, the County Sheriff requested that Customs and Border Protection monitor a 3000 acre farm. The Predator B ( CPB Reaper) gathered enough evidence to arrest and convict the suspect.

Drones used to measure radiation in Fukushima nuclear plant

The tsunami that devastated Japan and killed thousands of people also took out the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The resulting radiation leak exceeds levels that are safe for humans. The Japanese Atomic Energy Agency and the Japanese Space Exploration Agency have developed a fixed-wing drone to monitor radiation levels.

Drone with legs can perch, watch and walk like a bird

Multicopters generally don’t have sophistocated landing gear. After studying bird landings, Vishwa Robotics in Brighton, Massachusetts has developed legs modeled after the American Kestrel.

AMA/FAA sign memorandum of understanding

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have agreed to collaborate on safe operation of model aircraft in the national airspace.

Fire In Branford Quarry; Evacuation Order Lifted

Firefighters use a quadcopter to evaluate a fire near a dynamite stockpile.