Monthly Archives: March 2014

UAV033 Sharing the Sky

Sensefly eBee

A near miss between a UAV and a crop duster, a new social network for the multi-rotor community, UAVs that survey cemeteries, no beer delivery by drone in the UK, and a red hot video of the week.

The News:

Victorian mine drone in near miss with aircraft

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a final report that says that a Sensefly eBee 178 UAV came within about 100m horizontally and up to 70m vertically from an Ayres S2R crop duster. The ATSB rated this incident, which occurred in September, 2013, as serious. The eBee was flying a four-hour photogrammetric site survey mission over an unused mine.

Drone and Rescue Chopper Almost Collide as Drone Crashes Mount

The ATSB is investigating the incident.

Social Network for the Multi-Rotor Community in Beta Test Phase is a new social network for the multi-rotor community. You can contribute to forums and upload your photos and videos. It lists UAV groups and there is a section for pilot reviews. DronedUp also allows the creation of “pages” for content that centers around a specific topic or company. It’s free to join.

UAS Mapping of Cemeteries in the Czech Republic

Czech unmanned aerial systems company UPVISION, and the Brno City Hall, used a hexacopter and a fixed wing UAV to capture images of cemeteries. They’ve put the data into a GIS system which allows them to administrator city cemeteries.

Beer today, gone tomorrow: regulator bans booze drones

As we previously reported, the folks at Lakemaid Beer were told by the FAA that they could not commence operations to deliver beer to ice fishermen in Minnesota by drone. But what about elsewhere? In the UK, UAVs are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority CAA), under articles 166 and 167 of the Air Navigation Order 2009.

North Carolina lawmakers consider creating board to govern drone use

The North Carolina Office of the Chief Information Officer has recommended that a UAS Governance Board be created to develop UAS policy and create standards for their use and operation. Also that they approve or deny requests for drone use.

Video of the Week:

Dji Phantom flies into Volcano, sent by Todd.


UAV032 Taking Autism to the Sky

Connor with Hex

Paul Braun and Dan Frye tell us about Taking Autism to the Sky (TATTS) where children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) build and fly a small UAS. This program helps the children build confidence, gives them world perspectives, and develops interest and ability in skill sets that may help them eventually find and hold productive jobs. With April being Autism Awareness month, this is a timely conversation.

Paul and Dan work for Continental Mapping Consultants, Inc., who create authoritative geospatial data solutions.

The News:

Students using drones to learn high tech jobs (STEM)

Using UAS software from Analytical Graphics Inc., students at Ohio’s Greenon High School are preparing for modeling and simulation career opportunities. The STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is designed to expose students to today’s in-demand skills.


Above – Connor with the Hex. Below – Kids watching flight simulator, and kids observing first aerial footage.

Kids watching flight simulator

Kids observing first aerial footage

UAV031 The Wild Wild West test flies 3D Robotics Y6

An analysis of the Raphael Pirker v FAA appeal, an offensive quadcopter and conservationists look to utilize UAVs.

The News:

FAA To Appeal NTSB Finding On UAS Case

An NTSB Administrative Law Judge dismissed the charges against a UAV pilot for flying a commercial mission, but the FAA intends to appeal the decision. We talk about what that means to the sUAS industry and where the appeal goes next.

SXSW 2014: Chaotic Moon Demonstrates CUPID, a Drone That Can Tase You

The C.U.P.I.D. hexacopter (Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone) carries a gun that can shoot you with barbed Taser darts and zap you with 80,000 volts.

Of UAS and Cranes: UAS Technology Aids California Bird Conservation

Tracking bird populations is an important part of wildlife study but observing, recording, and counting birds can be very difficult. That’s where UAVs come in. looks to exploit the potential of UAVs for conservation-related applications worldwide.

Video of the Week:

World’s Most Insane Rope Swing Ever!!! – Canyon Cliff Jump, but especially see Behind The Scenes – Insane Canyon Rope Swing for more on the octocopter used to film this.


UAV030 FAA v. Pirker – Administrative Law Judge Decision

Audio transcript of NTSB Docket CP-217, FAA v. Raphael Pirker.

We reported In Episode 29 that a decision had been rendered in the case of the FAA v. Raphael Pirker, also known as Trappy in the sUAS community.

The FAA claimed that Pirker flew a Ritewing Zephyr, which they considered to be a UAS, as a commercial operation. Furthermore, that in so doing, Pirker endangered life and property. The FAA fined Pirker US$10,000.

Pirker appealed, and the NTSB Administrative Law Judge dismissed the charges on March 6, 2014.

Some of the press, as well as some UAS enthusiasts, proclaimed that this decision now lets commercial drone operations begin. We at The UAV Digest continue to believed that it’s a little premature to draw that conclusion.

There are many unanswered questions surrounding this issue, and there is an appeal process which the FAA has initiated.

We expect that we’ll be following this story and exploring the issues for quite some time. We began by studying the judge’s Decisional Order, NTSB Docket CP-217.

What we’ve done in this episode, as a first step, is create an audio transcript of the Docket.

We’ll present our analysis of the decision next time.

UAV029 Delivering the Internet via UAV

Titan Aerospace

Facebook buys a drone company, having enough communications and data bandwidth, an international UAV test consortium announced, UAV training at Roswell, busting FAA myths about UAVs, FAA authority to regulate UAS questioned, privacy questions flare down under, and Russia building Israeli UAVs.

Breaking news: Commercial Drones Are Completely Legal, a Federal Judge Ruled

The News:

Facebook Follows Amazon, Google Into Drones With $60 Million Purchase

Facebook is reportedly purchasing Titan Aerospace for $60 Million. Titan Aerospace makes high altitude solar-powered UAV’s that they refer to as persistent solar atmospheric satellites.™

Facebook is a partner in, along with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera and Qualcomm. Their objective is to bring everyone in the world with a smartphone into the “knowledge economy” by making Internet services 100 times more affordable.

Accomplishing that means reducing the volume of data served by ten times, and reducing the cost to serve that data by ten times. That’s where Titan comes in.

Drones seen driving spectrum sharing technologies

We talk a lot about the UAS regulations the FAA needs to establish, but there is something else that has to be figured out. All those military and commercial UAVs slated to cloud our skies need com links, and that means enough spectrum has to be available.

International Consortium of Aeronautical Test Sites For UAVs Announced In Quebec

An International Consortium of Aeronautical Test Sites has been created to share information on operational safety, flight regulations, and operational experiences.

This is intended to enable development, testing, and certification of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). The Consortium also looks to support creation of international standards for UAS/RPAS construction. Other centers are expected to join the Consortium.

The Consortium was announced by the UAV test and service centre (CESA) in France, the Oklahoma State University – University Multispectral Laboratories, the National Aeronautical Centre in Wales, and the Unmanned Aerial System Centre of Excellence in Quebec, Canada.

Roswell selected as drone plane training center

Strategic Aerospace International is setting up a drone pilot training center in Roswell, New Mexico, starting with 30 Air Force academy graduates in a three month program. SAI has the curriculum at 48 colleges and universities, but needs the airspace to fly the UAVs. They’ll use the Northrop Grumman SandShark UAS.

Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

The FAA wants to dispel some of what they consider to be “misconceptions and misinformation” about UAS regulations. Things like control of airspace, what commercial flights are allowable, and can the FAA police all this? So they’ve published a list of seven myths and the “real” facts.

Myth #1: The FAA doesn’t control airspace below 400 feet
Fact: They do.

Myth #2: Commercial UAS flights are OK if I’m over private property and stay below 400’.
Fact: A 2007 Federal Register notice says no.

Myth #3: Commercial UAS operations are a “gray area” in FAA regulations.
Fact: There is no gray.

Myth #4: There are too many commercial UAS operations for the FAA to stop.
Fact: The FAA is watching and has appropriate enforcement tools

Myth #5: Commercial UAS operations will be OK after September 30, 2015.
Fact: Congress mandated that the FAA come up with a safe integration plan by that date. Regulations, policies, and standards will come incrementally.

Myth #6: The FAA is lagging behind other countries in approving commercial drones.
Fact: The U.S. is not like the rest of the world. We have a very busy airspace and we need to get this right.

Myth #7: The FAA predicts as many as 30,000 drones by 2030.
Fact: That’s an old outdated number. Now the FAA estimates 7,500 sUAS by 2018

Free the Beer Drones: Maybe the FAA doesn’t have the authority to regulate unmanned aerial vehicles.

The author believes the U.S. Code and regulations that give the FAA authority, do not define UAVs, so they have no authority. And even if the FAA does have authority, it has not published the documents required to regulate UAVs. Regulatory and statutory law requires public scrutiny and input, and the FAA hasn’t done that.

AFP using drones to investigate major crime as questions raised over privacy

A parliamentary inquiry is looking at drones and their use by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The AFP maintains use has been limited, like at crime scenes, and admits that covert surveillance would require a warrant. But the Office of the Privacy Commissioner says it has been getting inquiries from the public about the use of drones.

Warplanes: Russia Builds Israeli UAV

After seven years of negotiations and trials, Russia has begun production under license of the Israeli Searcher 2 UAV.

Video of the Week:

Autonomous drones flock like birds


Williams Foundation calls for fast-tracked UAVs