Monthly Archives: March 2016

UAV139 Too Many Drone Parts and Not Enough Drone Pilots

The Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System — or CRACUNSAn online “junk yard” for UAVs and components, the drone pilot shortage, a UAS detect and avoid display project, UAV airspace integration in the UK, the US Senate version of FAA reauthorization, egg drop drones, LiPo batteries, and the CRACUNS submersible drone.

News

This Online ‘Drone Junk Yard’ Lets UAV Owners Swap and Exchange Parts

UK Drone builder Andrew Spaxman founded Drone Junk Yard in January 2015 as a place where enthusiasts could buy, swap, and sell unwanted UAV parts. Starting with a closed, country-specific Facebook group for the UK, Spaxman has expanded to groups for the United States, the EU, Canada, and Australia.

UAV pilot training struggles continue

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Further Actions Needed to Fully Address Air Force and Army Pilot Workforce Challenges [PDF]. In it, the GAO says the USAF and US Army haven’t implemented all the recommendations made in its 2014 report. These particularly relate to the shortage of pilot instructors and pilots.

FAA hand picks Horsham pilots to help refine UAS detection display

The FAA wants to develop a UAS detect and avoid display for unmanned aircraft systems at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Eight pilot volunteers have been selected from the 111th Attack Wing for the project.

FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute research psychologist Kevin Williams said,”Our task in this study is to look at the displays used to provide the pilot with the information that is required for them to remain well clear of other aircraft. Basically, what we’re talking about is the minimum information requirements for those displays.”

UK calls for realistic approach to UAV integration

The UK wants to permit beyond line of sight UAV operations at all altitudes by 2020, but the Department for Transport (DfT) wants to be sure that regulations are robust and realistic. Paul Cremin, head of UK aviation operational safety and emerging technologies at the DfT said, “This is a disruptive technology changing the way we think about aviation, but we have to be realistic about safety and security.”

In conversations with the public, the dFt found that there is faith in state-controlled UAVs, confidence in most commercial operators, and concern about drone hobbyists. The public expects registration, geo-fencing, age restrictions on use, mandatory insurance, and licensing of retailers.

A full report on the dialogue with the public is to be issued in April, followed by public consultation in June, leading to a UK government strategy on permitting operations later this decade.

Senate bill calls for certification of unmanned aircraft

The U.S Senate version of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 would establish a kind of “type certification” for UAVs, requiring all small UAS to meet design and production standards within one year. Manufacturers would have to certify compliance. Random production samples would be tested, and manufacturers would provide a sample of the UAV to the FAA for review.

The Senate version also calls for:

  • An “aeronautical knowledge and safety test” for operators (including model aircraft pilots). Exempted would be aircraft under .55 pounds, and pilots under 13 years of age who fly under the supervision of an adult who has passed the test.
  • FAA to create within 2 years a new operating certificate for unmanned aircraft package delivery operators.
  • Nine months for the FAA to establish a rule for micro UAS (under two kilograms, or 4.4 pounds) with no pilot’s certificate requirement
  • Nine months to develop standards for UAS operations by institutions of “higher education.” If the FAA misses the deadline, the institutions can operate as model aircraft.

Drones to drop Easter eggs on Cherry Hill

The Impacting Your World Christian Center plans to host Egg Drone Drop events for kids in Cherry Hill and Philadelphia. Thousands of candy-filled eggs will fall from FlexRight Solutions drones.

Video of the Week

Flying demo highlights commercial potential of drones in Wales

In March 2016 at Wales’s Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, a weeklong event was hosted by QinetiQ in partnership with the Welsh Government and Snowdonia Aerospace LLP. They demonstrated how drones could help tackle environmental issues and other commercial challenges. The demonstration consisted of two scenarios; one exploring the use of drones in fisheries protection, and the other in managing the threat to the Welsh coast from erosion and flooding.

Mentioned

New UAV Can Launch from Underwater for Aerial Missions

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, have developed the Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System — or CRACUNS.

LiPo Battery Videos

Lipo Battery Fires are Real

LiPO Spontaneously catches on fire at EZDrone

Turnigy LiPo Battery Explosion and Fire in my House

Respect Your Lipos  Part 1 – Lipo Fire

LiPo Failure and Fire

Small LiPo Fire – Lucky…

 

 

UAV138 Blanket Drone Approval for New Section 333 Exemptions

Aerotain Skye droneA significant change for Section 333 holders, a carrier-based aerial-refueling system, mapping with UAVs, a drone that romps in the crowd, using drones for health care, extrapolating birdstrike data to drone strikes, an unmanned underwater vehicle, and a fuel cell-powered drone.

News

UAS: blanket approval granted for 1,120 drones . . . But only going forward

In the past, Section 333 exemption applicants had to list the makes and models of all UAS intended for use. If an exemption holder later wanted to fly a different UAS, an amendment was required. Now, however, newly granted exemptions say there is a:

“… list of Approved Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) under Section 333. The list, which is updated monthly, is posted at www.regulations.gov under docket number FAA-2007-3330. The petitioner is also authorized to operate any UAS on that list, when weighing less than 55 pounds including payload while this exemption is valid.”

The current list dated March 4, 2016 “Approved Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Make/Model under Section 333 – March 4, 2016 (Corrected)” [PDF] has 1,120 UAV makes and models, from the “3D Robotics Aero” to the “Zeta Science Buffalo FX79.”

The FAA says, “It includes UAS readily available for purchase as well as those built by petitioners which are not available for purchase from retailers.”

US Navy descoping stealth requirement for Stingray tanking UAV

The Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program was originally envisioned to create an unmanned intelligence and strike asset. The Pentagon has now changed the program into the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS) to create an unmanned carrier-based aerial tanker called the MQ-25 Stingray.

3D Robotics partners with Sony on a drone that can map the world in 3D

3D Robotics is partnering with Autodesk and Sony on a project that uses a modified Solo drone to scan a location and create a 3D map. The model or map would be uploaded while the drone is in the air, which would then be available to others offsite. The system uses the soon-to-be-released Sony UMC-R10C camera, and will come with a Sony tablet preloaded with Autodesk’s FORGE software. 3D Robotics says it is planning to introduce a multispectral and thermal camera, hardware specialized for scanning agricultural sites, chemical plants, and oil rigs.

Drone meets blimp for crowd-friendly UAV

Aerotain had developed the helium-filled Skye drone to be used safely in crowds of people. The 3-meter diameter sphere has four motors to maneuver it almost like a flying eye. The Skye has a two hour flight time, and the rotor blades are not exposed, making it safe to use in a crowd. Applications include audience engagement at events, advertising, and live event HD video streaming.

Using drones to save lives in Malawi

10,000 children died of HIV-related illnesses in Malawi in 2014. There are only eight labs in the country that can test blood, and since many of the children live in remote villages, the samples are often transported by motorbike over dirt tracks. Now, in partnership with Unicef, a drone from California-based Matternet is being used in an experiment to deliver blood samples quickly and autonomously by air.

We talked about Matternet in UAV103 Matternet Tests Autonomous Package Delivery, July 2015 when freight carrier Swiss WorldCargo announced that testing had begun using the Matternet ONE drone for small package delivery.

New Research Suggests the FAA Exaggerates the Threat that Drones Pose to Airlines

Two researchers from George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia wanted to find out if drones really pose a risk to the airspace. So the researchers examined 25 years of data from the FAA’s wildlife strike database and published the results of their study in Do Consumer Drones Endanger the National Airspace? Evidence from Wildlife Strike Data.” Their conclusion:

“Although aircraft collide with birds many thousands of times per year, only a tiny fraction of those collisions result in damage to the aircraft, much less human injuries or deaths. The most serious reported incidents typically involved flocks of large birds. Since the addition of UAS to the airspace is similar in many respects to an increase in the bird population, we conclude that the risk to the airspace caused by small drones (for example, weighing up to 2kg, or 4.41 pounds) flying in solitary formation is minimal.”

Boeing Introduces Long-Endurance UUV, Echo Voyager

Boeing’s 51-foot Echo Voyager is an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that can operate autonomously for months under water. Unlike other UUVs, the Echo Voyager does not require a surface support ship, and it can surface and transmit collected data back to users. Sea trials begin this summer off the California coast.

Video of the Week

Home with my Drone

Watch what happens when a ten-year-old boy is left alone at home and gets a visit from the local law enforcement agency for flying his drone in his own backyard.

Mentioned

Drone flight powered by lightweight hydrogen-producing pellets

A Raptor E1 electric drone made a successful test flight using a fuel cell. Fuel pellets manufactured by Cell Energy are heated to produce hydrogen gas, which runs a fuel cell from by Arcola Energy. For the “makers” out there, Arcola Energy sells 1.5 to 30W Hydrogen Fuel Cell Developer Kits that integrate with the Arduino, mbed, and Raspberry Pi boards.

UAV137 Aurora’s LightningStrike Hybrid-electric X-plane

Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrikeThe Aurora Flight Sciences unmanned VTOL X-plane, shore-to-ship package delivery, Senate FAA reauthorization bill impacts UAS, more proposed local drone legislation, a new DJI Phantom, and high-altitude sUAS flying.

News

Aurora Wins Darpa Contract to Build Novel Drone Demonstrator

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded second- and third-phase contract awards to Aurora Flight Sciences for the “LightningStrike” technology demonstrator. Aurora plans to start flight testing the vertical takeoff and landing experimental plane (VTOL X-Plane) in 2018.

The LightningStrike features two large rear wings and two smaller front canards. The same Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine used in V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is mounted in the fuselage and powers three Honeywell generators which drive 24 ducted fans on the wings and canards. The wings and canards rotate to direct the fan thrust for hovering, transition, and forward flight.

Aurora’s LightningStrike VTOL X-Plane

Maersk Tankers Claims First Drone Delivery to Ship at Sea

A French Xamen Technologies drone dropped a small package onto a Maersk tanker in Denmark as a test to see if drones could be used to deliver spare parts, mail, or medicine to a ship. Compared to traditional means of delivery, the potential cost savings is significant.

Bipartisan Senate FAA bill shuns Shuster’s ATC proposal

The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has introduced a bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill that does not include any proposal for air traffic control privatization. However, under the Senate bill, the US National Institute of Standards (NIST) and the FAA would “develop risk-based, consensus industry standards on [UAV] aircraft safety.”

“The FAA would also establish a process for the airworthiness approval of small [UAVs] based on the consensus standards, in lieu of the more cumbersome certification process used for the approval of other aircraft. These standards … approved by FAA would ultimately improve safety by prescribing which safety technologies would be built into unmanned aircraft systems sold in the United States.”

Drone-Mounted Handgun, Flamethrower Reignite Lawmaker Debate

Reacting to the well-publicised drone weaponization exploits of a Connecticut teen, state legislators have conducted public hearings and proposed legislation to outlaw certain activity.

One bill would make it a class C felony, punishable by one to ten years in prison, to use a drone to release tear gas or other substances, or to control a deadly weapon or explosive device. Another bill would also limit how law enforcement and state agencies can use drones. But Peter Sachs, author of the Drone Law Journal, says one version of the bill exempts police from the ban on weaponized drones.

Proposed Utah legislation would allow cops to shoot down drones

Utah is not fooling around when it comes to drones. The recently introduced Senate Bill 210 would designate certain drone activity as aerial trespassing, and create guidelines for enforcement, including an option for police to shoot down rogue UAVs. State Senator Wayne Harper wants to address three issues: privacy, non-interference with airports and aircraft, and non-interference with emergency situations.

The bill would ban drones within 500 feet of correctional institutions or within three miles of a wildfire, and make it illegal to use a drone in the surveillance of large crowds or for stalking someone in a voyeuristic way. Violating drones could be neutralized by first responders or law enforcement officers.

DJI’s New Phantom 4 Drone Is Smarter, More Expensive and Available From Apple

DJI introduced the Phantom 4 which can dodge obstacles and track humans. The Phantom 4 features two sensors that allow it to react to and avoid obstacles in its path. The TapFly mode lets you tap on the live view on your smart device screen to direct the Phantom 4 in that direction. Flight time increases to 28 minutes, which is 25% more than the Phantom 3 Professional.

Someone thought it would be a good idea to fly a drone at 11,000 ft—it wasn’t

An anonymous YouTuber claims to have flown a modified DJI Phantom 2 to an altitude of 11,000 feet. Not all drone enthusiasts are impressed.

Video of the Week

African kids see drone for the first time!

Mark Brandon Smith was filming in Uganda when the headmaster of a school there asked him to give the kids a show with the drone. Watch the reaction from the kids as he flew the DJI Phantom 3 Professional for a short flight.

Mentioned

High-tech ‘bazooka’ fires a net to take down drones

The SkyWall 100 from U.K.-based OpenWorks Engineering fires projectiles at drones from a shoulder-mounted compressed air launcher. The Skywall locks on the drone, tracks the drone’s flight path, calculates an intercept trajectory, and fires a cannister with a net.

Watch high tech ‘bazooka’ take down a drone Fox News

Watch This Jet Ski Destroy a Drone, and Catch Some Serious Air

 

 

UAV136 First Person View Drone Racing

FPV drone racersWe get a first-hand look at first person view drone racing.

Guest

Fred Samson works for a large, international software company, but he’s also a 400hr FAA certificated pilot, formation lead acrobatic pilot, and drone enthusiast. He’s a member of the San Francisco chapter of the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA), he races on the national circuit, and he also helps people get into the sport.

FPV Racing

Fred SampsonFirst Person View racing is an incredible community of people of all types: teenagers, tinkerers, long-time RC folks, and people who are brand new to multirotors. Racers meet in parks, underground parking lots, container yards, abandoned buildings, and whatever they can find. The sport exploded in 2015 and this year we expect to see even more clubs, leagues, and international events (like the World Championship in Hawaii and the World Drone Pre in Dubai.

We talk with Fred about the sport of FPV drone racing, how it has grown, the forms it takes, what draws people to it, and how it’s different from line-of-sight flying. We touch on safety, the racing organizations, track design,   and how racing improves the breed.

Mentioned

Drone Racing League

MultiGP

World Drone Prix race in Dubai

fr3d_fly on Instagram

fr3d_fly Youtube Channel

Listener Team on Slack

Video of the Week

4K HD Drone warehouse racing

An impressive, drone’s eye view of racing in and around a warehouse. Watch this and you’ll understand the thrill of FPV drone racing.