Monthly Archives: February 2017

UAV183 An Autonomous Taxi Drone

Dubai plans to address traffic problems with a taxi drone, the Drone Advisory Committee looks at UAS tasks, a concept for very large racing drones forms in Australia, a tower trade organization issues a UAS guidance document, investing in drone technology, an NDVI data gathering solution for growers, a Microsoft UAS simulation platform, and Amazon looks at controlled descent of ejected packages.

Ehang 184 Taxi Drone

Ehang 184 Autonomous Taxi Drone

UAV News

Dubai To Launch Flying Drone Taxis In July

By the year 2030, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wants 25 percent of all passenger trips in Dubai to be provided by autonomous vehicles. The head of Dubai’s Roads & Transportation Agency says they have been experimenting with the Ehang 184 as an autonomous taxi drone.

The single-seat taxi drone has a 30-minute flight time with a 50-kilometer range. The passenger selects the destination on a touchpad, and the drone flies there autonomously. Flights would be monitored remotely at a control room.

See the video: EHANG 184 Flight Test, published on Dec 28, 2016, and also Dubai is buying 200 Tesla vehicles as part of its ambitious self-driving taxi plan

Drone Advisory Committee Builds Consensus

At the second meeting of the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) on January 31, 2017, three draft tasking statements were reviewed:

  1. The roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local governments in regulating and enforcing drone laws.
  2. Technological and regulatory mechanisms that would allow drone operators to gain access to the airspace beyond what the agency currently permits under the Small UAS Rule.
  3. Funding to offset the cost of supporting unmanned aircraft integration into the nation’s airspace.

Giant drone racing is here, and it’s just as awesome as it sounds

Australian Chris Ballard thinks he has a better idea for the sport of drone racing. He founded startup Freedom Class Giant Drone Racing and is designing, building, and testing giant racing drones. Ballard says he’s “looking to achieve the Formula 1 of the drone-racing world.” See the video: Freedom Class Giant Drone – Initial Flight Test – January 2017.

NATE Unveils 2nd Edition of Unmanned Aerial Systems Safety Resource

The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) has released the 2nd Edition of the resource document NATE Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations Around Vertical Communications Infrastructure. [PDF] The document is intended to address UAS operations around wireless infrastructure, cellular towers, broadcast towers and utility structures. The 2nd Edition incorporates updates associated with the FAA Part 107 rules for the commercial operation of UAS.

How to Invest in Drone Technology

With DJI commanding a large market share, what other options do investors have? There are large companies in the industry, such as Lockheed Martin, GoPro, Boeing, Amazon, United Parcel Service, and Intel. There is even an exchange-traded fund. But drone component companies are another option.

Sentera Adds TrueNDVI™ to DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone

Sentera produces sensors that image Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data to help growers manage crop health. Now Sentera has announced they can convert a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone into a system that collects TrueNDVI™ crop health data. A single flight can capture visual-band RGB, near-infrared (NIR), and NDVI data.

Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform

Microsoft’s open-source Aerial Informatics and Robotics platform addresses “the large data needs for training, and the ability to debug in a simulator.” The system “provides realistic simulation tools for designers and developers to seamlessly generate the copious amounts of training data they need. In addition, the platform leverages recent advances in physics and perception computation to create accurate, real-world simulations.”

Amazon considers parachutes for drone delivered packages

Amazon has a patent for “Maneuvering a package following in-flight release from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).” Now we have the possibility of delivery drones that land, those that lower their package, and those that eject their package. The descent of ejected packages could be controlled by a parachute, landing flaps, or compressed air canisters.

Verizon Acquires Skyward to Simplify Drone Operations and Reduce Complexity for Businesses

Verizon announced a deal to buy Skyward for an undisclosed sum. The maker of drone operations software says, “Skyward’s drone operations management platform combined with Verizon’s network, reliability, trusted brand, and expertise in building enterprise solutions will help [Skyward] deliver the solutions our customers need faster than ever before.”

UAV Video of the Week

The eagles: new anti-drone weapons

Screen capture from the TF1 television newscast of 12 February 2017.

The eagles: new anti-drone weapons

The French Armed Forces are using birds of prey to capture drones in flight. The video shows how the birds are trained and how they take down drones.

Mentioned

Papa John’s Commercial 2017 Drones

Patrick sent us this commercial where pizza delivery drones run amuck.

 

 

UAV182 Super Bowl Goes Gaga Over Drones

Drones appear at the Super Bowl, Kansas wants to be an unmanned aircraft leader, UAS for newsgathering gains momentum, an unmanned air combat drone, drones that seed clouds, and those that pollinate.

Intel drones light show

Intel® Shooting Star™ drones light show at Super Bowl LI

UAV News

Lady Gaga Halftime Drone Swarm Was Pretaped to Shield Crowd

The Super Bowl LI halftime show included 300 drones choreographed by Intel. The drones were filmed in advance to comply with the requirement for no flights over people, and the TFR in effect for the event. Also, One of Amazon’s delivery drones showed up in a Super Bowl ad. In the Amazon TV commercial, an Amazon Echo is used to order Doritos from Amazon Prime Air, then the drone appears outside the window.

Kansas UAS director outlines initial drone plans

Kansas Department of Transportation’s unmanned aircraft systems director Bob Brock wants to make the state a leader in UAS technology. Brock wants to protect privacy, ensure public safety, help farmers and ranchers adopt UAS to reduce costs and increase yields, and make Kansas a leader in the UAS industry.

WBRC FOX6 News first to use drones for news, weather, traffic coverage

WBRC FOX6 News in Birmingham, Alabama now has two licensed drone pilots. They plan to use their “Sky Tracker” drone for weather and traffic coverage, newsgathering, marketing and creative services, tower inspections, and sales initiatives.

More Details Emerge On Kratos’ Optionally Expendable Air Combat Drones

Kratos Unmanned System Division (KUSD) is developing the XQ-222 unmanned air combat vehicle (UCAV). In 2016, Kratos was awarded a demonstration contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory under the Low-Cost Attritable Strike Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Demonstration (LCASD) initiative. KUSD said under the contract award, they “will design, develop, deliver, demonstrate and test a technical baseline for a high-speed, long-range, low-cost, limited life-strike UAS.”

Can drones make it rain? Nevada officials upbeat on cloud-seeding prospects

In 2016, the Nevada Institute For Autonomous Systems (NIAS) successfully tested a cloud-seeding payload flown by a fixed-wing drone. This generated a lot of interest from around the world. They expect to make major strides with cloud-seeding operations within the next few weeks.

Scientists Are Building Bee-Like Drones to Fight the Coming Bee-Pocalypse

Some data suggests that the bee population is shrinking worldwide. Bees are critical for pollination so the potential impact on crops is large. Now scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan are exploring a solution. They found that a certain sticky substance was good at picking up pollen. Then they glued animal hair to the bottom of a tiny G-Force PXY CAM drone and applied the sticky goo to the hair. Just by flying around and knocking into flowers, the drone picked up and deposited pollen grains.

UAV Videos of the Week

DARPA demonstrates SideArm UAS capture system

DARPA’s SideArm research effort seeks to create a self-contained, portable apparatus able to horizontally launch and retrieve unmanned aerial systems of up to 900 pounds. In December 2016, Aurora Flight Sciences successfully tested a full-scale technology demonstration system.

Mavic Pro on Floats

Listener Mike attended the Central Florida Mavic Owners group meet-up, and one of the guys had a Gator Skinned Mavic on floats. He recorded some video of the float Mavik with his own Mavic.

Mentioned

The  “RETREEV Compact Retrieval Tool” from TEC Accessories, a very small pocket-sized grappling hook that might be helpful to retrieving drones from trees (or your keys from a storm drain).

 

 

UAV181 Vanishing Drones

DARPA calls for drones that vanish, the U.S. Coast Guard tests the ScanEagle, more Amazon drone patents, a shortage of military drone pilots, Microsoft drones for good, the Trump administration’s regulatory policy throws confusion at the UAS industry, 3DR operates drones at the Atlanta airport, and a biometric drone based on the bat.

Otherlab is developing APSARA drones

APSARA drone, courtesy Otherlab.

UAV News

These mushroom-based drones eat themselves at mission’s end

Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems (ICARUS), is a DARPA program “driven by a vision of vanishing air vehicles that can make precise deliveries of critical supplies and then vaporize into thin air.” Small items could be supplied/resupplied to military or humanitarian assistance teams operating in difficult-to-access areas, and then the drones would dispose of themselves.

San Francisco-based R&D firm Otherlab is responding with Aerial Platform Supporting Autonomous Resupply Actions (APSARA) drones which will ultimately be made from mycelium, a mushroom-based material. See their press release, Industrial Paper Airplanes for Autonomous Aerial Delivery.

Coast Guard Conducts small Unmanned Aircraft System Testing On Cutter Stratton

USCG NSC flying ScanEagle drones

NSC and ScanEagle drone

The U.S. Coast Guard tested a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) on the national security cutter (NSC) Stratton. Deployment on Stratton planned is for this winter, initially using the ScanEagle sUAS.

USCG resources:

Amazon’s latest drone patent features foldable wings for flippable flight

Amazon has another patent for a delivery drone concept, this a foldable-wing design. With wings folded, the drone is stable on the ground for a vertical takeoff. Then the wings unfold for horizontal flight and fold again for the landing.

Amazon patent for folding wing drones

Amazon Illustration via USPTO

Another Amazon patent was recently published for a system for determining the center of gravity for a delivery drone payload. The drone can then adjust the payload position to balance itself in flight.

Air Force and Army Should Improve Strategic Human Capital Planning for Pilot Workforces

This U.S. Government Accountability Office press release states, “The Air Force and the Army have not fully applied four of the five key principles for effective strategic human capital planning for managing pilots of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that are important for resolving the Air Force’s pilot shortages and the Army’s training shortfalls.”

Microsoft’s Mosquito-Tracking Drones Could Save Lives

In 2015, Microsoft announced Project Premonitions, which envisions using drones to detect mosquito breeding areas. In June 2016, Microsoft formed the Aerial Informatics and Robotics (AIR) group. Their goal is to develop autonomous drones that use machine intelligence, robotics, and human-centered computation.

Drone Industry Fears Trump Turbulence in Rule Expanding Flights

The Trump administration first froze new regulations, then issued an executive order requiring that for every new regulation, two old ones must be identified for elimination. The impact on the drone industry is uncertain since new regulations are needed for flight over people, enabling package delivery, etc.

The FAA gave the first ever go-ahead for a drone to fly at a major airport

The FAA granted the waiver for flight in Class B airspace. 3D Robotics conducted seven flights on January 10, 2017, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The mission was data collection for a demolition project.

Video of the Week

Bat Bot Wins Flexible Flier Miles

An extremely flexible flying robot called the “Bat Bot” is made from a carbon fiber skeleton and a silicon membrane wing. This was reported in the Science Robotics article, A biomimetic robotic platform to study flight specializations of bats.

Mentioned

Drones set to invade accounting profession