Monthly Archives: March 2017

UAV187 Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Drones

Our guest explains the research on fuel cells as a power source for unmanned aircraft. In the news, an Airobotics drone operates without a human pilot, the USAF uses a drone for aircraft inspections, BVLOS inspections in Canada, an underwater autonomous vehicle, a drone for humanitarian missions, more Amazon UAS patents, and a Patriot missile takes out a small quadcopter.

Guest

Dr. Benjamin D. Gould is a Chemical Engineer in the Chemistry Division of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). He’s an expert in fuel cell power systems and specializes in the development of next-generation power sources for the US Navy.

The Ion Tiger in flight and a 550 W fuel cell

The Ion Tiger in flight and a 550 W fuel cell (insert). Image courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

We talk with Dr. Gould about the research the NRL is conducting with fuel cells and the Ion Tiger unmanned air vehicle. We learn how fuel cells produce electricity, and the reasons fuel cells are attractive for unmanned aircraft. Dr. Gould also explains the application of additive manufacturing to fuel cells, future research projects, and the availability of the hydrogen used as the fuel.

Dr. Gould earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2007 and his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 2002.  His research interests include additive manufacture of fuel cells, fuel cell recovery processes, bipolar plate design, open cathode fuel cells, and hydrogen safety. He was awarded the prestigious 2013 Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award for his work on fuel cells.

References:

UAV News

This Airobotics ‘homing’ drone flies and lands without any need for a human

Tel Aviv-based Airobotics wanted to build a drone that required no human operator. One that could take off, fly pre-programmed flights for up to 30 minutes, and then land without human assistance. The company now says they have “developed a platform that is fully automated, industrial grade, on-demand and multi-purpose.” The Airobotics 1 video shows the automated landing box and a robotic arm for automatic payload and battery exchange.

USAF looks at UAS flightline maintenance

A quadcopter has been tested for the maintenance inspection of a C-17 cargo plane at Edwards Air Force Base. The US Air Force’s 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force (CTF) flew three sorties on the flight line with a 3D Robotics Solo quadcopter. Next, they’ll analyze the video to determine if the resolution is good enough to see small details like structural abnormalities, rivets, and cracks. See also, First use of sUAS to inspect plane lessens load for maintainers.

Canadian UAVs completes first BVLOS pipeline and powerline inspections in Canada

Canadian UAVs Inc. and Lockheed Martin CDL Systems are teaming for BVLOS inspections of pipelines, wellheads, and power lines. Using a Lockheed Martin Indago 2 quadrotor, they demonstrated the capability at the UAV testing facility in Foremost, Alberta.

Canadian UAVs Inc. is a UAV solutions provider. Lockheed Martin CDL Systems specializes in the development and licensing of vehicle control station software for unmanned systems.

British UAV “Boaty” Will Go On First Antarctic Mission

“Boaty McBoatface” is a British UAV, an underwater autonomous vehicle. Researchers plan to use it to collect data about the effects of global warming on the world’s oceans. Boaty is to depart from southern Chile and head towards the Southern Ocean. Follow @BoatyMcBoatface on Twitter.

UK company develops edible drones to feed hungry

Windhorse Aerospace Pouncer

Windhorse Aerospace Pouncer

Windhorse Aerospace is developing a prototype of the Pouncer delta-wing drone. This single-use drone is designed to carry food and supplies on humanitarian missions. Windhorse says it’s “pre-formed shell can be reused to provide shelter, the frame can be burnt safely to cook food, and the payload, which is food and water, provides life-saving nutrition.” Not only that, but the company says, “One day, the airframe may be made of edible components.”

Amazon patents drones with telescoping landing legs and foldable propellers

If a drone lands on a sloping surface, it could fall over. But an Amazon patent contemplates independently telescoping legs that would allow it to stay level. Such legs could also act as a shock absorber, and be tipped with spikes, screws, suction cups, or magnets to grip different surfaces. Another Amazon patent shows adjustable winglets on propeller tips for flight efficiency.

UAV Video of the Week

Someone shot down a $200 drone with a $3M Patriot missile

Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, speaking at the 2017 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition, stated that someone described as a very close U.S. ally “dealing with an adversary flying a small quadcopter,” fired a Patriot surface-to-air missile at the drone. It worked.

Video: AUSA 2017 – GEN David Perkins, Commanding General, U.S. TRADOC

 

 

UAV186 AOPA UAS Programs

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Senior Director of UAS Programs explains the organization’s strategies for unmanned aircraft.

Guest

Kathleen “Kat” Swain

Kathleen “Kat” Swain, Senior Director for AOPA UAS Programs.

Kathleen “Kat” Swain is Senior Director for AOPA UAS Programs. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association created the position in 2016, and since then Kat has been working to implement the organization’s strategies for UAS.

Kat was a manned aircraft pilot before she became a remote pilot and has multiple ratings. She is a flight instructor, having instructed both military and civilian pilots. Kat has flown drones for many purposes, including insurance industry support and humanitarian missions.

We discuss the AOPA commitment to unmanned aviation, and how manned and unmanned pilots share the same desire to protect the safety of the airspace. Kat explains the value of AOPA advocacy and the benefits of membership that AOPA offers drone pilots. That includes insurance, legal assistance, pilot protection services, and the new AOPA Drone Pilot biweekly newsletter that covers training and safety, gear, lifestyle, regulation and policy, and drone news.

See:

UAV Video of the Week

Don Toporowski manages the ACE climatic wind tunnel at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The facility tests drones and can simulate the types of precipitation and clouds that UAVs have to deal with at lower speeds and altitudes. ACE actually creates repeatable water droplets, freezing rain, and clouds. This funny video illustrates the limits of a DJI Phantom 4’s ability to fly in high winds.

A Drone’s Worst Nightmare…

 

UAV185 The DJI Matrice 200 Series of Drones

New DJI Matrice 200 drones created for enterprise users, Parrot also sees a future in the commercial market, an RQ-7 Shadow goes on an unexpected cross-country flight, and swarms of drones may someday map oil spills.

DJI Matrice 210

DJI Matrice 200 series drone

UAV News

DJI’s Matrice 200 UAV line is built for work

DJI showed its new Matrice 200 series of quadcopters at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It’s a workhorse designed for commercial and industrial applications and comes in three models: the baseline M200 with one gimbal, the M210 with two downward-facing gimbals or one top-mounted gimbal, and the M210 RTK which adds real-time kinematic sensors for precise navigation.

All models use the DJI flight management system, the DJI Pilot app, subject tracking, autonomous circling, and ActiveTrack. Flighthub lets the pilot stream video to a remote station in real-time, and DJI’s Flightsense algorithm lets the M200 drones autonomously avoid obstacles. Significantly, M200s incorporate ADS-B receivers.

Parrot to pursue profits with commercial drones

After failing to meet revenue targets, Parrot says it will return to profitability by 2018 through an expansion of its commercial drone business. The Parrot CFO says, “Professional drones should generate at least 50 to 60 percent gross margin on the long run, where consumer drones cannot generate more than 35 percent of gross margin.”

Questions hover over Army drone’s 630-mile odyssey across western US

An Army Shadow RQ-7Bv2 launched from southern Arizona on January 31 lost the connection with its ground crew. The Shadow was found February 9 in a tree near Denver, 630 miles away.

Coming soon: Oil spill-mapping swarms of flying drones

The University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has devised a method to quickly map oil spills with a swarm of off the shelf drones. The drones record if they are over water, over oil, or at the edge of the spill. They then share that information among themselves so they waste time covering an area already observed. When reaching low power, the drones return to the ship for a recharge, while new drones join the swarm already knowing what the others have found. Collision avoidance is accomplished via simple rules taken from nature. See the paper: A Swarm-Intelligence Approach to Oil Spill Mapping using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

UAV Video of the Week

DJI – Introducing the Matrice 200 Series

Mentioned

The UAV Digest has become a media partner with the ASCEND Conference & Expo, to be held July 19-21, 2017 in Portland Oregon. ASCEND comes from the team behind Drone360 magazine and will focus on the commercial UAS industry with expert speakers and critical analysis. Registration is now open and the coupon code theUAVdigest will get you a $50 discount.