The MMC hydrogen-powered HyDrone 1550 has been tested at altitudes over 14,000 feet in cold and mountainous Yunnan Province, China. The HyDrone 1550 can operate in environments where other drones cannot, making it good for mountain search and rescue.
Singapore Post signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus Helicopters to conduct research and testing for drone package delivery. SingPost becomes a partner under the Airbus Helicopter Skyways package delivery project for urban environments. A trial at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is planned for early 2018 where autonomous drones will fly in pre-defined routes and drop off packages across the campus. More at the Airbus Future of Urban Mobility webpage.
Verizon conducted an engineering flight test of Airborne LTE in order to find the size of the wireless coverage area that can be created by a drone. The “flying cell site” was conducted with an American Aerospace RS-20 long endurance drone at Woodbine Municipal Airport in New Jersey.
Grand View Research, Inc. reports that they expect the global anti-drone market to reach USD 1.85 billion by 2024. As UAVs are becoming stealthier, faster, smaller, and cheaper, threats and nuisance are expected to increase. Anti-drone technology is receiving a lot of investment in areas such as acoustic signature and visual identification, and electronic countermeasures. The full report is available for purchase.
The Drone Racing League is introducing the Racer3 drone for season two. All competing pilots will use the Racer3, which is more powerful and agile than the Racer2. The new drone features 209 LED lights with a built-in LED matrix display, a custom 1,800mA battery, and proprietary internal long range radios for live events and broadcast.
In DRL’s next-gen Racer3 drone combines speed, performance, ESPN quotes DRL founder and CEO Nick Horbaczewski: “It is dramatically more powerful, faster and more agile than the Racer2. The Racer3 can go from zero to 80 miles an hour in less than a second, which means it can basically accelerate on a dime — which makes for really exciting racing and allowed us to create larger courses, more extreme courses.”
The FAA wants to help drone operators improve the quality of their Part 107 airspace authorization requests, and speed up the processing of requests. On April 27, 2017, the FAA plans to release a set of UAS facility maps that show areas and altitudes near airports where UAS may operate safely. These maps will be available at http://www.faa.gov/uas for download in several formats and can be viewed on mobile devices.
Drone pilots can refer to the facility maps and align their applications with altitudes that the maps indicate are likely to be approved for small UAS operations. This simplifies the process and increases the likelihood that the FAA will approve the requests.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is soliciting proposals for small UAS to be used by Border Patrol agents in the field. They are looking for drones that can be carried in a truck, deployed by a single Border Patrol agent in under 5 minutes, include sensors such as infrared cameras and facial-recognition, and distinguish between people, animals, and vehicles. CBP expects to be able to cross-reference drone observations with law enforcement databases.
A successful test flight program for a VTOL UAS, an autonomous drone system gets an authorization to fly, the insurance industry advances drone use for structure inspections, UK drone reports increase, and drone weaponization for law enforcement.
The Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrike XV-24A subscale vehicle demonstrator (SVD) aircraft test flight program was successfully completed at a U.S. military facility. The SVD aircraft is a 325 pound, Lithium battery-powered scale model of the full-size XV-24A. That flight test program is scheduled to begin in late 2018.
The XV-24A is a tilt-wing UAV using the same Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine used on the V-22 Osprey, to drive three Honeywell generators. The generators power 24 variable-pitch ducted fans on the wing and canard.
Tel Aviv-based Airobotics has operated a BVLOS system at Israel Chemicals (ICL) and Intel in Israel, accumulating more than 10,000 flight hours and automated flight cycles. The success of the system led the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) to grant authorization to fly the UAS without a pilot. The Airobotics system consists of the Optimus drone, an Airbase automated base station, and software that lets users control and manage missions.
Farmers Insurance conducted its first roof inspection with a DJI Phantom quadcopter. Inspection by drone is faster than a conventional inspection and eliminates potential damaging foot traffic on the roof.
Last year in the UK, police received 3,456 drone reports, while 1,237 reports were recorded in 2015. Reports include invasions of privacy, disputes between neighbours, aircraft near misses, prison smuggling, and burglars using drones to see if a house was occupied. The Department for Transport considering new measures, Including the creation of a criminal offence for drone misuse.
After videos by a Connecticut teenager of his weaponized drones went viral, legislation was introduced in the Connecticut State Legislature to ban weaponized drones in the state. However, if enacted, the bill would carve out an exemption for law enforcement. No other state allows lethal drones. North Dakota permits law enforcement to use “less than lethal” weapons, like tear gas and stun guns.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the University of Minnesota Extension are investigating the use of drones to find invasive plants that can be incredibly destructive. Tests are continuing to determine the best sensor to use, the impact of light conditions, and the best flying pattern.
The free UAVs: From Flying Drones to Doing Business webinar is scheduled for Thursday, April 20, 2017, at 1 p.m. EST / 10 a.m. PST / 7 p.m. CET. The webinar will cover a broad range of issues concerning sensor integration aboard a flying platform and in particular their use for commercial purposes. Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to ask direct questions of the speakers, both upon registration and during the live event.
MartinUAV and Hirth Motors have been working together to power the V-BAT transitional VTOL UAS with a Hirth 4201 air-cooled 2-stroke boxer engine. The February 28 test demonstrated hover and the transitioned to horizontal flight.
The 183cc, gasoline-fueled 15hp Hirth 4201 engine communicates with the V-BAT flight computer and captures engine run parameters during flight for later analysis. A starter/generator allows for remote start and air vehicle electrical power.
The fixed-wing V-BAT features autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), an 8+ hour flight duration, and a 5+ pound payload. It has a near zero footprint, and hover and stare capability during flight.