Newton, Massachusetts enacted drone rules that included the requirement to register with every municipality you will fly over, and flights over private and city property must be at an altitude of at least 400 feet. Michael Singer filed a lawsuit and US District Judge William G. Young agreed with Singer saying, “Newton’s choice to restrict any drone use below this altitude (400 feet) thus works to eliminate any drone use in the confines of the city, absent prior permission. This thwarts not only the FAA’s objectives, but also those of Congress for the FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace.”
The Big Drone Show
David attended the Big Drone Show September 27-28, 2017 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. He recorded a number of interviews and this episode we bring you three of them:
Adam Sax, President and CEO of The Sky Guys and Defiant Labs, offering integrated UAV-enabled services and aerial technology.
Jeremy Wang, Chief Technology Officer at Defiant Labs, which designs and develops advanced drone technology such as the DX-3 UAV.
The Matternet autonomous drone package delivery network, reasons the drone industry job market is hot, studying the risk of injury when drones strike people, drones and transmission line cable construction, actuator servos and the Aerosonde Mk4.7 sUAS, and a webinar for planning your drone program.
The Matternet Station for deliveries by autonomous drone. Courtesy Matternet.
Matternet announced an autonomous drone network in Switzerland that will fly lab samples between hospitals, clinics, and labs. The permanent network seeks to make deliveries within 30 minutes. Matternet was granted authorization to operate drones over densely populated areas in Switzerland in March 2017. The company unveiled its “Matternet Station” that can be installed on rooftops or on the ground to send and receive packages by drone. Regular service is expected to start in early 2018. Matternet press release. [PDF]
In 2016, about $600 million in venture capital was invested in unmanned aerial tech. So far in 2017, $1.2 billion has been invested. Cited as reasons for a hot job market are: ease of obtaining an operator’s license, the ability of drones to fly in difficult environments, and corporate acquisitions of drone startups.
The Virginia Tech injury biomechanics group and its UAS test site (operated by the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership) has released an academic study that quantifies the risk of injury associated with drones colliding with humans. The report, Ranges of Injury Risk Associated with Impact from Unmanned Aircraft Systems, was published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering and looks at head and neck injury risk in different impact scenarios.
Sharper Shape and SkySkopes have successfully conducted a demonstration of transmission line cable construction using drones. A Sharper Shape A6 UAS was used to string sock lines for a 675 kV line construction project. This would typically be performed with helicopters or workers climbing the towers.
This webinar is designed to get your drone strategy ready for 2018. Skyward and DARTdrones will walk through best practices for building and budgeting for a drone program. Thursday, October 12, 2017, 10 am – 11 am PST.
ICAO proposes a global drone registry, a multi-rotor endurance record, a major change at Drone360 magazine, tracking drones with cellular networks, drone support following Hurricane Irma, and more swarming technology.
The Skyfront Tailwind hybrid-electric drone. Courtesy Skyfront.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposed a global database of drone owners. The database would remotely identify and track drones and their operators. More details will be provided at ICAO’s DRONE ENABLE Unmanned Aircraft Systems Industry Symposium September 22-23, 2017 in Montréal, Canada. The Event Guide and Directory [PDF] lists a session where “The ICAO registration system which is under development will be explained including its purpose, intended functionality and interaction with national registration systems.”
Drone builder Skyfront says they have set a new endurance world record for a multi-rotor UAV. Their Tailwind quadcopter flew for 4 hours and 34 minutes. The hybrid-electric drone offers a 3 kg payload and is intended for inspection, surveying, mapping, and agriculture. An internal gasoline engine spins a generator which produces an unregulated direct-current voltage. The power electronics system regulates the voltage and a small battery is available to provide boost and back up power. Watch the time-lapse video: World Record Multirotor Endurance Flight – 4 hours 34 minutes – Skyfront Tailwind.
The September-October 2017 issue of Drone360 magazine will be their last publication. Instead, Drone360 returns to Discover magazine, where it started as a blog. The drone360mag.com URL will still be valid.
Lia Reich, VP of communications and marketing at PrecisionHawk and a member of the Drone360 editorial advisory board, discusses manned and unmanned aircraft integration issues. That includes the idea of using cellular networks for UAS Traffic Management (UTM).
As of September 15, 2017, the FAA had issued 137 airspace authorizations for drones in Florida in response to Hurricane Irma. The Air National Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Airbus Aerial, the Jacksonville Electric Authority, Florida Power and Light, and others participated in response efforts.
University of Colorado, Boulder researchers have developed technology that allows a single operator to control multiple drones. CU Boulder is operating under a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA that allows one pilot to fly up to 30 aircraft at a time. The project is an international collaboration with the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
Using drones for disaster relief, a new marketplace for used drones, a drone park for a Florida county, unmanned aircraft replacing manned helicopters, bright career prospects for drone pilots, and fighting pollution with gas-sniffing drones.
The Texas Military Department representing the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard tweeted: “#ALERT: We are seeing civilian drones that pose EXTREME risks to our rescue pilots and crews in high need areas.”
FAA: “The FAA warns drone operators that flying an unauthorized drone could interfere with local, state and federal rescue and recovery missions. You could be subject to significant fines if you interfere with emergency response operations”
And, “Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a TFR is not in place. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.”
People streamed into Texas with drones, trying to help. But how do we safely and effectively integrate drones with disaster relief efforts?
droneUp pulls qualified drone pilots together and coordinates with local authorities. droneUp says they are “about flying. It’s about building a community of enthusiasts who share a passion. droneUp was designed by pilots, for pilots to support our diverse needs and interests. We can scale to provide mission support for hundreds of thousands of pilots responding, reporting and communicating in real time. droneUp facilitates safety, fellowship, emergency assistance, and commerce for a network of pilots of unmanned aerial vehicles using a mobile application connected to cloud servers. You’re joining the central resource and community for drone pilots worldwide.”
To use droneUp, qualified pilots register for an account on a mobile app. When law enforcement or first responders need drone assistance, a mission is created and local pilots are alerted. Pilots acknowledge alerts on their app and take action.
New start-up DRONEFAX offers a marketplace for buying and selling used drones, as well as inspection and repair services by an FAA-licensed aviation maintenance technician. Discounts on drone insurance are available for drones purchased through the marketplace.
Citrus County has the first designated drone park in Florida. Drone enthusiast and County Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith responded to Lecanto High School student Catherine Schlabach’s request for help get a drone club up and running at the school. The Citrus Drone Racing Club now has 52 members and a place to fly.
Last year, the University of Maine at Augusta began offering Maine’s first university-level UAV course. The seven-week drone course prepares students for the FAA test for remote pilot operators. UMA says graduates are immediately in demand and can earn six figures working for large corporations.
With more than 900,000 factories registered in the Chinese city of Dongguan, it is impossible for officials to inspect them all for safety and environmental compliance. Now drones with gas detecting sensors are assisting in the fight against pollution.
A bladeless drone wins a design award, women to watch in UAS, drone support for Hurricane Harvey, DJI issues a mandatory firmware update, Customs and Border Protection nabs a drug runner, video gamers as drone pilots, and talking drones from Amazon.
The Edgar Herrera designed bladeless drone concept.
Mexican designer Edgar Herrera has created a concept for a bladeless drone that is a winner in the 2017 Red Dot Design Concept Award. In this design concept, three bladeless air ducts control direction and can rotate 20 degrees. A fourth central duct provides lift. Is it a viable design? Maybe yes, maybe no.
DJI is pushing out a firmware update to fix the problem with some Spark drones falling out of the sky.This is a mandatory firmware update. Your Spark won’t fly without the update. DJI says the problem is related to the battery management system and power supply.
The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection has arrested a 25-year-old man for using a consumer drone to transport several pounds of methamphetamine across the Mexican border.
An Amazon patent envisions drones that interact with people – live audio and video. This could be used to warn someone standing too close to the landing zone or to have a conversation with customer support.