Monthly Archives: December 2017

UAV223 UAV Traffic Management in New Zealand

Airways and AirMap partner on a three-month trial of a UAV traffic management (UTM) platform, NTSB issues Aviation Incident Final Report on drone collision with a helicopter, Singapore tests drone strikes on test dummies, recreational drone registration is signed into law, and using drones for law enforcement.

UAV air traffic management in New Zealand.

Airways and AirMap partner to provide UAV air traffic management in New Zealand.

UAV News

New Zealand to trial drone traffic management system

Airways is New Zealand’s air navigation service provider. They deliver air navigation and air traffic management consultancy and training services throughout New Zealand and in over 65 countries. Airways has now partnered with AirMap to conduct a three-month trial of New Zealand’s first UAV traffic management (UTM) platform. The trial is taking place in the Canterbury and Queenstown regions. Drone users can use AirMap’s free iOS and Android apps to obtain approvals, file flight plans, and access real-time information about other aircraft in the area.

Airways NZ AirMap trial

NTSB Aviation Incident Final Report on collision between Blackhawk helicopter and DJI Phantom

On September 21, 2017, a Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter operated by the U.S. Army collided with a privately owned and operated DJI Phantom 4 at about 300 feet MSL. The helicopter received minor damage while the Phantom was destroyed. The NTSB determined the probable cause(s) of this incident to be: “The failure of the sUAS pilot to see and avoid the helicopter due to his intentional flight beyond visual line of sight. Contributing to the incident was the sUAS pilot’s incomplete knowledge of the regulations and safe operating practices.”

More Than 600 Drones Were Crashed in the Name of UAV Safety Research

In order to better understand the injuries that could occur in a drone collision, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Air Traffic Management Research Institute, crashed over 600 drones into dummy heads to gather as much data as possible. They found that a small 250 gram drone could kill a person.

NTU researchers test damage from drones on dummy heads

Turns out, you’re going to have to register your small drones with the U.S. government after all

On December 12, 2017, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 into law. The FAA rules for drone registration and marking for small unmanned aircraft that were vacated by the court will be restored to effect.

Taking to the Air: Drones and Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies in Delaware are utilizing drones for a variety of purposes. Dover, Wilmington, and Ocean View agencies are using drones. So are the Delaware State Police, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, and the state fire service. The drones are being used to monitor crowds during public events, survey homeless camps, monitor rallys and public exhibitions at schools, for aerial photography of crash scenes, to support court cases, and searching for suspects.

UAV222 Pipeline Inspection with SkyX

SkyX completes a data collection flight of a Mexican gas pipeline, Terra Drone uses the LTE network for unmanned traffic management, Europe moves toward drone standards, Maine law enforcement employs drones, China uses drones for monitoring forest fires, New Jersey tackles droning while drunk, and Airbus expands its investment in unmanned technology companies.

The SkyOne drone for pipeline inspection. Courtesy SkyX Systems Corporation.

The SkyOne. Courtesy SkyX Systems Corporation

UAV News

Canadian drone remotely monitors gas pipeline in Mexico

Canadian company SkyX Systems Corporation offers systems for monitoring long-range assets like oil and gas pipelines. Now they have successfully completed a 100 kilometer robotic data collection flight of a gas pipeline in Mexico. SkyX founder and CEO Didi Horn said, “More than $38 billion is spent annually monitoring oil and gas pipelines using less efficient means, which often identify problems only long after they’ve occurred.” The flight was programmed and monitored by SkyX at their Greater Toronto Area SkyCenter mission control center with a support crew of engineers on the ground in Mexico.

Video: SkyOne: From Concept to Completion

New UTM System Uses Cellular Network to Extend Flights BVLOS

Japanese UAV service provider Terra Drone Inc. and telecommunications operator LG U+ have developed a 4G LTE control system that gives operators the ability to remotely monitor their drones through the LTE network. This provides beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capability

Terra Drone is also working with UNIFLY on the “Terra UTM” unmanned traffic management system. They want to promote international standardization of the system.

IATA stresses need for UAV operation standards

IATA (the International Air Transport Association) and ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) are working together to develop standards for commercial use of UAVs. ICAO has sent a letter to its member countries asking them to protect manned aircraft operations from drones.

EU reaches initial agreement on UAV rules

The European Parliament and European Council negotiators have agreed to new regulations for civil use of UAVs by the EU member countries. “The design and manufacture of drones will have to comply with EU basic requirements on safety, security and personal data protection. Drones to be covered by the EU safety rules will be those that have an impact force of more than 80 joules if they hit a person.”

Brunswick police could be 1st in U.S. to use drones to spot railroad trespassers

The Brunswick (Maine) Police Department is concerned about trespassers along railroad tracks and they want to use drones to patrol the tracks. Desiree French, a spokeswoman for the Federal Railroad Administration says, “This device will only be used for detection, not enforcement.” They hope to have the program operating by early summer 2018.

The 9 best drones for generating some holiday buzz

New Atlas gives us their “picks for the best unmanned aircraft to get a loved one buzzing come Christmas morning.”

China’s CH-4 to be Deployed for Firefighting

The Chinese manufacturer of the CH-4 unmanned “rainbow drone” has made a deal with the regional forestry authority to monitor forest fires in northeast China. Previously, fire monitoring was performed by visual observation from fixed look-out posts and, occasionally from manned aircraft. The CH-4 is equipped with both visual and infrared sensors to allow it to see day and night and through fog.

New Jersey considers barring operating a drone while drunk

New Jersey lawmakers are working on legislation that would make it illegal to operate a drone while drunk.” The bill also bans using a drone to hunt wildlife and endanger people or property, and criminalizes using drones that endanger safety at correctional facilities as well as interfering with first responders.

Airbus Invests In Maker Of ADS-B For UAVs

Airbus is taking a stake in uAvionix, a Montana-based startup developing miniaturized ADS-B transceivers for detect-and-avoid in UAVs. Airbus previously invested in AirMap, AEye, BestMile, and Cognata.

UAV221 sUAS Collisions with Manned Aircraft

A study examines sUAS collisions with manned aircraft, Amazon patents a self-disintegrating drone, Mercedes completes 100 package deliveries by drone, a race that pitted an autonomous drone against a piloted drone, and marine mammals are disturbed by drones.

Delivery drone above a Mercedes Benz Vito van. Courtesy Daimler AG.

Delivery drone above a Mercedes-Benz Vito van. Courtesy Daimler AG.

UAV News

Researchers Release Report on Drone Airborne Collisions

A research team from ASSURE {Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence} released a report that looks at sUAS collisions with manned aircraft. Congress directed the FAA in 2014 to establish a UAS Center of Excellence and the FAA selected ASSURE, led by Mississippi State University, in May 2015.

The ASSURE UAS Airborne Collision Severity Evaluation Final Report concludes that drones that collide with large manned aircraft can cause more structural damage than birds of the same weight for a given impact speed. The FAA says they will use the research results to help develop operational and collision risk mitigation requirements for drones.

ASSURE used computer modeling and physical validation testing it its research. The team looked at a 2.7 pound quadcopter, a 4 pound quadcopter, a 4 pound fixed-wing drone, and an 8 pound fixed-wing drone, all striking a single-aisle commercial transport jet and a business jet.

They examined impacts to the wing leading edge, the windshield, and the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The windshields generally sustained the least damage and the horizontal stabilizers suffered the most serious damage.

The researchers concluded that unmanned aircraft system manufacturers should adopt “detect and avoid” or “geo-fencing” capabilities to reduce the probability of collisions with other aircraft.

The ASSURE team provided an A3 Airborne Collision Presentation, and the report in four volumes:

FAA sUAS COE Task A3 UAS Airborne Collision Hazard Severity Evaluation [PDF]

An FAA press conference presentation explaining why it is necessary to determine the potential severity of sUAS mid-air collisions with aircraft in order to define an Equivalent Level of Safety to manned aviation.

Volume I: UAS Airborne Collision Severity Evaluation: Summary of Structural Evaluation [PDF]

A summary of the entire structural portion of the study that includes a high-level explanation of the project’s scope, technical approach, evaluation and conclusions of the severity of small unmanned aircraft impacts with a commercial transport jet and business jet. This summary report also provides conclusions on the influence of velocity and mass on impact damage, a comparison to bird strikes and concludes with recommendations going forward.

Volume II: UAS Airborne Collision Severity Evaluation: Quadcopter [PDF]

A detailed report the project’s scope and the selection and definition of both the “projectile” Unmanned Aircraft and the “target” commercial transport and business jets. This Volume centers on the quadcopter UAS and its unique characteristics.

Volume III: UAS Airborne Collision Severity Evaluation: Fixed-Wing UAS [PDF]

A similarly detailed report centering on the fixed-wing UAS and its unique characteristics.

Volume IV: UAS Airborne Collision Severity Evaluation: Engine Ingestion [PDF]

An evaluation of the severity of a small UAS collision with propulsion systems. This report helps us to start to understand the effects of parameters of aircraft speed, impact location, fan speed and unmanned aircraft orientation on impact severity to a unique FAA fan-blade-out model.

Amazon delivery drone could self-disintegrate for safety if it falls from sky

Amazon has been granted a patent for Directed fragmentation for unmanned airborne vehicles: “In one embodiment, the UAV includes various components, such one or more motors, batteries, sensors, a housing, casing or shell, and a payload for delivery. Additionally, the UAV includes a flight controller and a fragmentation controller. The flight controller determines a flight path and controls a flight operation of the UAV. During the flight operation, the fragmentation controller develops a fragmentation sequence for one or more of the components based on the flight path, the flight conditions, and terrain topology information, among other factors. The fragmentation controller can also detect a disruption in the flight operation of the UAV and, in response, direct fragmentation of one or more of the components apart from the UAV. In that way, a controlled, directed fragmentation of the UAV can be accomplished upon any disruption to the flight operation of the UAV.”

Mercedes Plans More Drone Deliveries After 100 Perfect Flights

In a 3-week pilot project by Mercedes-Benz Vans, US drone systems developer Matternet, and Swiss online marketplace siroop, 100 package delivery flights were successfully completed in Zurich. Customers placed orders for items like ground coffee and cellphones. The drones flew as far as 17 kilometers (11 miles) to four fixed points in the city where they landed on roofs of special Mercedes-Benz Vito vans. The vans then delivered the packages.

NASA-Built Drone Races FlyingBear, Loses

Professional drone racing pilot Ken “FlyingBear” Loo flew against a NASA autonomous drone. The NASA drone flew more cautiously, smoothly, and consistently over the course. Loo’s speeds were higher, and he executed more complex maneuvers, but mental fatigue became a factor. In the end, his times were quicker.

As Ocean Drones Proliferate Marine Wildlife are getting a bit annoyed

Drones are violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1992 which makes it illegal to disturb marine mammals, regardless of whether you are in the water, in a boat, or in the air. Marine biologist Alicia Amerson started the AliMoSphere initiative to develop best practices studying marine wildlife with drones.

UAV Video of the Week

Flying Robot international Film Festival

The FRiFF calls itself “the world’s premiere international competitive short film festival focused on drone culture and aerial cinema created from the perspective of drones.”

The 2017 edition of the Festival took place November 16, 2017, at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. Twenty-five short drone films from a dozen countries were selected for inclusion and nominated for awards in each of seven categories. Watch the winning drone films.

Mentioned

The Drone Racing League (DRL) and MultiGP Drone Racing Announce Simulator Partnership Surrounding the 2018 Swatch DRL Tryouts