Monthly Archives: February 2018

UAV231 The Drone Services Industry

The changing landscape for drone services, drone swarms for urban tactics, a simulated drone attack in Idaho, European airport operators embrace the value of drones but look for protections, MIT develops a mapping system for drone navigation, the Department of the Interior uses UAVs with great results, and Intel at the Olympics.

UAV News

Here’s Why The Drone Services Industry is in Trouble

In the “old” days, the Section 333 process was long and difficult. The hardware was tricky to operate and getting data from the drone was not easy. So companies used drone service providers to accomplish the desired missions. Now, a Part 107 is easy and cheap to obtain, flying drones is easier, and data from the drone is not as difficult to acquire. This means companies can create their own in-house drone capability.

PrecisionHawk Acquires and AirVid to Launch the Nation’s Largest Network of Commercially Licensed Drone Pilots

PrecisionHawk has acquired and AirVid to deliver on-demand, drone-based imagery to enterprise clients. The companies will merge and operate under the name. Combined, they form a network of more than 15,000 commercially licensed drone pilots, which PrecisionHawk will use to service its enterprise customers in insurance, agriculture, energy, construction, and government. Part 107 certified pilots can join the network and start accepting jobs in their region by creating a profile at

Participants wanted for UAV swarm-based tactics test bed

Northrop Grumman is the Phase 1 Swarm Systems Integrator for the DARPA OFFSET program (OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics). The program “envisions future small-unit infantry forces using swarms comprising upwards of 250 small unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and/or small unmanned ground systems (UGSs) to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments.” Northrop Grumman is about to launch its first open-architecture test bed and they are looking for participants to create and test their own swarm-based tactics on the platform.

Idaho Technology Company Black Sage Plans Drone Defense Demonstration at Idaho State Capitol

On February 21, 2018, Boise, Idaho-based Black Sage plans to demonstrate a drone defense system as they create a drone attack on the state capitol. Black Sage will create a virtual fence around the capitol, fly a swarm of drones directly into the protected area, and demonstrate the counter-UAS system to safely defeat the threat.

European airport operators call for adoption of drone rulebook

Airport Council International for Europe (ACI Europe) says safety issues involving drones and airports are increasing, and they want to see “an effective regulatory framework.” ACI Europe released the 6-page position paper on drone technology, ACI Europe Position on Drone Technology [PDF] in January. The paper recommends:

    • Airport-specific protection policies, including standardized protected zones
    • Technical systems to detect and neutralize drones
    • Traffic management for drone operations at airports
    • Readying the airport industry for future drone technology opportunities.

MIT teaches drones to fly with uncertainty

MIT researchers are developing the NanoMap system for drones. The system navigates a drone from point to point while avoiding random obstacles. Where other models have the drone map the environment, then fly through it, NanoMap creates maps on the fly.

Interior’s magic bullet: Drones that are DoD castoffs

The Department of Interior has a fleet of drones, many of which are hand-me-downs from the Department of Defense. Nevertheless, the drones are performing tasks that take one-seventh the time at one-tenth the cost, such as: land surveillance, wildlife monitoring, assistance with natural disasters, and dam inspections.

UAV Videos of the Week

High-tech drones steal the show at the Winter Olympics

Intel | The Tech Behind a Record-breaking Drone Show at PyeongChang 2018


Questions remain after drone collides with helicopter on Kauai



UAV230 Ehang Autonomous Aerial Vehicle

Ehang flies their autonomous aerial vehicle with human passengers, reaction to a close encounter with an airliner, drone safety measures at the Olympics, drone video awards, drone package delivery by Airbus, and thoughts on cargo drones.

Ehang 184 autonomous aerial vehicle.

Ehang 184 autonomous aerial vehicle. Image courtesy Ehang.

UAV News

Flying car? Watch as this drone flies around with passengers inside

The Ehang 184 autonomous aircraft is rated for a 220-pound payload, a cruising altitude of 500 meters, and a top speed of 80 mph.

CEO takes ride in passenger drone to demonstrate that it’s safe

Ehang has conducted over 1000 flight tests, including some with human passengers. Other flight tests include a 300-meter climb test with a 507-pound payload, a 9.3 mile distance test, and tests in high winds. Video shows two variants: a single-seater with eight pairs of rotors on four arms, and a two-seater with sixteen pairs of rotors on eight arms.

EHANG 184 AAV Manned Flight Tests

FAA Investigating Video of Drone Flying Dangerously Close to Airliner

Video originally posted on a Facebook group shows a drone flying close to a Frontier Airlines Airbus A320 on final approach to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The poster says he is a Las Vegas high school student and the video is real, but he didn’t shoot it. The FAA confirmed to Flying that it is taking the video very seriously,

UAS Stakeholders to FAA: Use Full Authority to Apprehend and Prosecute Reckless Las Vegas UAS Operator

A number of UAS stakeholders sent a letter [PDF] to the FAA to encourage it “to use its full authority to investigate, identify and apprehend an operator who recently flew a UAS over an airliner making its final approach at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.”

DJI institutes no-fly zones around sports arenas as the Olympics open in South Korea

DJI is implementing temporary no-fly zones around sports arenas at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Aviation authorities recommended the size of the zones.

Drone-catching drones to bolster security at Winter Olympics

Despite precautions, officials are concerned about rogue drones and have taken additional steps. A special drone-detection radar developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology will be used. There are reports of signal-jamming guns and “drone-catching drones” with nets may be deployed.

2017 Drone Video Awards Winners

The 2017 AirVūz Drone Video Awards winners have been announced:

Airbus Helicopters’ Skyways UAV takes flight into future of parcel delivery

The Skyways UAV completed its first flight demonstration at the National University of Singapore. The drone was launched from the Airbus dedicated maintenance center. It flew to the roof of a specially designed parcel station and used a robotic arm to load a package. It then returned to the maintenance center. Airbus Helicopters’ Executive Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technical Officer, Alain Flourens said, “Safe and reliable urban air delivery is a reality not too distant into the future, and Airbus is certainly excited to be a forerunner in this endeavour.”

Singapore Air Show: Drone tech is ready, but are we?

Air Cargo World noted the Airbus achievement, but comments that “Drones with last-mile delivery capabilities… require a dense population to justify the typically steep costs from research to deployment.” Additionally, Air Cargo World stated that regulatory hurdles exist in densely populated areas, and residents might be hostile to unmanned vehicles.

Also at the Singapore Air Show, ST Aerospace showed the concept for an unmanned freighter piloted by an artificially intelligent computer. ST Aero was optimistic that an unmanned freighter could be possible in the next five years. The technology is available now, they say, but public sentiment is not there yet.

UAV Video of the Week

Beaver Dam Collapse Update 2018

This video documents a Beaver Dam collapse and rebuild on private property in Northern Minnesota. The dam was an engineering marvel as it was double-decked, holding back over nine feet of water.


CNY Drones

Organizing an upstate New York open team drone competition.


UAV229 DroNet Autonomous Flight Through Cities

DroNet uses deep machine learning for autonomous flight, a labor union takes a stand on package delivery by drone, a tiny radar for sUAS, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and a British drone survey.

DroNet: Learning to Fly by Driving

DroNet: Learning to Fly by Driving

UAV News

AI-Powered Drone Mimics Cars and Bikes to Navigate Through City Streets

Researchers have developed a drone that can autonomously fly through the streets of a city. DroNet uses minimal onboard sensing and is trained with datasets collected by cars and bicycles.

Two years ago, roboticists at the University of Zurich trained a deep neural network with photographs taken by cameras mounted on a hiker’s head. They could then fly a drone along forest paths. Now, along with researchers from a Madrid University, they have used city datasets to train the rules for navigating through streets without running into anything.

DroNet is a convolutional neural network, designed as a fast 8-layers residual network. It produces two outputs for each single input image: A steering angle to keep the drone navigating while avoiding obstacles, and a collision probability to let the drone recognize dangerous situations and promptly react to them.

The researchers publicly release all their datasets, code, and trained networks. Learn more at the DroNet project website, and the research page on deep learning. See also the video DroNet: Learning to Fly by Driving.

No parcel drones. No robo-trucks – Teamsters driver union delivers its demands to UPS

The Teamsters union and UPS are holding labor negotiations that cover 260,000 union workers in North America. Reportedly, one of the union demands is a prohibition on “driverless trucks, drones, robots, and other driverless technology.” In Teamsters Union Says ‘No’ to UPS Drones, we find this:

“With a smaller carbon footprint and ever-increasing sophisticated, AI-infused behavior, it makes sense to transition to individual aerial deliveries, not to mention the convenience on behalf of the customer. On the other hand, one completely understands and empathizes with the aversion truck drivers have toward this stark, autonomous future. If it feels like their jobs are being endangered by the incredible exponential growth in technology, it’s because they are. Hence, a series of discussions soon to be cemented into policy, with one side trying to slow things down in order to survive, and another eager to march into the fully autonomous future.”

Aurora Flight Sciences and Socionext Develop Radar-Enabled Collision Protection Solution for Drones

Aurora Flight Sciences is collaborating with Socionext Inc. on a Radar Flight Control Module that exists as a single-chip 24GHz radar. It includes range measurement software and the radar can detect multiple objects, objects in open spaces, and target distance and speed. The RFCM talks to the flight controller and provides distance, warning and braking signals, preventing head-on collisions with obstacles. Press release: Aurora Flight Sciences and Socionext Develop Radar-Enabled Collision Protection Solution for Drones [PDF].

DHS SAVER Program Issues ‘Counter-Drone’ Procurement Guide for Emergency Responders

The DHS National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) program conducted a market survey of counter-unmanned aerial systems. The 19 page Market Survey Report: Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems [PDF] is intended to assist emergency responders in identifying useful products.

The thirteen systems identified range in price from $7,500 to $1.9 million. Eight systems can detect, track, classify and mitigate SUAS; two systems can detect, track and classify SUAS; and three systems can mitigate SUAS.

Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems

Market Survey Report: Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems. Source: DHS.

Driving licence for DRONES supported by majority of Brits, while 1 in 5 call for total ban

In a study commissioned by a UK tech firm Nominet, more than 2,000 British adults were surveyed. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents believe that flying a drone should require the equivalent of a driving licence. Thirty-seven percent said the Government should set up a body to manage drone ownership.