Author Archives: dronemama

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.

 

 

 

UAV184 AOPA Welcomes Drone Pilots

Drone pilots are welcome to join AOPA, drone sightings increase again, a large autonomous freight drone prototype, a beyond visual line of sight record, and autonomous package delivery by UPS.

UAV News

AOPA Welcomes Drone PilotsAOPA believes manned and unmanned pilots are more alike than different: “…both groups are part of general aviation, and share a fascination for flight and a craving for new perspectives.” To bring drone pilots into the organization, AOPA created a senior director of UAS programs and selected Kathleen “Kat” Swain to fill the position in April 2016. More recently, AOPA entered into a formal agreement with DARTdrones to offer their online training course free to AOPA members. Also, AOPA members will be eligible for a discount on an online Part 107 test preparation course, and members can experience drone demonstrations and live seminars at major airshows and at AOPA’s Regional Fly-Ins.

FAA Releases Updated Drone Sighting Reports

The reports of potential encounters with UAS come from pilots, air traffic controllers, law enforcement, and citizens. The latest data cover February through September 2016 and show reports increasing to 1,274 during that period compared to 874 reports for the same period in 2015. The FAA makes the data available through their UAS Sightings Report page.

Exclusive: Natilus Offers First Look at Freight Drone Prototype

Natilus wants to build a large autonomous freight drone and reduce global air freight costs by 50% over that of a 747 freighter. The San Jose, California-based company received $750,000 in seed funding in June 2016 from Draper Associates. Their Nemo prototype “is about the size of a small predator military drone.”

Nevada-based Consortium using Drone America UAV Completes First Long-Distance Beyond Line of Sight Urban Package Delivery

The 39-mile beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight was flown under the Nevada UAS Test Site’s FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) on February 15, 2017. Led by the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, which manages the UAS Test Site, the fixed-wing Drone America Savant™ UAV flew at up to 1,500 feet AGL.

UPS tests residential delivery via drone launched from atop package car

UPS announced that they successfully tested the autonomous delivery of a package by a drone launched from the top of a UPS truck. Under the UPS concept, while the drone is making its delivery, the driver continues on to make a separate delivery. Tests were conducted in Tampa, Florida with a Workhorse Group HorseFly™ octocopter.

UAV Video of the Week

UPS Tests Residential Delivery via Drone

 

 

UAV183 An Autonomous Taxi Drone

Dubai plans to address traffic problems with a taxi drone, the Drone Advisory Committee looks at UAS tasks, a concept for very large racing drones forms in Australia, a tower trade organization issues a UAS guidance document, investing in drone technology, an NDVI data gathering solution for growers, a Microsoft UAS simulation platform, and Amazon looks at controlled descent of ejected packages.

Ehang 184 Taxi Drone

Ehang 184 Autonomous Taxi Drone

UAV News

Dubai To Launch Flying Drone Taxis In July

By the year 2030, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wants 25 percent of all passenger trips in Dubai to be provided by autonomous vehicles. The head of Dubai’s Roads & Transportation Agency says they have been experimenting with the Ehang 184 as an autonomous taxi drone.

The single-seat taxi drone has a 30-minute flight time with a 50-kilometer range. The passenger selects the destination on a touchpad, and the drone flies there autonomously. Flights would be monitored remotely at a control room.

See the video: EHANG 184 Flight Test, published on Dec 28, 2016, and also Dubai is buying 200 Tesla vehicles as part of its ambitious self-driving taxi plan

Drone Advisory Committee Builds Consensus

At the second meeting of the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) on January 31, 2017, three draft tasking statements were reviewed:

  1. The roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local governments in regulating and enforcing drone laws.
  2. Technological and regulatory mechanisms that would allow drone operators to gain access to the airspace beyond what the agency currently permits under the Small UAS Rule.
  3. Funding to offset the cost of supporting unmanned aircraft integration into the nation’s airspace.

Giant drone racing is here, and it’s just as awesome as it sounds

Australian Chris Ballard thinks he has a better idea for the sport of drone racing. He founded startup Freedom Class Giant Drone Racing and is designing, building, and testing giant racing drones. Ballard says he’s “looking to achieve the Formula 1 of the drone-racing world.” See the video: Freedom Class Giant Drone – Initial Flight Test – January 2017.

NATE Unveils 2nd Edition of Unmanned Aerial Systems Safety Resource

The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) has released the 2nd Edition of the resource document NATE Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations Around Vertical Communications Infrastructure. [PDF] The document is intended to address UAS operations around wireless infrastructure, cellular towers, broadcast towers and utility structures. The 2nd Edition incorporates updates associated with the FAA Part 107 rules for the commercial operation of UAS.

How to Invest in Drone Technology

With DJI commanding a large market share, what other options do investors have? There are large companies in the industry, such as Lockheed Martin, GoPro, Boeing, Amazon, United Parcel Service, and Intel. There is even an exchange-traded fund. But drone component companies are another option.

Sentera Adds TrueNDVI™ to DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone

Sentera produces sensors that image Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data to help growers manage crop health. Now Sentera has announced they can convert a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone into a system that collects TrueNDVI™ crop health data. A single flight can capture visual-band RGB, near-infrared (NIR), and NDVI data.

Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform

Microsoft’s open-source Aerial Informatics and Robotics platform addresses “the large data needs for training, and the ability to debug in a simulator.” The system “provides realistic simulation tools for designers and developers to seamlessly generate the copious amounts of training data they need. In addition, the platform leverages recent advances in physics and perception computation to create accurate, real-world simulations.”

Amazon considers parachutes for drone delivered packages

Amazon has a patent for “Maneuvering a package following in-flight release from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).” Now we have the possibility of delivery drones that land, those that lower their package, and those that eject their package. The descent of ejected packages could be controlled by a parachute, landing flaps, or compressed air canisters.

Verizon Acquires Skyward to Simplify Drone Operations and Reduce Complexity for Businesses

Verizon announced a deal to buy Skyward for an undisclosed sum. The maker of drone operations software says, “Skyward’s drone operations management platform combined with Verizon’s network, reliability, trusted brand, and expertise in building enterprise solutions will help [Skyward] deliver the solutions our customers need faster than ever before.”

UAV Video of the Week

The eagles: new anti-drone weapons

Screen capture from the TF1 television newscast of 12 February 2017.

The eagles: new anti-drone weapons

The French Armed Forces are using birds of prey to capture drones in flight. The video shows how the birds are trained and how they take down drones.

Mentioned

Papa John’s Commercial 2017 Drones

Patrick sent us this commercial where pizza delivery drones run amuck.

 

 

UAV182 Super Bowl Goes Gaga Over Drones

Drones appear at the Super Bowl, Kansas wants to be an unmanned aircraft leader, UAS for newsgathering gains momentum, an unmanned air combat drone, drones that seed clouds, and those that pollinate.

Intel drones light show

Intel® Shooting Star™ drones light show at Super Bowl LI

UAV News

Lady Gaga Halftime Drone Swarm Was Pretaped to Shield Crowd

The Super Bowl LI halftime show included 300 drones choreographed by Intel. The drones were filmed in advance to comply with the requirement for no flights over people, and the TFR in effect for the event. Also, One of Amazon’s delivery drones showed up in a Super Bowl ad. In the Amazon TV commercial, an Amazon Echo is used to order Doritos from Amazon Prime Air, then the drone appears outside the window.

Kansas UAS director outlines initial drone plans

Kansas Department of Transportation’s unmanned aircraft systems director Bob Brock wants to make the state a leader in UAS technology. Brock wants to protect privacy, ensure public safety, help farmers and ranchers adopt UAS to reduce costs and increase yields, and make Kansas a leader in the UAS industry.

WBRC FOX6 News first to use drones for news, weather, traffic coverage

WBRC FOX6 News in Birmingham, Alabama now has two licensed drone pilots. They plan to use their “Sky Tracker” drone for weather and traffic coverage, newsgathering, marketing and creative services, tower inspections, and sales initiatives.

More Details Emerge On Kratos’ Optionally Expendable Air Combat Drones

Kratos Unmanned System Division (KUSD) is developing the XQ-222 unmanned air combat vehicle (UCAV). In 2016, Kratos was awarded a demonstration contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory under the Low-Cost Attritable Strike Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Demonstration (LCASD) initiative. KUSD said under the contract award, they “will design, develop, deliver, demonstrate and test a technical baseline for a high-speed, long-range, low-cost, limited life-strike UAS.”

Can drones make it rain? Nevada officials upbeat on cloud-seeding prospects

In 2016, the Nevada Institute For Autonomous Systems (NIAS) successfully tested a cloud-seeding payload flown by a fixed-wing drone. This generated a lot of interest from around the world. They expect to make major strides with cloud-seeding operations within the next few weeks.

Scientists Are Building Bee-Like Drones to Fight the Coming Bee-Pocalypse

Some data suggests that the bee population is shrinking worldwide. Bees are critical for pollination so the potential impact on crops is large. Now scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan are exploring a solution. They found that a certain sticky substance was good at picking up pollen. Then they glued animal hair to the bottom of a tiny G-Force PXY CAM drone and applied the sticky goo to the hair. Just by flying around and knocking into flowers, the drone picked up and deposited pollen grains.

UAV Videos of the Week

DARPA demonstrates SideArm UAS capture system

DARPA’s SideArm research effort seeks to create a self-contained, portable apparatus able to horizontally launch and retrieve unmanned aerial systems of up to 900 pounds. In December 2016, Aurora Flight Sciences successfully tested a full-scale technology demonstration system.

Mavic Pro on Floats

Listener Mike attended the Central Florida Mavic Owners group meet-up, and one of the guys had a Gator Skinned Mavic on floats. He recorded some video of the float Mavik with his own Mavic.

Mentioned

The  “RETREEV Compact Retrieval Tool” from TEC Accessories, a very small pocket-sized grappling hook that might be helpful to retrieving drones from trees (or your keys from a storm drain).

 

 

UAV181 Vanishing Drones

DARPA calls for drones that vanish, the U.S. Coast Guard tests the ScanEagle, more Amazon drone patents, a shortage of military drone pilots, Microsoft drones for good, the Trump administration’s regulatory policy throws confusion at the UAS industry, 3DR operates drones at the Atlanta airport, and a biometric drone based on the bat.

Otherlab is developing APSARA drones

APSARA drone, courtesy Otherlab.

UAV News

These mushroom-based drones eat themselves at mission’s end

Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems (ICARUS), is a DARPA program “driven by a vision of vanishing air vehicles that can make precise deliveries of critical supplies and then vaporize into thin air.” Small items could be supplied/resupplied to military or humanitarian assistance teams operating in difficult-to-access areas, and then the drones would dispose of themselves.

San Francisco-based R&D firm Otherlab is responding with Aerial Platform Supporting Autonomous Resupply Actions (APSARA) drones which will ultimately be made from mycelium, a mushroom-based material. See their press release, Industrial Paper Airplanes for Autonomous Aerial Delivery.

Coast Guard Conducts small Unmanned Aircraft System Testing On Cutter Stratton

USCG NSC flying ScanEagle drones

NSC and ScanEagle drone

The U.S. Coast Guard tested a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) on the national security cutter (NSC) Stratton. Deployment on Stratton planned is for this winter, initially using the ScanEagle sUAS.

USCG resources:

Amazon’s latest drone patent features foldable wings for flippable flight

Amazon has another patent for a delivery drone concept, this a foldable-wing design. With wings folded, the drone is stable on the ground for a vertical takeoff. Then the wings unfold for horizontal flight and fold again for the landing.

Amazon patent for folding wing drones

Amazon Illustration via USPTO

Another Amazon patent was recently published for a system for determining the center of gravity for a delivery drone payload. The drone can then adjust the payload position to balance itself in flight.

Air Force and Army Should Improve Strategic Human Capital Planning for Pilot Workforces

This U.S. Government Accountability Office press release states, “The Air Force and the Army have not fully applied four of the five key principles for effective strategic human capital planning for managing pilots of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that are important for resolving the Air Force’s pilot shortages and the Army’s training shortfalls.”

Microsoft’s Mosquito-Tracking Drones Could Save Lives

In 2015, Microsoft announced Project Premonitions, which envisions using drones to detect mosquito breeding areas. In June 2016, Microsoft formed the Aerial Informatics and Robotics (AIR) group. Their goal is to develop autonomous drones that use machine intelligence, robotics, and human-centered computation.

Drone Industry Fears Trump Turbulence in Rule Expanding Flights

The Trump administration first froze new regulations, then issued an executive order requiring that for every new regulation, two old ones must be identified for elimination. The impact on the drone industry is uncertain since new regulations are needed for flight over people, enabling package delivery, etc.

The FAA gave the first ever go-ahead for a drone to fly at a major airport

The FAA granted the waiver for flight in Class B airspace. 3D Robotics conducted seven flights on January 10, 2017, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The mission was data collection for a demolition project.

Video of the Week

Bat Bot Wins Flexible Flier Miles

An extremely flexible flying robot called the “Bat Bot” is made from a carbon fiber skeleton and a silicon membrane wing. This was reported in the Science Robotics article, A biomimetic robotic platform to study flight specializations of bats.

Mentioned

Drones set to invade accounting profession

 

 

UAV180 UAS Traffic Management Concepts

Concepts for UAS traffic management (UTM) in urban areas, calls for a UTM system in Australia, Flirtey raises capital, a Great Sand Dunes National Park mapping project, and visualizing the airflow around a quadcopter.

UAS Traffic Management concepts

UAS Traffic Management (UTM) concepts, courtesy AIAA

UAV News

Deciding Rules Of The Road For Urban UAS

If large numbers of drones are ever to provide delivery services in urban areas, UAS traffic management rules need to be created to safely manage the flow. From the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas, we learn about some of the concepts that NASA’s Ames Research Center is looking at for UAS traffic management in urban areas.

There are three basic concepts:

  • Sky-lanes: Vehicles must follow the centerline of each lane, and fly in one direction.
  • Sky-tubes: Vehicles move inside each tube, and fly only in one direction.
  • Sky-corridors: Vehicles can fly in any direction, but the vehicles themselves must maintain safe separation.

Time to Build an Australian National Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) System

The Association of Certified UAV Operators (ACUO) wants the Federal Government to “launch a program to design, develop and implement a continent-wide unmanned traffic management (UTM) system as the only viable means of achieving the safe integration of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS)… into national airspace.”

ACUO and others wanted the Senate to disallow the recent CASA drone regulations, and ACUO has presented a proposal: ACUO submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport [PDF].

ACUO has three major concerns:

  • How comprehensive was the risk assessment and safety case used by CASA as a basis for creating the concept of “Excluded RPA?”
  • What is the likely impact of the removal of training and certification for operators of “Excluded RPAS?”
  • What is the capacity and integrity of CASA’s own mechanisms and systems for ensuring compliance with the deregulated system.

Drone delivery startup Flirtey raises $16 million to become a next-gen UPS

Flirtey wants to be the world’s premier independent drone delivery service. Now the company has raised $16 million in Series A funding. Crunchbase Pro reports that 95 drone companies raised at least $500,000 in equity funding in 2016. The average funding was $6.8 million. Total invested was $482.8 million.

UAS Colorado Joins Wohnrade Civil Engineers for Great Sand Dunes National Park Mapping Project

A Swift Trainer fixed-wing UAS from Black Swift Technologies was used to map a portion of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The project used precision mapping with high-fidelity remote sensors to measure and monitor the dunes. Participating in the project were UAS Colorado (a non-profit business league), Black Swift Technologies, the National Park Service (NPS), and Wohnrade Civil Engineers, Inc. They plan to take the data they captured and compare it to airborne LiDAR data from the United States Geological Survey.

UAV Video of the Week

Watch Air Swirl Around a Quadcopter Drone’s Rotors

This visualization of the airflow around a DJI Phantom 3 demonstrates areas of low pressure, areas of high pressure, and disturbed air. To create the animation, a NASA aerospace engineer and a scientific visualization specialist ran a simulation on 1,024 cores of NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer. It took five days to compute. The results offer design implications for UAV efficiency and noise.

UAV179 Online UAS Training Offerings

Online UAS training from well-respected providers, a UAV traffic control project in Germany, the FAA levies the largest ever civil penalty for UAV operation, a jet-fueled UAV endurance record, and companies collaborating for agriculture applications.

Vanilla Aircraft VA001

The VA001 10-day Endurance UAS, courtesy Vanilla Aircraft

UAV News

King Schools Announces Unmanned Aircraft Knowledge Course

Embry-Riddle Offers UAV Basics Class Online

The names John and Martha King are synonymous with high-quality pilot training. Now King Schools offers a Drone Pilot Ground School and Test Prep Course that was jointly created with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The online course covers everything you need to prepare for the FAA knowledge test and costs $99.

Meanwhile, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) has a free online course February 6 through February 19 called “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) – Key Concepts for New Users.” The course will be taught in the “massive open online course” (MOOC) format and is open to an unlimited number of students, worldwide.

The ERAU course “…covers key concepts related to small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS)/recreational drones, including basic types/groups, capabilities, and current and future uses. Particular emphasis is placed on the safety of flight within the National Airspace System (NAS), including where to find the online flight planning tools to help make every flight as safe as possible. The MOOC also introduces the FAA’s new regulations (FAA Part 107) for sUAS operators who wish to operate commercially.”

Buckling Down On UAV Traffic Control

A UAV traffic control project is forming in Germany to develop technologies for the safe integration of unmanned aircraft in air traffic. Participants include air traffic control company DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung (the company in charge of air traffic control for Germany), as well as Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Post DHL Group, and RWTH Aachen University.

The project will:

  • Develop a prototype for a UAS traffic management system.
  • See if the Deutsche Telekom’s mobile network can be used to connect UAS.
  • Test package delivery in urban areas using autonomous aircraft, building on DHL’s success with the DHL Parcelcopter.
  • Investigate three UAS use cases: fire-fighting, agriculture, and logistics.

FAA and Skypan International, Inc., Reach Agreement on Unmanned Aircraft Enforcement Cases

In Episode 117 we reported that the FAA was considering a $1.9 million civil penalty against aerial photography company SkyPan International for conducting unauthorized operations over New York City and Chicago. Now the FAA and SkyPan have reached a settlement:

  • SkyPan will pay a $200,000 civil penalty and pay an additional $150,000 if it violates Federal Aviation Regulations in the next year.
  • SkyPan will work with the FAA to release three public service announcements in the next 12 months to support the FAA’s public outreach campaigns that encourage drone operators to learn and comply with UAS regulations.
  • SkyPan will pay an additional $150,000 if it fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.

Jet fuel-powered UAV completes record 56-hour flight, with plenty left in the tank

Virginia-based Vanilla Aircraft, LLC announced that their VA001 unmanned aircraft system completed a non-stop, unrefueled 56-hour flight conducted at New Mexico State University’s Unmanned Air Systems Flight Test Center. The flight was submitted for a world duration record for combustion-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the 50-500 kg subclass. The flight was planned as a 120-hour mission, but ended early due to forecasted severe icing and range restrictions. However, the VA001 landed with enough JP-8 fuel on board for an additional 90 hours of flying.

Agribotix and senseFly Announce Agricultural Drone & Data Processing Solution

Agribotix and senseFly are combining their resources to offer agriculture a professional solution. The senseFly eBee SQ fixed wing agricultural drone is designed to capture crop data across four multispectral bands, plus RGB imagery, while covering hundreds of acres in a single flight. The eBee SQ is compatible with Farm Management Information Systems (FMIS). You can find the eBee SQ on the Agribotix website, along with the Agrion quadcopter. Agribotix is strong in agricultural data acquisition and analytics.

UAV Video of the Week

Drone Trippin on AirVūz

Drone Trippin is a new series on AirVūz with four of the world’s top FPV pilots flying around gorgeous backdrops, ripping through abandoned structures, and racing through breathtaking locations. Started December 2016. AirVūz was launched in late 2015 as a video-sharing platform for the drone community. It includes user-generated content and original programming.

Mentioned

Top Drone Websites On The Internet 2017

 

 

 

UAV178 GoPro Karma Drone to be Relaunched

GoPro will relaunch its Karma foldable drone, FAA approves Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) operations at a UAS test site, a drone strike on an airliner proves to be false, a new droneport is taking shape, a Canadian company offers fuel cell-powered drones, and autonomous drone swarming is a success.

EnergyOr H2Quad 1000 drone

The H2Quad 1000 fuel cell-powered drone, courtesy EnergyOr

UAV News

GoPro is relaunching its Karma drone after an embarrassing recall

GoPro Karma drone

The GoPro Karma drone

The new GoPro Karma foldable drone was quickly recalled shortly after becoming available last year. GoPro CEO Nick Woodman says that the drones loss of power and subsequent dive was caused by a “basic battery retention issue.” Details of the Karma relaunch are expected in February 2017.

 

Nation’s first BVLOS UAS operations approved

The FAA has granted the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in North Dakota approval to operate large unmanned aircraft beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS). The UAS test site can use ground-based sense-and-avoid technologies to phases in BVLOS operations.

African airline reports drone collision with passenger jet

African airline LAM said a Boeing 737-700 on approach at about 4,000 feet was struck by a drone. Widely published photographs showed the damaged nose. Subsequently, the Aviation Herald published Incident: LAM B737 at Tete on Jan 5th 2017, radome structural failure. After its investigation, Mozambique’s Civil Aviation Authority says most likely the radome experienced a structural failure, not a foreign object strike.

Eldorado Droneport Design Revealed

Specific plans for privately operated Eldorado Droneport have been announced. Aerodrome will offer UAS training, FAA repairman and pilot certification and testing, and other educational, research and development services for commercial and recreational drone operators. Plans for the 50-acre site include a 15,000 square foot terminal building; 860,000 square feet facilities for research and development, warehousing, hangar, office, and training; and “build-to-suit” opportunities.

French Air Force Gets Fuel Cell Powered Quad

The French Air Force is acquiring the H2Quad 1000 drone from Montreal-based EnergyOr Technologies inc. EnergyOr says “the fuel cell/battery hybrid system has been optimized based on extensive UAV flight testing in several different platform configurations. It has been tested in widely varying environmental conditions and can meet the rigorous demands of operational UAVs.”

US demos ‘one of the world’s largest’ micro-UAV swarms

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is continuing to develop autonomous swarming drones.

Originally designed at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in 2013, the Perdix micro-drones have been air-dropped from an F-16 in 2014, and an F/A-18 in 2016. In its Perdix Fact Sheet [PDF], DOD says:

“Perdix are not preprogrammed, synchronized individuals.  They share a distributed brain for decision‐making and adapt to each other, and the environment, much like swarms in nature. Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to changes in drone numbers. This allows this team of small inexpensive drones to perform missions once done by large expensive ones.”

Capturing the Swarm

The CBS television program 60 Minutes was allowed to film a swarm of 100 Perdix autonomous drones. The number of drones, their speed, and their unpredictable behavior made capturing them on video more difficult than anticipated!

UAV Video of the Week

One man’s mission to walk the Great Wall of China with a drone

 

 

 

UAV177 FPV Flying Wings

The owner of an FPV flying wing company describes their design, construction, and applications. In the news, Amazon patents a floating warehouse concept, and the EU moves closer to an RPAS regulations roadmap.

Ruben Jauregui, owner of SweepWingsRC

Ruben Jauregui, owner of SweepWingsRC

Guest

Ruben Jauregui is the owner of SweepWingsRC, a maker of FPV flying wings. In 2010, Ruben received a little UMX Vapor indoor flyer and over time he grew more interested in RC flying. He built his own RC aircraft in 2011, and then FPV flying wings came along for him in 2012. He soon went out and sourced the materials to make his own wings. By 2013, Ruben had made and tested his own design and came up with the name for his brand. By 2014, Ruben was officially a small company owner.

We talk about flying wing design, construction, and applications. Ruben tells us how flying wings and multirotors differ from the operator’s perspective. He describes his flying wing designs, their payload capabilities, and the impressive speeds they can reach.

SweepWingsRC videos:

FPV Paradise – Hawaii – Flying Wing

FPV Paradise Tour – Las Vegas – Sweepwings

Sweepwings at Drone World’s – Hawaii 2016

UAV News

Amazon patent hints at floating warehouses in the sky

The patent, Airborne fulfillment center utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles for item delivery, describes “an airborne fulfillment center (‘AFC’) and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (‘UAV’) to deliver items from the AFC to users. For example, the AFC may be an airship that remains at a high altitude (e.g., 45,000 feet) and UAVs with ordered items may be deployed from the AFC to deliver ordered items to user designated delivery locations. As the UAVs descend, they can navigate horizontally toward a user specified delivery location using little to no power, other than to stabilize the UAV and/or guide the direction of descent. Shuttles (smaller airships) may be used to replenish the AFC with inventory, UAVs, supplies, fuel, etc. Likewise, the shuttles may be utilized to transport workers to and from the AFC.”

Roadmap for drone operations in the European Union (EU), The roll-out of the EU operation centric approach [PDF]

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Europe is working on the preparation of a Specific Operation Risk Assessment (SORA), and Operations Manual. RPAS Regulations is a guide to international rules and regulations for remotely piloted aircraft systems. (Note this is a restricted access site – registration is required.)

UAV Video of the Week

BMT UAV performs perched landing using machine learning algorithms

sUAS News reports that the University of Bristol in partnership with BMT Defence Services (BMT) has used machine learning algorithms to allow a UAV to make a perched landing.

Video: Learning to perch a UAV on the ground using deep reinforcement learning

Mentioned

Drone delivery makes it into a Garfield cartoon.

 

 

UAV176 The Ion Tiger Fuel Cell-Powered Drone

The Naval Research Laboratory powers a drone with a new fuel cell design, an Amazon patent to identify threats to drones, PrecisionHawk reports on BVLOS technology needs, and the FAA drone registration system reaches its one-year anniversary.

NRL Ion Tiger

Members of the chemistry and tactical electronic warfare divisions from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory with the Ion Tiger unmanned air vehicle. Photo courtesy U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

News

NRL completes first flight of UAV with custom hydrogen fuel cell

Fuel Cell

Scheme of a proton-conducting fuel cell, courtesy Wikipedia.

 

A team from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed and flown the Ion Tiger powered by a new hydrogen fuel cell developed at NRL. The program manager at the Office of Naval Research said, “NRL having the know how to build their own fuel cells in-house gives ONR and the U.S. Navy the understanding and tools needed for transitioning fuel cells to the fleet.”

 

Amazon gets US patent for ‘countermeasures’ to protect drone delivery

Amazon was awarded a technology patent for a system of “countermeasures of threats to an uncrewed autonomous vehicle.”  The system is based on a mesh network and communication between multiple drones that detect possible signs of a compromise.

Precisionhawk Research Outlines Operations Risk for Drones Flying Beyond Line of Sight

Under the FAA Pathfinder Program, PrecisionHawk’s Phase 2 research indicates technology assist is critical for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. PrecisionHawk found that human control is subject to variability and cannot be relied upon exclusively for safe BVLOS flight. Good situational awareness technology is also needed.

Drone Registration Marks First Anniversary

December 21, 2016, marked the one-year anniversary of the FAA web-based drone registration system. More than 600,000 owners have registered and the FAA calls the system “an unqualified success.” Also, “The rule and the registration system were primarily aimed at the thousands of drone hobbyists who had little or no experience with the U.S. aviation system. The agency saw registration as an excellent way to give them a sense of responsibility and accountability for their actions. The agency wanted them to feel they are part of the aviation community, to see themselves as pilots.”

One-Year Anniversary of the FAA’s Drone Registry

Videos of the Week

Watch the 6 Most Innovative Drone Videos of 2016

Time selected six drone videos they considered to be those that most challenged our perspectives:

  1. The Nature Video Perfected
  2. The Destruction of Aleppo
  3. The Construction of Apple Campus 2
  4. The Tight Squeeze Approach
  5. The Single Shot Approach
  6. The Top Down Approach

Human Flying Drone

This super heavy lift multirotor has enough power to lift a man. Filmed in Finland. Be sure to also watch the “behind the scenes” video.