Category Archives: Episodes

UAV211 Matternet Autonomous Drone Network

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.

The Matternet Station for deliveries by autonomous drone. Courtesy Matternet.

UAV News

The first autonomous drone delivery network will fly above Switzerland starting next month

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]

The Matternet Station

3 Reasons Why the Drone Industry Is Hiring Thousands of New Workers

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.

Risks vary widely in drone-human impacts

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.

Virginia Tech dummy

Virginia Tech dummy hits

Images courtesy Virginia Tech.

Sharper Shape and SkySkopes Successfully Execute First Transmission Line Cable Construction Mission using Drones

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.

Sock Pulling Sharper Shape

Volz Servos’ DA 15-N Actuators have been Successfully Flying in Aerosonde Mk4.7 SUAS since 2010 Achieving Over 200,000 Flight Hours

Textron Systems Unmanned Systems division has been flying the Aerosonde Mk4.7 Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) since 2010 in support of U.S. DoD ISR services contracts. Powered by a Lycoming EL-005 engine, the Mk4.7 is designed for expeditionary land- and sea-based operations. Volz Servos’ DA 15-N actuators have performed for over 200,000 flight hours.

The Littlest Lycoming, EL-005

Skyward Webinar: How to Plan and Budget for Your Drone Program

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.

 

 

 

UAV210 A Global Drone Registry

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.

The Skyfront Tailwind hybrid-electric drone. Courtesy Skyfront.

UAV News

U.N. aviation agency to call for global drone registry

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.”

Skyfront Boasts Multi-Rotor UAV Flight of More Than 4.5 Hours

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.

An Important Message about Drone360

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.

From cell phones to drones, 5G connectivity is changing the game

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).

FAA Works with Florida Drone Operators to Speed Hurricane Recovery

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.

New swarming drone technology could help find lost hikers, study wildlife

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.

UAV209 Drones for Disaster Relief

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.

UAV News

Amateur Drones Over Houston Endangering Rescue Choppers, Officials Say

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.”

Amid Warnings, Drones Respond to Hurricane Harvey Aftermath

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.”

Drones and their pilots get a closer look at havoc caused by Harvey

droneUp matches drone pilots with appropriate agencies for disaster relief.

Drones for disaster relief

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.

Is DRONEFAX the New Craigslist for UAS?

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.

Drone park takes flight

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.

Drones edging out helicopter film pilots, videographers

Some videographers are losing their jobs because major motion picture producers are using drones instead of helicopters. Drones are safer and significantly less expensive than helicopters.

UMaine Augusta’s new drone course training aces for a growing industry

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.

Drones Are Helping a Massive Chinese Factory Town Fight Pollution

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.

Videos of the Week

Drone Funny Footage Fail

My favorite drone fails compilation!

Feedback

Listener Steve captures the flight of an RC airplane with his DJI Mavic:

RC Flying with Richard

A week later the two aircraft met up again but with different results:

RC Flying with Richard – Part 2

 

UAV208 The Bladeless Drone

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.

The Edgar Herrera designed bladeless drone concept.

UAV News

The Dyson of Drones

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.

2017 Women to Watch in UAS

Drone360 magazine and Women and Drones announced the 2017 Women to Watch in UAS List. Nine women were chosen “for their work disrupting, innovating, and shaping the future of the UAS industry.”  The women are:

  • Holly Kasun, COO/CMO and Cofounder of Flybrix based in San Francisco, CA.
  • Mary Wohnrade, Civil engineer, Part 107 operator, and President/Owner of Wohnrade Civil Engineers, based in Broomfield, CO.
  • Karen Joyce, Scientist and Senior Lecturer at James Cook University, Cofounder of She Flies, based in Queensland, Australia.
  • Lexie Janson, FPV drone racer, software developer, drone certification teacher based in Gdynia, Poland.
  • Natalie Cheung, General Manager of Drone Light Shows in the UAV Group at Intel based in Santa Clara, CA.
  • Catherine Ball, Cofounder of World of Drones Congress, Cofounder and Chief Engagement Officer at She Flies, Founder and Publisher of Gumption Trigger, based in Queensland, Australia.
  • Helena Samsioe, Founder and CEO of GLOBHE based in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Gretchen West, Senior Advisor at Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, Co-Executive Director at the Commercial Drone Alliance, and Cofounder of Women of Commercial Drones, based in Menlo Park, CA.
  • Leah LaSalla, Technical Founder and CEO at Astral AR based in Austin, TX.

FAA Supports Drone Assessments for Houston Response and Recovery

As of August 31, 2017, the FAA had issued 43 unmanned aircraft system authorizations to drone operators supporting the response and recovery for Hurricane Harvey or covering it as part of the media.

DJI will ground Spark drones on September 1st unless owners install an update

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.

See the DJI press release: DJI Spark Firmware Update Enhances Flight Safety

Border Patrol Spots Meth-Carrying UAV in San Diego

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.

Would Video Gamers Make Better Unmanned Aircraft Pilots Than Actual Pilots?

Psychologists at the University of Liverpool in the UK conducted a study. “Findings support the idea that VGPs (video game players) could be considered a resource in UAS operation.” The report is published in the journal Cogent Psychology: Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operators’ accuracy and confidence of decisions: Professional pilots or video game players?

Look for Military Drones to Begin Replacing Police Helicopters by 2025

Defense contractors see a market opportunity for large military-style drones to be used instead of police helicopters. General Atomics is investing in a new version of the Reaper.

Alexa-enabled Amazon drones could talk with customers when delivering packages

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.

UAV Video of the Week

RDDC2016: Bladeless Drone

Photos of the Week

Solar Eclipse, Cerulean, KY by Max Flight

Solar Eclipse, Cerulean, KY by Max Flight

Reaper by David Vanderhoof

Reaper by David Vanderhoof

 

 

UAV207 Drone Racing with the Pro Aerial League

A new drone racing league takes shape, an unmanned aircraft vehicle traffic management system is planned for Kansas, Northrop Grumman’s MQ-25 drone tanker testbed was spotted, a Phantom landed on an aircraft carrier, DJI responds to issues over data transmission, and drones assist in a rescue mission.

The RIOT 250R for the PAL drone racing league.

The RIOT 250R Pro racing drone. Courtesy Thrust-UAV.

UAV News

Professional drone racers start new league with six teams and big inaugural event in Everett arena

The Pro Aerial League (PAL) is a new drone racing organization that will feature indoor spectator events with six teams, each with six pilots. Pilots will race RIOT 250R Pro racing drones from Thrust-UAV through multiple types of challenges in order to determine the best team in terms of speed, skill, and strategy. The inaugural event is August 19, 2017, at the Xfinity Arena in Everett, Washington.

Riot 250R Pro by Thrust UAV Commercial

AirMap Takes Flight with Kansas

AirMap announced a partnership with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to deploy the AirMap platform across the state. Their goal is “to open more airspace for drone operations, support Kansas’ growing community of drone operators, and ensure that the skies are safer for all.” The AirMap platform will be available to Kansas airports, state colleges and universities, and government agencies.

AirMap is one of the 12 companies assembled by the FAA for LAANC, the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, providing automated notification for flight in U.S. controlled airspace. A list of the initial 50 airports is available in Coming This Fall: Automated Airspace Authorization at U.S. Airports.

Northrop Grumman MQ-25 Drone Tanker Testbed Emerges At Plant 42 In California

Development contracts were previously awarded to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, and Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray drone. The MQ-25 Stingray is a carrier-launched tanker designed to extend the combat range of carrier aircraft. Aviation Week is now showing a low-quality photograph of what it says is Northrop Grumman’s modified X-47B flying test bed as part of its MQ-25 bid.

A drone landed on Britain’s biggest warship and nobody cared

A “Black Isle Images” photographer landed a DJI Phantom on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. The landing was unintentional and the Phantom landed itself after sensing high winds. The photographer presented himself to the armed guards, but “no one seemed too concerned.” He also gave the authorities his phone number, but nobody called.

DJI Develops Option For Pilots To Fly Without Internet Data Transfer

DJI announced on August 14, 2017, that it is “developing a new local data mode that stops internet traffic to and from its flight control apps, in order to provide enhanced data privacy assurances for sensitive government and enterprise customers.” In local data mode, DJI apps will stop sending or receiving any data over the internet. That includes relevant local maps and geofencing data, the latest software updates, correct radio frequency and power requirements, and newly-issued flight restrictions.

First drone-assisted rescue in Southside a high-flying success

A logger on the Dan River in Virginia was pinned down by a tree. As the Danville Life Saving Crew traveled to the location, they created a plan that included using their drones. Just last month, they had received training to become certified drone operators, and on arrival at the scene, the drones were deployed to assist in making the operation safer. Danville Life Saving Crew assistant director Bryan Fox said, “We were able to navigate the boats around some circumstances in the water, some debris, rock formations, that [the rescuers] didn’t see from the boat as they were trying to navigate.”

UAV Video of the Week

On Sunday, July 2, 2017, a drone was spotted on the approach path to Gatwick Airport. This is the disruption it caused.

Gatwick drone incident – 2 July

 

UAV206 DJI and Data Security

DJI drones come under attack for data transmissions, the U.S. Army responds, military installations get approval to take down drones, a Navy fighter is forced to take evasive action, automated approval to fly in airport airspace, and thrust-assisted perching.

DJI Phantom 4 Advanced

Phantom 4 Advanced, courtesy DJI.

UAV News

Drone Data Security

sUAS News describes the data they say is collected during the flight of a DJI drone, logged into your DJI Go app, and transmitted back to DJI Servers.

US Army calls for units to discontinue use of DJI equipment

The U.S. Department of the Army issued a “Memorandum for Record” directing military installations to “Cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction.” This is in reaction to U.S. Army Research Lab and U.S. Navy studies that concluded there are operational risks associated with DJI equipment.

A government study found DJI drone, banned by US Army, kept data safe

In October 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tested a DJI DJI S-1000 using a packet sniffer to monitor transmissions between the drone and the computer. NOAA’s report states that “The majority of transactions to the DJI servers were to login to DJI servers hosted at both Amazon Web Services and Linode to check for software updates. These transactions are quite common for software of this type, and nothing unusual was detected during the experiment.” Further, “There was no evidence whatsoever of any attempt by any software to transfer any data from the aircraft.”

However, one of the authors of the NOAA study observed a different result when he tested personal Phantom 3. The Phantom was sending encrypted data back to DJI servers.

New policy: Military bases can shoot down trespassing drones

In July, a classified policy was sent to the services from the Pentagon. More recently unclassified guidance was sent concerning how to communicate the new policy to local communities. Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said military installations “retain the right of self-defense when it comes to UAVs or drones operating over [them.] The new guidance does afford of the ability to take action to stop these threats and that includes disabling, destroying and tracking.”

Iranian drone forces US jet to take evasive action

A Navy F/A-18 had to make an evasive maneuver while trying to land on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. An Iranian QOM-1 drone came within 100 feet below the F/A-18 and 200 feet to the side.

50 Airports Across the U.S. to Adopt Automated Airspace Authorizations for Drones

The FAA Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) page says, “The FAA is currently in acquisition for the first step of a UTM system, the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), which supports air traffic control authorization requirements for UAS operations conducted under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (part 101e) and the Small UAS Rule (part 107). The current airport notification and airspace authorization processes are manual for the small UAS. LAANC will provide part 101 & 107 UAS operators a streamlined solution to enable real time automated notification and authorization.”

Now fifty airports will start using LAANC in Autumn 2017. UAS operators will be able to apply for automated authorizations to fly in controlled airspace around those airports.

UAV Video of the Week

Innovative Vertical-Landing Drone Can Stick to Walls Like a Fly

Researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada have developed the fixed-wing Multimodal Autonomous Drone (S-MAD) that is capable of repeated perching and take-off cycles.

The S-MAD: A Drone Landing on Walls Like a Bird

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UAV205 Smith College Drone Class

Max and @dronemama visit Smith College and talk to the summer drone class, 3DR and DJI join resources, drones assist with invasive snakes, Farmers Insurance expands the use of UAS, and a drone privacy spat on Twitter.

Max speaks with students at the Smith College Drone Class.

Max speaks with students at the Smith College Drone Class.

Drone Class at Smith College

Jon Caris and Max Flight

Jon Caris, Director at Smith College Spatial Analysis Lab (L) and Max.

Max spoke to the SSEP Drone Class at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. The class is part of the College’s Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP), a four-week residential program for exceptional young women with strong interests in science, engineering, and medicine. High school students from across the United States and abroad do hands-on research with Smith faculty in the life and physical sciences and in engineering.


The young women are building quadcopters in the Smith College Spatial Analysis Lab where they learn about drone laws and regulations, applications of the technology, flight mechanics and piloting skills, photogrammetry and image processing, and of course drone safety. The students are highly engaged, and this program is a wonderful opportunity for them.

Drone class students at Smith College

Smith College drone class students.

UAV News

America’s top drone company couldn’t beat China’s DJI, so now they’re partners

3D Robotics announced that they are entering into a partnership with DJI and will integrate their Site Scan software with DJI drones. This is an enterprise solution for industries like construction, insurance, surveying & mapping, utilities, and telecom. Sales at 3DR were not up to expectations and the company consumed $100M in venture capital trying to compete. Now, 3DR will focus on software instead of hardware.

3DR Site Scan data capture technology can use 3DR (with Sony R10C) or DJI (Phantom 4 Pro) vehicles and operate in four autonomous flight modes for data capture. Data is uploaded to the cloud and can be processed by Pix4D and Autodesk ReCap. The service includes complimentary drone replacement for accidents and malfunctions.

VolAero Drones Starts Python Tracking Project In Everglades Using Thermal Technology

The population of non-native Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades has exploded to the point where they are a threat to the small mammal population. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the South Florida Water Management District are now looking to professional drone services company VolAero Drones and drone imaging technologies to help manage the situation.

Farmers Insurance launches drone program with Kespry

Farmers Insurance is expanding their use of UAS for residential property damage assessments. The company is looking for faster inspection times with fewer safety risks for field adjusters. Drones from Kespry will “gather rooftop imagery and data, generate analytic reports, supplement ladder assist capabilities, and resolve more claims with greater efficiency and accuracy.” The FAA-licensed drone operators will be Farmers’ own claims professionals.

Kentucky governor says news station drone invaded privacy

Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted: “The drone that was just flying over my home & filming my children was personally flown by @WDRBNews Director.” WDRB news director Barry Fulmer followed with his own tweet: “.@GovMattBevin WDRB was flying a drone in accordance to the FAA rules to cover news happening at your home. There is NO video of children.”

UAV Video of the Week

Drone captures mesmerizing footage of hundreds of fish on pink salmon run

Video captured by Danny Sanford in Hartney Bay in Cordova, Alaska.

UAV204 Drone Registration Planned for the UK

The UK plans to require registration for drones over 250 grams, a study looks at drone strikes on aircraft windscreens, a transformable UAV is under development, Airbus tested their Sagitta demonstrator, some DJI Sparks are experiencing a problem, and draft Technical Standard Orders win AOPA approval.

The Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR)

The Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR)

UAV News

Drones to be registered and users to sit safety tests under new government rules

Drone registration is coming to the UK, along with drone safety awareness tests. This will apply to drones over 250 grams. Operators may be able to register online or with an app. The government also plans for expanded use of geofencing in the UK.

Drones and manned aircraft collisions: test results

The summary report from the Department for Transport, British Airline Pilots’ Association, and the Military Aviation Authority says drones weighing 400 grams could damage windscreens. Airliner windscreens were found to be more resistant than helicopter windscreens.

The Small Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (drones): Mid-Air Collision Study [PDF] was conducted by QinetiQ and Natural Impacts using laboratory collision testing and computer modelling. The study aimed to find the lowest speed at collision where critical damage could occur to aircraft components. Critical damage was defined in this study to mean major structural damage of the aircraft component or penetration of drone through the windscreen into the cockpit. The study indicated that:

  • Non-birdstrike certified helicopter windscreens have very limited resilience to the impact of a drone, well below normal cruise speeds.
  • The non-birdstrike certified helicopter windscreen results can also be applied to general aviation aeroplanes which also do not have a birdstrike certification requirement.
  • Although the birdstrike certified windscreens tested had greater resistance than non-birdstrike certified, they could still be critically damaged at normal cruise speeds.
  • Helicopter tail rotors are also very vulnerable to the impact of a drone, with modelling showing blade failures from impacts with the smaller drone components tested.
  • Airliner windscreens are much more resistant, however, the study showed that there is a risk of critical windscreen damage under certain impact conditions: It was found that critical damage did not occur at high, but realistic impact speeds, with the 1.2 kg class drone components. However, critical damage did occur to the airliner windscreens at high, but realistic, impact speeds, with the 4 kg class drone components used in this study.
  • The construction of the drone plays a significant role in the impact of a collision. Notably, the 400 g class drone components, which included exposed metal motors, caused critical failure of the helicopter windscreens at lower speeds than the 1.2 kg class drone components, which had plastic covering over their motors. This is believed to have absorbed some of the shock of the collision, reducing the impact.
  • The testing and modelling showed that the drone components used can cause significantly more damage than birds of equivalent masses at speeds lower than required to meet birdstrike certification standards.

The THOR Hybrid UAV

A team of students at the Singapore University of Technology and Design is developing the Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR). The prototype is based on the single-blade monocopter concept from 1913, although THOR actually has two opposing wings, mounted at right angles to each other. The wings rotate into alignment when transitioning from hover to cruise. See episode #48 Evan Ulrich and his RoboSeed for our previous conversation about a monocopter UAV.

Video: SUTD Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR)

Successful first flight for UAV demonstrator SAGITTA

Airbus Defence and Space has flown their demonstrator Sagitta UAV. The 25 percent scale fixed-wing aircraft is powered by two turbine engines. It was developed in cooperation with a number of industry and academic partners.

Some DJI Spark drones are falling from the sky, and that’s to be expected

Complaints have appeared in DJI forums that some of the new Spark drones are shutting down and falling from the sky. DJI has issued a statement:

“DJI is aware of a small number of reports involving Spark drones that have lost power mid-flight. Flight safety and product reliability are top priorities. Our engineers are thoroughly reviewing each customer case and working to address this matter urgently. DJI products are tested for thousands of hours, and the overwhelming number of customers enjoy using our products with minimal disruption.”

AOPA Backs Unmanned System Standards

Two draft TSOs (Technical Standard Orders) have been issued that would apply to unmanned aircraft transitioning to and from Class A and special-use airspace, and traversing other types of airspace. The TSOs are meant to determine minimum standards that allow manned and unmanned aircraft to remain safely separated. The draft standards would not apply to small UAS – those under 55 pounds and governed by Part 107.

TSO-C211, Detect and Avoid (DAA) Systems [PDF]

TSO-C212, Air-to-Air Radar (ATAR) for Traffic Surveillance [PDF]

UAV Video of the Week

Soccer fans use toilet roll to take down drone in Argentina

 

 

 

UAV203 Warm Springs FAA UAS Test Range

The Test Range Manager of the Warm Springs FAA UAS Test Range joins us as our guest.

Warm Springs FAA UAS Test Range

Warm Springs FAA UAS Test Range

Guest

Liz Stalford is the FAA UAS Test Range Manager for the Warm Springs – University of Alaska, Fairbanks Pan Pacific Unmanned Test Range Complex (PPUTRC). The complex is one of six official FAA test sites in the United States. It spans seven climate zones, allowing UAS manufacturers and potential users to test their equipment in the Arctic, the tropics, and arid environments.

Warm Springs FAA UAS Test Range Manager Liz Stalford

Liz Stalford

Liz describes the unique capabilities of the Warm Springs FAA UAS Test Range and what it can offer to clients. She tells us about the types of operations being conducted at Warm Springs, as well as their recent expansion of operations to Prineville and Madras Airports. In addition to many U.S. clients, the test range is seeing interest from other countries. See: UAS range working to sign Flyox.


Liz is a commercial pilot with multi-engine, seaplane, and instructor ratings. She has High Performance, Complex, and Tailwheel endorsements. Liz also has military unmanned aircraft experience providing surrogate MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper close air support to the United States Air Force’s 548th and 549th Combat Training Squadrons during Green Flag pre-deployment exercises.

Previously, Liz was general manager and chief pilot for the manned and unmanned flight departments at ArrowData. That aerospace and data services company specializes in persistent data collection, transmission, analytics, and distribution services.

Video of the Week

LT Juan Guerra, MD, the US Navy Blue Angels Flight Surgeon, uses a 3DR Solo with GPH4B to take aerial shots of air show center points inside the TFR with the permission of the Air Boss of the shows. Follow Juan on Instagram at navyblueangeldoc.

Mentioned

SOAR Oregon

A statewide, not for profit Economic Development organization focused on the development of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry in Oregon.

 

UAV202 Piaggio HammerHead Testing Resumes

A year after the crash of the prototype, testing of the Piaggio HammerHead UAS is underway again. We also look at drones and field biology, security, and swarming technology.

The Piaggio Aerospace P.1HH HammerHead

The P.1HH HammerHead UAS, courtesy Piaggio Aerospace.

UAV News

Piaggio Aerospace Resumes Test Flights of Hammerhead UAV

In May 2016, the prototype Piaggio Aerospace P.1HH HammerHead UAV crashed off the coast of Sicily. Reportedly, there were flight control system integration problems. Testing has now resumed and eight systems are to be delivered to the United Arab Emirates. The MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) Hammerhead is derived from the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II business aviation aircraft, a twin turboprop pusher aircraft.

Drones hunt down rare plants in Hawaii by going where people can’t

GIS specialist Ben Nyberg is the lead drone pilot for the National Tropical Botanical Garden. While flying a drone at a 1,000-acre preserve in Hawaii, he discovered a very rare plant on a steep, inaccessible cliff. Less than 25 of these plants were thought to exist. With the drone, they discovered about 10 more of these plants, as well as several other critically endangered plants.

Homeland Security concerned about commercial drones being used for ‘nefarious purposes’

According to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson, “DHS does consider commercial drones configured or modified to employ explosives or weapons a concern. This is due to low-cost, ease of access, and the quick-pace of this evolving technology to adapt beneficial Unmanned System equipment for nefarious purposes.” The US Army has published a 13-page document, Counter – Unmanned Aircraft System Strategy Extract [PDF].

USAF calls for drone defences after F-22 overflight

Drones are being spotted around military aircraft in the U.S. and the Air Combat Command has no authority to deal with them. It’s a civil authority that has to be granted first before it can be executed by military forces.

DJI Is Locking Down Its Drones Against a Growing Army of DIY Hackers

People have found ways to get around DJI’s flight restrictions and they’ve published the exploits online. DJI updated their software to break the hacks, but that just leads to another round in the battle.

Micro Systems Develops New Drone Swarming Technology

Kratos Defense and Security Solutions subsidiary Micro Systems announced its WOLF-PAK swarming technology. There is no centralized control system and the swarm of autonomous vehicles follows a leader vehicle. Vehicles recognize and locate each other and keep a predefined distance apart.

WOLF-PAK demonstration video:

 

 

Walmart commissioning Griffiss for drone delivery research

Walmart has reportedly been working with one of the UAS test sites to develop drone-based package delivery. But now the retailer is additionally engaging the UAS test site in upstate New York.

Mentioned

The DronesGlobal Slack Team is a members-only Slack team “for commercial drone operators, manufacturers, buyers, suppliers and experts from around the world.” There is a one-time fee of $49 and applications are subject to approval.

Your AOPA membership will get you 20% off the Drone World Expo conference or a free Expo pass. To be held October 3-4, 2017, at the San Jose Convention Center in the Capital of Silicon Valley.

Can I fly there? Is a drone safety app from CASA. It reflects the standard operating conditions for those flying their drone commercially (under the excluded category of commercial operations) and is a valuable educational and situational awareness tool for both commercial and recreational drone flyers.

XKCD provides another good drone comic.

FlytBase Inc. is a Silicon Valley startup creating developer tools for intelligent and connected commercial drones. They say their FlytBase Cloud platform helps developers connect drones with cloud-based business applications over a real-time secure link. It provides access to real-time drone control, telemetry and payload data.

FlytBase Cloud: Internet of Drones Platform