Category Archives: Episodes

UAV191 A Mountain Search and Rescue Drone

A drone for high altitude mountain search and rescue, a package delivery plan for Singapore, a “flying cell site” using a long endurance drone, and a growing market for anti-drone products.

The HyDrone 1550 hydrogen powered drone

HyDrone 1550, courtesy MMC.

UAV News

Hydrogen Drone, HyDrone 1550, Successfully Tested at High Altitudes

The MMC hydrogen-powered HyDrone 1550 has been tested at altitudes over 14,000 feet in cold and mountainous Yunnan Province, China. The HyDrone 1550 can operate in environments where other drones cannot, making it good for mountain search and rescue.

Airbus and Singpost testing last-mile drone package delivery

Singapore Post signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus Helicopters to conduct research and testing for drone package delivery. SingPost becomes a partner under the Airbus Helicopter Skyways package delivery project for urban environments. A trial at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is planned for early 2018 where autonomous drones will fly in pre-defined routes and drop off packages across the campus. More at the Airbus Future of Urban Mobility webpage.

Verizon Tests New Drone To Deliver 4G LTE Service

Verizon conducted an engineering flight test of Airborne LTE in order to find the size of the wireless coverage area that can be created by a drone. The “flying cell site” was conducted with an American Aerospace RS-20 long endurance drone at Woodbine Municipal Airport in New Jersey.

Anti-Drone Market Analysis By Mitigation Type (Destructive, Non-Destructive), By Defense Type (Detection & Disruption, Detection), By End-Use (Military & Defense, Commercial, Government), By Region And Segment Forecasts, 2014 – 2024

Grand View Research, Inc. reports that they expect the global anti-drone market to reach USD 1.85 billion by 2024. As UAVs are becoming stealthier, faster, smaller, and cheaper, threats and nuisance are expected to increase. Anti-drone technology is receiving a lot of investment in areas such as acoustic signature and visual identification, and electronic countermeasures. The full report is available for purchase.

Why drones could be a better solution than a wall on the US-Mexico border

What is less expensive and more effective, a wall or a lot of drones?

UAV Video of the Week

Lilium shows maiden flight of world’s first working prototype of an electric VTOL jet

Mentioned

Drone targets Singapore Airlines A350

A drone reportedly came within 300 feet of a Singapore Airlines A350.

 

UAV190 The Application of ADS-B to Drones

Putting ADS-B on small drones, faster and more agile drones for the Drone Racing League, speeding up Part 107 approvals at the FAA, and equipping U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents with sUAS.

ping ADS-B transceivers and transponders

ping ADS-B transceivers and transponders shown to scale with a DJI Matrice 100. Courtesy uAvionix.

Interview

Tim Trott, “The Drone Professor,” talks with Ryan Reed from uAvionix at the 2017 Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In Expo held April 4-9, 2017 in Lakeland, Florida. They discuss the emerging ADS-B options for drones, and how uAvionix is addressing the problems of spectrum congestion and screen clutter.

UAV News

ESPN’s Drone Racing League returns with faster, bigger races

The Drone Racing League is introducing the Racer3 drone for season two. All competing pilots will use the Racer3, which is more powerful and agile than the Racer2. The new drone features 209 LED lights with a built-in LED matrix display, a custom 1,800mA battery, and proprietary internal long range radios for live events and broadcast.

In DRL’s next-gen Racer3 drone combines speed, performance, ESPN quotes DRL founder and CEO Nick Horbaczewski: “It is dramatically more powerful, faster and more agile than the Racer2. The Racer3 can go from zero to 80 miles an hour in less than a second, which means it can basically accelerate on a dime — which makes for really exciting racing and allowed us to create larger courses, more extreme courses.”

Races air on ESPN starting June 20, 2017.

FAA Will Release Maps to Speed up Drone Authorization Applications

The FAA wants to help drone operators improve the quality of their Part 107 airspace authorization requests, and speed up the processing of requests. On April 27, 2017, the FAA plans to release a set of UAS facility maps that show areas and altitudes near airports where UAS may operate safely. These maps will be available at http://www.faa.gov/uas for download in several formats and can be viewed on mobile devices.

Drone pilots can refer to the facility maps and align their applications with altitudes that the maps indicate are likely to be approved for small UAS operations. This simplifies the process and increases the likelihood that the FAA will approve the requests.

The US Border Patrol is trying to build face-reading drones

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is soliciting proposals for small UAS to be used by Border Patrol agents in the field. They are looking for drones that can be carried in a truck, deployed by a single Border Patrol agent in under 5 minutes, include sensors such as infrared cameras and facial-recognition, and distinguish between people, animals, and vehicles. CBP expects to be able to cross-reference drone observations with law enforcement databases.

UAV Video of the Week

Safety Drone?!? Check out the Tracker Drone Bojiang S5C-2 Review – TheRcSaylors

The RcSaylors YouTube channel covers RC, but they frequently provide consumer drone unboxings, reviews, and giveaways.

 

 

UAV189 The LightningStrike XV-24A VTOL UAS

XV-24A VTOL UAS subscale vehicle demonstrator

XV-24A subscale vehicle demonstrator. (Courtesy Aurora Flight Sciences.)

A successful test flight program for a VTOL UAS, an autonomous drone system gets an authorization to fly, the insurance industry advances drone use for structure inspections, UK drone reports increase, and drone weaponization for law enforcement.

UAV News

Aurora’s massive LightningStrike VTOL UAV just got one step closer to reality

The Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrike XV-24A subscale vehicle demonstrator (SVD) aircraft test flight program was successfully completed at a U.S. military facility. The SVD aircraft is a 325 pound, Lithium battery-powered scale model of the full-size XV-24A. That flight test program is scheduled to begin in late 2018.

The XV-24A is a tilt-wing UAV using the same Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine used on the V-22 Osprey, to drive three Honeywell generators. The generators power 24 variable-pitch ducted fans on the wing and canard.

Press release: LightningStrike XV-24A Demonstrator Successfully Completes Subscale Flight Test Program [PDF]

Airobotics becomes first company granted authorization to fly UAS without a pilot

Tel Aviv-based Airobotics has operated a BVLOS system at Israel Chemicals (ICL) and Intel in Israel, accumulating more than 10,000 flight hours and automated flight cycles. The success of the system led the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) to grant authorization to fly the UAS without a pilot. The Airobotics system consists of the Optimus drone, an Airbase automated base station, and software that lets users control and manage missions.

Next time your roof gets hit by hail, a drone may inspect damage

Farmers Insurance conducted its first roof inspection with a DJI Phantom quadcopter. Inspection by drone is faster than a conventional inspection and eliminates potential damaging foot traffic on the roof.

Drones prompt ‘flood’ of complaints to police

Last year in the UK, police received 3,456 drone reports, while 1,237 reports were recorded in 2015. Reports include invasions of privacy, disputes between neighbours, aircraft near misses, prison smuggling, and burglars using drones to see if a house was occupied. The Department for Transport considering new measures, Including the creation of a criminal offence for drone misuse.

Weaponized Police Drones May Become Reality in Connecticut

After videos by a Connecticut teenager of his weaponized drones went viral, legislation was introduced in the Connecticut State Legislature to ban weaponized drones in the state. However, if enacted, the bill would carve out an exemption for law enforcement. No other state allows lethal drones. North Dakota permits law enforcement to use “less than lethal” weapons, like tear gas and stun guns.

Researchers test drones to spot invasive plants in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the University of Minnesota Extension are investigating the use of drones to find invasive plants that can be incredibly destructive. Tests are continuing to determine the best sensor to use, the impact of light conditions, and the best flying pattern.

UAV manufacturer senseFly joins April 20 webinar panel

The free UAVs: From Flying Drones to Doing Business webinar is scheduled for Thursday, April 20, 2017, at 1 p.m. EST / 10 a.m. PST / 7 p.m. CET. The webinar will cover a broad range of issues concerning sensor integration aboard a flying platform and in particular their use for commercial purposes. Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to ask direct questions of the speakers, both upon registration and during the live event.

UAV Videos of the Week

Nine Royals 2017 – Racing Drone Edit

This Team BlackSheep video covers the Nine Royals snowboarders and freeskiers event in Italy entirely with FPV racing drones. The video provides views that no spectator could ever experience.

Successful Flight of Hirth 4201 EFI Gasoline Engine in MartinUAV V-BAT UAV

Hirth 4201 engine powering the V-BAT VTOL UAS

Hirth 4201 engine

MartinUAV and Hirth Motors have been working together to power the V-BAT transitional VTOL UAS with a Hirth 4201 air-cooled 2-stroke boxer engine. The February 28 test demonstrated hover and the transitioned to horizontal flight.

The 183cc, gasoline-fueled 15hp Hirth 4201 engine communicates with the V-BAT flight computer and captures engine run parameters during flight for later analysis. A  starter/generator allows for remote start and air vehicle electrical power.

The fixed-wing V-BAT features autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), an 8+ hour flight duration, and a 5+ pound payload. It has a near zero footprint, and hover and stare capability during flight.

Video: V-Bat Long Endurance VTOL UAV

 

 

 

 

 

UAV188 The Inflatable Drone

A drone that inflates and floats, the drone shoot-down lawsuit, a workshop on using UAS as photographic tools, drone privacy legislation returns at the federal level, and drones deployed with a missile launcher.

DIODON Drone Technology

DIODON Drone Technology with inflatable arms.

UAV News

SOFINS: Airvada unveils inflatable UAVs

French company DIODON Drone Technology offers drone solutions for inspection missions and for reconnaissance in hard to reach areas. Their idea is a range of multi-rotor drones that have inflatable arms. This allows for compact carrying, resistance to damage from shocks, and a drone that floats.

Judge rules in favor of “Drone Slayer,” dismisses lawsuit filed by pilot

In 2015, a Kentucky man shot down a drone that he believed was flying over his property. In 2016, the drone owner sued the man in federal court. He wanted the court to determine if his flight constituted trespassing. The argument was that the FAA regulates drones in the air, so federal law applied. He wanted the shooter to pay damages and repair or replace the drone. However, the judge dismissed the case, saying the venue was wrong. Unfortunately, this was not the right legal case to deal with the core issue of flying a drone over private property.

Renowned Drone Photographer Elia Locardi Partners With DJI To Host Aerial Photography Workshop World Tour

DJI is sponsoring a photography workshop with professional travel photographer and videographer Elia Locardi. For his aerial photography, Elia uses DJI Phantom and Inspire drones, with some helicopter shots mixed in. The DJI Drone Photography Workshop world tour starts in Lisbon, Portugal May 19, 2017. Participants will visit beautiful destinations to photograph using DJI drones during the two and a half day workshops. These will also teach drone photography in the field and in post-processing, as well as safe piloting techniques using the DJI quadcopters. For information, see Aerial DJI Drone Photography Workshops with Elia Locardi.

Proposed Drone Bill Threatens to Upend Privacy Standards, Stifle UAS Industry

U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. have reintroduced the “Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act.” However, the Commercial Drone Alliance (CDA) argues that instead, we should apply existing law to the new technology, and not create new law for the new technology. CDA also points out that the Act would require drone operators to make public their future operations, including location, flight duration, purpose of the flight, and other advance declarations.

New Russian military drone launches directly from missiles

Splav Research and Manufacturing Association (SRMA) has designed a drone that launches from a missile fired by the Smerch launch system. This lets them quickly place the drone where it is needed.

UAV Video of the Week

Drone captures incredible video of rare whale behavior

Rare video from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary showing a humpback whale off Maui with its tail out of the water, seemingly catching the wind like a sail. See also Whale Of A Headstand: Rare Humpback Sighting At Sea.

Mentioned

Star Wars 7×7

Congratulations on Episode 1000! Star Wars 7×7 covers news about Star Wars movies, books, TV shows, events, games, comics, trivia, and more. It also features analysis, in-depth discussions, reviews, interviews, and connects the pieces of the Star Wars story unfolding across multiple media platforms.

 

 

UAV187 Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Drones

Our guest explains the research on fuel cells as a power source for unmanned aircraft. In the news, an Airobotics drone operates without a human pilot, the USAF uses a drone for aircraft inspections, BVLOS inspections in Canada, an underwater autonomous vehicle, a drone for humanitarian missions, more Amazon UAS patents, and a Patriot missile takes out a small quadcopter.

Guest

Dr. Benjamin D. Gould is a Chemical Engineer in the Chemistry Division of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). He’s an expert in fuel cell power systems and specializes in the development of next-generation power sources for the US Navy.

The Ion Tiger in flight and a 550 W fuel cell

The Ion Tiger in flight and a 550 W fuel cell (insert). Image courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

We talk with Dr. Gould about the research the NRL is conducting with fuel cells and the Ion Tiger unmanned air vehicle. We learn how fuel cells produce electricity, and the reasons fuel cells are attractive for unmanned aircraft. Dr. Gould also explains the application of additive manufacturing to fuel cells, future research projects, and the availability of the hydrogen used as the fuel.

Dr. Gould earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2007 and his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 2002.  His research interests include additive manufacture of fuel cells, fuel cell recovery processes, bipolar plate design, open cathode fuel cells, and hydrogen safety. He was awarded the prestigious 2013 Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award for his work on fuel cells.

References:

UAV News

This Airobotics ‘homing’ drone flies and lands without any need for a human

Tel Aviv-based Airobotics wanted to build a drone that required no human operator. One that could take off, fly pre-programmed flights for up to 30 minutes, and then land without human assistance. The company now says they have “developed a platform that is fully automated, industrial grade, on-demand and multi-purpose.” The Airobotics 1 video shows the automated landing box and a robotic arm for automatic payload and battery exchange.

USAF looks at UAS flightline maintenance

A quadcopter has been tested for the maintenance inspection of a C-17 cargo plane at Edwards Air Force Base. The US Air Force’s 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force (CTF) flew three sorties on the flight line with a 3D Robotics Solo quadcopter. Next, they’ll analyze the video to determine if the resolution is good enough to see small details like structural abnormalities, rivets, and cracks. See also, First use of sUAS to inspect plane lessens load for maintainers.

Canadian UAVs completes first BVLOS pipeline and powerline inspections in Canada

Canadian UAVs Inc. and Lockheed Martin CDL Systems are teaming for BVLOS inspections of pipelines, wellheads, and power lines. Using a Lockheed Martin Indago 2 quadrotor, they demonstrated the capability at the UAV testing facility in Foremost, Alberta.

Canadian UAVs Inc. is a UAV solutions provider. Lockheed Martin CDL Systems specializes in the development and licensing of vehicle control station software for unmanned systems.

British UAV “Boaty” Will Go On First Antarctic Mission

“Boaty McBoatface” is a British UAV, an underwater autonomous vehicle. Researchers plan to use it to collect data about the effects of global warming on the world’s oceans. Boaty is to depart from southern Chile and head towards the Southern Ocean. Follow @BoatyMcBoatface on Twitter.

UK company develops edible drones to feed hungry

Windhorse Aerospace Pouncer

Windhorse Aerospace Pouncer

Windhorse Aerospace is developing a prototype of the Pouncer delta-wing drone. This single-use drone is designed to carry food and supplies on humanitarian missions. Windhorse says it’s “pre-formed shell can be reused to provide shelter, the frame can be burnt safely to cook food, and the payload, which is food and water, provides life-saving nutrition.” Not only that, but the company says, “One day, the airframe may be made of edible components.”

Amazon patents drones with telescoping landing legs and foldable propellers

If a drone lands on a sloping surface, it could fall over. But an Amazon patent contemplates independently telescoping legs that would allow it to stay level. Such legs could also act as a shock absorber, and be tipped with spikes, screws, suction cups, or magnets to grip different surfaces. Another Amazon patent shows adjustable winglets on propeller tips for flight efficiency.

UAV Video of the Week

Someone shot down a $200 drone with a $3M Patriot missile

Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, speaking at the 2017 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition, stated that someone described as a very close U.S. ally “dealing with an adversary flying a small quadcopter,” fired a Patriot surface-to-air missile at the drone. It worked.

Video: AUSA 2017 – GEN David Perkins, Commanding General, U.S. TRADOC

 

 

UAV186 AOPA UAS Programs

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Senior Director of UAS Programs explains the organization’s strategies for unmanned aircraft.

Guest

Kathleen “Kat” Swain

Kathleen “Kat” Swain, Senior Director for AOPA UAS Programs.

Kathleen “Kat” Swain is Senior Director for AOPA UAS Programs. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association created the position in 2016, and since then Kat has been working to implement the organization’s strategies for UAS.

Kat was a manned aircraft pilot before she became a remote pilot and has multiple ratings. She is a flight instructor, having instructed both military and civilian pilots. Kat has flown drones for many purposes, including insurance industry support and humanitarian missions.

We discuss the AOPA commitment to unmanned aviation, and how manned and unmanned pilots share the same desire to protect the safety of the airspace. Kat explains the value of AOPA advocacy and the benefits of membership that AOPA offers drone pilots. That includes insurance, legal assistance, pilot protection services, and the new AOPA Drone Pilot biweekly newsletter that covers training and safety, gear, lifestyle, regulation and policy, and drone news.

See:

UAV Video of the Week

Don Toporowski manages the ACE climatic wind tunnel at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The facility tests drones and can simulate the types of precipitation and clouds that UAVs have to deal with at lower speeds and altitudes. ACE actually creates repeatable water droplets, freezing rain, and clouds. This funny video illustrates the limits of a DJI Phantom 4’s ability to fly in high winds.

A Drone’s Worst Nightmare…

 

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).