Category Archives: Episodes

UAV201 Telecommunication Drone

Telecommunication drone tests from MIT and Verizon, flying near firefighters, pipeline inspection, drone registration refunds for recreational operators, and the UAS Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee.

American Aerospace Technologies Inc. RS-20

Testing the RS-20 as a telecommunications drone. Courtesy American Aerospace Technologies Inc.

UAV News

MIT Develops Gas-Powered UAV That Can Stay Aloft for Five Days

This fixed-wing, long-endurance UAV was developed to provide temporary telecommunications service for disaster areas, or possibly for environmental monitoring. With a 24-foot wingspan and a 15,000 feet ceiling, the GPkit software modeling tool was used to evaluate different aircraft parameters.

Verizon explains flying-cell-site drone-project

Verizon, American Aerospace Technologies Inc., and Cape May County in New Jersey collaborated to test an AATI RS-20 fixed-wing aircraft flying BVLOS and broadcasting a Verizon Airborne LTE signal. Verizon has been building a suite of tools with “barnyard” names, including: cell on wheels (COW), generator on a trailer (GOAT), and cell on light truck (COLT).

Drone Photographer Arrested for Impeding Forest Fire Rescuers

54-year old Gene Alan Carpenter was arrested after flying his drone over an Arizona wildfire. He is charged with felony endangerment and unlawful operation of an unmanned aircraft in violation of Arizona law that makes it illegal for drones to impede emergency or law-enforcement activities. In response to the drone flight, officials were forced to ground all the aircraft in the area.

Yale Student Invents Drone to Solve $2.5 Trillion Corrosion Problem

A Yale School of Management team has founded Arix Technologies to bring robotics and data analytics to the expensive and labor intensive problem of pipeline corrosion inspection.

FAA is now issuing a drone registration refund

In light of the court ruling that the FAA violated section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 when it implemented drone registration for recreational operators, the FAA is offering a refund. Recreational drone operators can expunge their registration information and get their $5 registration fee back from the FAA by mailing a form [PDF]. See the FAA Registration Deletion page for more details.

FAA’s New UAS Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting

The first meeting of the UAS Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) was held June 21-23, 2017. This group of 74 unmanned aircraft stakeholders [PDF] was chartered [PDF] to investigate technologies for remote identification and tracking of UAS. The ARC will recommend solutions that meet the requirements of security and public safety organizations.

Mentioned

Sky Locals – Amazing drone photos on Instagram and videos on YouTube.

 

UAV200 Looking Back and Looking Ahead

A look back at the first 200 episodes and a peek into topics that might get our attention in the future, including regulatory actions that result from FAA reauthorization.

Max and David recording at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum

Max and David at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum

To celebrate the 200th episode, David and Max take a step back from the usual format and reminisce about the issues that were important when the podcast started in 2013. The main topic then was whether or not to call them “drones.” We look at how the unmanned aircraft landscape has changed since the first episode, and speculate about the topics we’ll be talking about in the future. One of those is the unmanned aircraft regulations we’ll face, which leads us to our single news story this week:

UAV News

What’s Proposed for Drones in This Year’s FAA Reauthorization Bills?

The United States Senate and House both introduced bills that reauthorize the FAA and contain provisions for unmanned aircraft.

The Senate “FAA Reauthorization Act of 2017” (S.1405) would:

  • Direct the FAA to create rule for micro drones under 4.4 pounds
  • Require DOT to establish a “delivery air carrier certificate that would allow package deliveries by drones”
  • Authorize the FAA to issue more exemptions for BVLOS
  • Require all operators of drones over 0.55 pounds to pass an approved aeronautical safety test
  • Address safety and privacy issues
  • Criminalize reckless drone behavior around manned airports
  • Grant FAA drone registration authority
  • Boost enforcement
  • Create new opportunities for testing and promoting innovative uses.

The House “21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act” (H.R.2997, PDF summary) would:

  • Privatize ATC
  • Direct the DOT to assess the registration system and require the FAA to “develop and track metrics to assess compliance with and effectiveness of the system”
  • Propose a “streamlined process for the FAA to permit the operation of small UAS for certain uses,” as well as a “risk-based permitting process” for operations
  • Establish an air carrier certificate for UAS delivery
  • Mandate rulemaking for a UAS traffic management system
  • Allow the FAA to grant waivers for low-risk UTM operations

Thanks

Special thanks to @dronemama for creating the intro for this episode. What an unexpected surprise! Love ya!

 

 

UAV199 The “GENIUS NY” UAS Accelerator Competition

The director of the GENIUS NY accelerator competition for unmanned systems describes how they are helping UAS companies become successful.

Guest

Jonathan Parry, Director of GENIUS NY

Jonathan Parry, Director of GENIUS NY

Jonathan Parry is the Director of GENIUS NY, an in-residence business accelerator program at the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity (CEO) Tech Garden in Syracuse, New York. As the world’s largest accelerator competition for unmanned systems, GENIUS NY has invested $3M directly into six early stage technology companies focused on hardware, software, and analytics to support the emerging unmanned systems industry.

The six 2017 finalist companies are AutoModality, Ascent AeroSystems, OmniMesh, EZ3D, SkyOp, and Akrobotix.

In addition to funding, the GENIUS NY program provides support with executive advisors, business development resources, networking events, and investor opportunities.

Jon has a background working with a diverse group of renewable energy and sustainable technology companies. He began his career with a biomass gasification startup, and he has implemented distributed energy systems in Europe and North America. In 2013, Jon joined an innovative sustainable materials company called Ecovative Design as business development manager. Jon has also developed global sales and manufacturing partnerships.

New York State has invested over $250M directly into the Central New York region to support UAS development, regulation, and economic growth. The region is home to a cluster of businesses focused on radar and sensor technology, and it operates one of the FAA-designated UAS test sites. Recently announced was the investment of a 50-mile operational UTM corridor.

The GENIUS NY 2.0 accelerator program is currently open for applications to select its second-year cohort. Applications are due by October 1, 2017, and the six finalist teams will be invited to participate in GENIUS NY throughout 2018.

UAV198 Drone Racing Takes Flight

The Drone Racing League gains sponsors and additional funding, NASA UAS traffic management testing, the impact of Taylor v. FAA on commercial drone operators, iRobotics proposes a drone race across the Pacific, and drones swarm in China.

iRobotics drone concept

iRobotics drone concept

UAV News

The Drone Racing League (DRL) Announces International Partnerships For 2017 Race Season, Close Of Series B Investment Round

The Drone Racing League (DRL), announced multi-year, international partners and sponsors. Allianz was already announced as the global title sponsor, and Toy State as a sponsor. New sponsors include Amazon (Prime Video), Swatch, FORTO Coffee Shots, and the U.S. Air Force. The DRL season begins June 20, 2017, on ESPN and is to be broadcast in over 75 countries.

DRL also announced a $20 million round of financing led by Sky, Liberty Media Corporation (owner of Formula 1) and Lux Capital (which invests in emerging science and technology ventures). Additional new investors include Allianz and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and other partners in the round include: Hearst Ventures (a corporate venture fund for media and technology), RSE Ventures (a sports, technology, and entertainment venture firm), Lerer Hippeau Ventures (a seed stage venture capital fund), and Courtside Ventures (a sports, technology, and media VC). DRL has also added CRCM Ventures (seed and early stage companies in Silicon Valley and China) supporting DRL’s expansion into China.

Traffic jam in the skies: NASA updates UTM effort

As part of the NASA UAS Traffic Management (UTM) program, tests have been completed at the six FAA UAS test sites. The missions were monitored in real-time at the NASA Ames’ Airspace Operations Lab, which will now analyze the data collected. There is much more to be done, and NASA’s UTM Technical Lead Joey Rios, says, “We have work on the UAS platforms themselves, we have software development, we have simulation development. We have a lot of human factors work to figure out how to interact with these systems.”

What Taylor v FAA Means for Commercial Drone Operators

The drone registration program implemented by the FAA in 2015 was struck down in court. This article points out that while recreational drone operators no longer have to register, commercial operators are unaffected.

iRobotics Challenges Tech Giants to Drone Race Across Pacific

Japanese drone start-up iRobotics is proposing a race from Tokyo to San Francisco that is open to anyone. Red Bull describes in Want to race this drone across the Pacific? that iRobotics is interested in the middle market – between small drones typically used for recreational and commercial purposes at low altitude, and large, high-altitude drones such as those that  Facebook and Airbus are contemplating.

Hit-and-Run Drone Collision Causes Power Outage for 1,600 in Google’s Hometown

A large number of people in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View lost power for 3 hours when a drone flew into a high-voltage wire. A white-haired, white adult man was seen fleeing the scene driving a white car.

China launches record-breaking swarm of drones

China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) says they have set a new record for a swarm of drones. The swarm of 119 fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles bests the CETC swarm of 67 drones launched during the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai. The Global Times says the drones employed “catapult-assisted take-offs and performed aerial formations.”

Drone Enthusiasts See Benefit in Privatizing Air Traffic Control

According to this article, many people think that a private corporation could get a drone traffic management system up and running quicker than the Federal Aviation Administration.

 

 

UAV197 NASA UAS Traffic Management (UTM) System Tests

NASA UAS Traffic Management system testing at the UAS test sites, Arizona law enforcement uses a drone to find a missing man, a drone company becomes a drone data company, DARPA studies mid-flight multitasking for small drones, a University of Calgary study of drone incidents, and fuel cells for drones.

The Kespry fully autonomous aerial intelligence system

The Kespry fully autonomous aerial intelligence system. Image courtesy Kespry.

UAV News

NIAS and NASA test the Next Phase of NASA’s UAS Traffic Management System

Tests for NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) system are being conducted at the six UAS test sites in the “Technology Capability Level 2 (TCL2) National Campaign.” The first tests were held at the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems.

NCSO uses UAV to find missing man

After receiving a call about a man who was missing in the woods, the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona deployed their drone for the search. The disoriented man was found in about 45 minutes.

Transforming a Drone Company into a Data Company

Kespry says they are “focused on making it easy to capture, process, use and share high-resolution information from the field.” They offer “a fully autonomous aerial intelligence system” that tries to eliminate the need to integrate multiple systems from multiple vendors. In effect, their complete drone solution makes them more of a data company than a drone company.”

DARPA program to allow for mid-flight multitasking drone missions

A small UAS can often carry only one payload due to power, weight, and size constraints. Under the CONverged Collaborative Elements for RF Task Operations (CONCERTO) program, DARPA is looking at multiple payloads that share common RF components. BAE Systems has been awarded $5.4 million in contracts to help develop technology that allows operating modes to switch mid-flight. See the video: CONCERTO Concept of Operations

Close encounters of the drone kind becoming more common, U of C study says.

A new University of Calgary study finds there are more drones in the air than manned aircraft. There were 355 drone incidents reported in Canadian airspace between November 2005 and December 2016, and 22% of them involved close encounters between drones and piloted aircraft. Most incidents involve non-licensed operators.

Will Hydrogen Fuel Cells Help Drones Stay in the Air?

Three options today for increasing electric UAV time-in-the-air are tethered devices, solar power, and in-the-field rapid battery replacements. However, fuel cell power systems are gathering steam and two private companies are innovating and offering products: Protonex, based in Massachusetts, is focused on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology for small, light UAV applications; China-based MMC is currently manufacturing and distributing two models of fuel cells.

UAV Videos of the Week

Playing Pong with Drones

3DR Interns Ian McNanie and Josh Jacobs have programmed a group of drones to play a game of pong in the air. One base station communicates with the swarm of drones.

Brad Byrd – Highest Mountain

The Highest Mountain music video from singer/songwriter Brad Byrd was shot and directed by Dylan Kussman (Dead Poets Society, Jack Reacher, X-men) using DJI Zenmuse X5 video drones.

Mentioned

Nova Systems Completes Multi-drone UTM Trial

Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) system trials are taking place in Australia. The trial that Nova Systems participated in explored different Remotely Piloted Aircraft types and sizes, payload capabilities (including live payload distribution over an LTE network), the effectiveness of each UTM (some of which relied upon the LTE network), control of drones over the LTE network, and a new approach to range safety.

Drone Problems

A humorous cartoon from XKCD about drone operators who seem to crash a lot.

 

 

 

 

UAV196 The DJI Spark

The DJI Spark, Snap Inc. interest in drones, the ANSI UAS Standardization Collaborative, the Drone Federalism Act of 2017, Florida utility company using drones, the MQ-25A Stingray carrier-launched unmanned tanker, a drone camp for girls, and NATE embraces drones.

The DJI Spark

The Spark mini-drone. Image courtesy DJI.

UAV News

DJI brings gesture control to consumer drones with the diminutive Spark

The $499 DJI Spark mini-drone recognizes your face and launches and lands on the palm of your hand. It can be controlled with hand movements, a remote controller, a mobile device, or DJI goggles. Featuring obstacle detection and image stabilization, the Spark can follow flight maneuvers preset with your mobile device. It can also follow you.

Snap recently acquired Ctrl Me Robotics, an LA-based drone company

Snap Spectacles

Snap Spectacles. Image courtesy Snap, Inc.

Is the company that owns Snapchat getting into the drone business? It’s unclear, but Snap Inc. acquired drone company Ctrl Me Robotics last year and has reportedly looked at another company in that space.

Last September, Snapchat said it was rebranding itself as a camera company and getting into hardware. Snap also manufacturers a wearable camera called Spectacles. These “smartglasses” record video and connect to your Snapchat account.

 

ANSI Establishes Unmanned Aircraft Systems Standardization Collaborative

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards. ANSI has decided to form a “Standardization Collaborative” for UAS. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Standardization Collaborative (UASSC) will create standards and conformity assessment programs for facilitating the safe integration of UAS into the United States national airspace system (NAS). An initial kick-off meeting is planned for the third quarter of 2017. To stay up-to-date regarding future developments, email Jim McCabe, ANSI senior director, standards facilitation, at jmccabe@ansi.org.

Drone Federalism Act Would Bring Regulation to Local Level

The Drone Federalism Act of 2017 has been proposed by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and Tom Cotton, R-Ark. The Act is an attempt to bring UAS regulation down to the local level.

Feinstein says the bill “allows communities to create low-altitude speed limits, local no-drone zones or rules that are appropriate to their own circumstances.”

Blumenthal says, “This legislation protects the rights of state and local governments to implement reasonable restrictions on drones in their communities while ensuring that the Federal Aviation Administration keeps our national airspace the safest in the world.”

So how does it work?

  • Keeps the FAA’s “general authority over the national airspace while preserving the authority of state, local and tribal governments to issue reasonable restrictions on the time, manner and place of drone operations within 200 feet of the ground or a structure.
  • Reaffirms that the federal government “will respect private property rights to the airspace immediately above a property, including the first 200 feet.”
  • Directs the FAA “to partner with a diverse group of cities and states to test out different approaches, inform the unmanned traffic management pilot program and report best practices.”

See Drone Federalism Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1272) by Jonathan Rupprecht for a quick summary of important facts of the Drone Federalism Act of 2017, problems with the Drone Federalism Act of 2017, who supports it, and the actual text of the Drone Federalism Act.

Florida Utility Preps for Drone Use Ahead of Storm Season

With hurricane season coming soon, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is being proactive. They’ve trained more than 1,200 employees and that training includes the use of unmanned aircraft. FPL demonstrated the use of UAS for surveying damage areas and how they can speed up restoration efforts.

Navy to Launch MQ-25 Stingray Refueling Drone Competition This Summer

The MQ-25A Stingray is a carrier-launched tanker designed to extend the combat range of carrier aircraft like the F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35C Joint Strike Fighter. The Navy is starting an industry competition for the Stingray, which it plans to enter carrier deck service in the early to mid-2020s. In advance of the formal proposal to industry this summer, the Navy awarded four development contracts: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, and Northrop Grumman.

Mentioned

UND to host drone camp for girls

The UAS Camp is sponsored by the Women’s Fund from the Grand Forks Community Foundation. Girls ages 8 to 12 will learn about drones, with hands-on experience with small unmanned aircraft. The camp will take place in two sessions at Robin Hall: from July 31 through Aug. 4 and from Aug. 7 through 11, 2017. Registration is $20 and space is limited. For more information, call Amanda Brandt with the UND College of Aerospace at (701) 732-0592.

Video of the Week

NATE UAS Operations Climber Connection Drone Video

The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) “has proactively embraced the utilization of drones in the wireless and broadcast infrastructure industries due to the enormous safety and efficiency benefits associated with their use.” Their new Climber Connection Unmanned Aerial Systems video was distributed industry-wide at the 2017 Drone Focus Conference in Fargo, North Dakota.

 

 

UAV195 Drone Registration Struck Down

A court ruling halts recreational drone registration in the U.S. while China implements a new drone registration requirement. Also, a fast fixed-wing VTOL UAV, heavy-lift delivery drones, remote pilot training in Australia, a long-endurance solar powered unmanned sailplane, and some new drone swarming applications.

The Marlyn VTOL mapping and surveying drone. Courtesy Atmos UAV.

The Marlyn VTOL mapping and surveying drone. Courtesy Atmos UAV.

UAV News

Court Strikes Down Drone Registration Requirement

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has struck down the FAA’s drone registration requirement for recreational UAV operators. The three-judge panel agreed with John A. Taylor, a drone hobbyist represented by attorney Jonathan Rupprecht, who argued that the FAA requirement violated the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act passed by Congress. Read the Court Opinion [PDF] and the Court Order [PDF]. Note that the ruling does not affect aircraft operated for commercial operations under Section 333 or Part 107. Rules for commercial operations remain the same. More details: Complete Guide to Taylor v. FAA (Drone Registration Lawsuit).

FAA Statement Regarding US Court of Appeals Decision

“We are carefully reviewing the U.S. Court of Appeals decision as it relates to drone registrations. The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats. We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision.”

Atmos UAV Launches Marlyn

The Atmos UAV Marlyn is a fixed-wing, VTOL UAV designed for high-speed mapping applications like land surveying, mining, precision agriculture, and forestry. It can be deployed from any surface, can map up to 10 times faster than a multirotor, and can fly in a broad range of weather conditions.

Heavy Duty Delivery Drones Coming From JD.com

JD.com says they are China’s largest retailer, online or offline, and they plan to build China’s largest low-altitude drone package delivery network. The heavy-lift drones are expected to carry more than a ton, transport products to remote areas, and move agricultural produce to cities. JD.com will also establish an R&D campus in partnership with the Xi’an National Civil Aerospace Industrial Base (XCAIB) where unmanned systems will be developed, manufactured and tested.

Changes to approved training

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Australia’s national aviation authority is changing the practical training requirements for receiving an Australian Remote Pilot Licence (RePL) effective 1 June 2017. RePL applicants will satisfy the training requirements by completing a RePL training course conducted by a person holding a RPA Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) that authorized the training. Applicants can also apply to CASA for a flight test. CASA-approved training organisations are located across Australia, and a list of approved drone operators including those who can conduct training, is on the CASA website. More information about the advantages of holding a RePL can be found in Flying drones/remotely piloted aircraft in Australia.

Drone owners will now have to register with the government in China

Pilots of drones weighing 250 grams or more (0.55 pound) will be required to register with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). This requirement is effective June 1, 2017. Registration is online and real names must be used.

FAA releases registered private drone owner database

The Federal Aviation Administration has made available a database of registered drone owners. The spreadsheet shows the city, state and zip code of each registered drone owner.

NRL Tests Autonomous ‘Soaring with Solar’ Concept

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is looking at long endurance unmanned sailplanes that use solar power. The Navy says, “The Solar Photovoltaic and Autonomous Soaring Base Program and the U.S. Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Energy Office (E2O) want to improve the ability of unmanned platforms to support 24-7 information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

DroneSeed Receives the First FAA Approval for Using Drone Swarming to Deliver Agricultural Payloads

DroneSeed has received approval from the FAA to deliver agricultural payloads with drone swarms. The company says, “We’re working with commercial foresters to make reforestation more efficient. Offering a one-stop solution, our team of drones plants tree seeds and sprays fertilizer and herbicides to keep trees healthy.”

Drone Swarms Could Spoof the Enemy

At the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, the vice president of science and technology at Cintel said a web of swarming unmanned aircraft systems that can spoof enemy drones could be a solution to the shot doctrine problem when exercising counter-UAS capabilities.

UAV Video of the Week

Lockheed Martin Conducts First Underwater Unmanned Aircraft Launch from Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

Lockheed Martin successfully launched a Vector Hawk UAV on command from the Marlin MK2 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). At the same time, the Submaran unmanned surface vehicle (USV) developed by Ocean Aero provided surface reconnaissance and surveillance.

Read more: From Under the Sea to Up in the Air: Lockheed Martin Conducts First Underwater Unmanned Aircraft Launch from Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

Mentioned

Airplane Geeks episode 453 The Zunum Aero Electric Airplane.

 

 

 

UAV194 Drones for Public Safety Agencies

The CEO of SkyFire Consulting explains the use of drones by public safety agencies, such as law enforcement, firefighting, and first responders.

Matt Sloane, CEO of SkyFire Consulting, providing drone services for public safety agencies.

Matt Sloane, CEO of SkyFire Consulting

Matt Sloane is the CEO of SkyFire Consulting, a consulting company focused on the use of drones by public safety agencies. Started by four public safety professionals and a commercial pilot, SkyFire delivers professional level training, FAA consulting, and equipment sales and consultation. This provides departments with a one-stop-shop for starting drone programs.

Matt describes how and why public safety agencies, like law enforcement and firefighting, are using drones. We talk about regulatory requirements, the drones and sensors being employed, as well as privacy and rights issues. Matt also offers some good advice for drone owners who want to assist public safety agencies.

SkyFire offers training for agencies that want to include drones in their arsenal of tools, and Matt describes what they offer. We also note that the SkyFire Public Safety UAV Symposium will be held June 21-23, 2017, at the Hilton Fort Collins, in Fort Collins, Colorado. That event will bring together experts in drones, thermal imaging, public safety UAV operations, lawmakers, and public safety professionals to provide training on the latest information.

Matt is an FAA-certified manned aircraft pilot as well as an accomplished drone pilot. He also serves on the National Fire Protection Association’s committee on UAVs, which is working to establish the first real UAV guidelines for the fire service.

You can find SkyFire Consulting on the web at SkyFireConsulting.com, on Twitter at @SkyfireDrones, and on their Facebook page.

UAV193 Flying Drones Over People

The impact of drones striking people, geo-restrictions in war zones, monitoring volcanic ash, structure inspections using UAVs and artificial intelligence, keeping wildlife away from crops, waste management with drones, swarming tactics, Project Wing update, and drone weaponization for law enforcement.

A UAS crash test dummy in a study of flying drones over people.

A UAS crash test dummy provided data for a UAS ground collision severity study.

UAV News

FAA Issues Study on UAS Human Collision Hazards

In order to create regulations for flying drones over people, the FAA needs to know what happens when a UAV strikes a human. A consortium of universities has been studying this, and their report identifies dominant injury types applicable to small drones. See: FAA and Assure Announce Results of Ground Collision Study.

DJI Mysteriously Turned Vast Swaths of Iraq and Syria Into Drone No-Fly Zones

Without much fanfare, DJI created no-fly zones over large areas of Iraq and Syria. Some speculate this was a move to thwart ISIS from using their drones.

CNN journalist evades DJI GEO restrictions in Iraq

A CNN reporter proved the no-fly zone could be defeated by covering the GPS on his DJI Mavic with tinfoil. Without GPS, the no-fly zones are disabled.

NASA Selects Black Swift Technologies’ sUAS for Volcano Ash Monitoring

NASA has awarded a contract to Black Swift Technologies to develop and deliver a sUAS solution to explore volcanoes. Black Swift will provide an airframe, avionics, and sensors to measure gases, temperature, pressure, humidity, and winds, as well as particle sizes and trace gases. All this for improved air traffic management systems and more accurate measurements of ashfall.

AT&T Labs working to combine drone video footage with artificial intelligence monitoring

AT&T Labs is studying how they can use artificial intelligence (AI) and video footage of cell towers taken by a drone. AT&T wants to eliminate the labor for physical inspections and video analysis.

Drones keep elephants away from people in Tanzania

In Tanzania, elephants sometimes graze on crops and destroy them, presenting a huge problem for the people trying to grow food. The U.S.-based nonprofit Resolve is testing the use of drones to drive the animals away.

Drones-The Latest High Tech Tool For Las Cruces Waste Management

A quadcopter is being used to map a regional landfill and provide volumetrics to the landfill management company. This information about the amount of air space remaining in existing landfill cells is critical for future development plans.

Service Academies Swarm Challenge: Controlling drone swarms

DARPA created the Service Academies Swarm Challenge where U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force academy teams compete and go from “zero to swarm in 8 months.” The research effort is an experiment where students develop offensive and defensive tactics for swarms of small UAVs.

Video: An Overview of DARPA’s Service Academies Swarm Challenge

Alphabet’s Project Wing Cuts Staff Before Progress Update

Reportedly, Google parent Alphabet has significantly cut staff at Project Wing. Yet sources say the program is still alive and a major progress update and demonstration is expected before summer.

Public Safety Committee Grounds Drone Legislation

Legislation proposed in Connecticut would have made that state the first in the U.S. to allow law enforcement to use weaponized drones. However, the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee decided to let the legislation die. This was after drone attorney Peter Sachs wrote an email to all members of the Committee asking them to vote against the proposal.

UAV Video of the Week

Amazing Drone Footage – The USS Alabama From The Air – A Very Impressive Battleship

The USS Alabama (BB-60) is a South Dakota Class Battleship, launched on April 16, 1942. It served during World War II in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This video was shot using a hexacopter with a GoPro at the USS Alabama Memorial Park.

Mentioned

Drones flown in helicopter flight path at Franz Josef heliport ‘a huge risk’ to safety, police warn

 

 

UAV192 Uber Air Taxi UAV

Drone vulnerability to hacking, the ScanEagle gets fuel cell power, Grand Sky UAS Park adds a major tenant, drone privacy issues in Australia, swarming biobots, and Uber collaborates with Aurora Flight Sciences for an air taxi.

Aurora Flight Sciences air taxi concept

Aurora Flight Sciences Electric VTOL Aircraft

UAV News

Watch A Very Vulnerable $140 Quadcopter Drone Get Hacked Out Of The Sky

Researchers at the Cyber-Physical Systems Security Lab at the University of Texas at Dallas hacked into a small quadcopter and took control. UT Dallas researcher Junia Valente said, “The device contains an open access point not protected by any password and a misconfigured FTP server that allows unauthorized users to read and write to the drone filesystem. One of the attacks we did was precisely to overwrite sensitive system files to gain full root access.”

Five reasons why fuel cell powered UAVs beat internal combustion fuel systems

A ScanEagle UAV manufactured by Boeing subsidiary Insitu has been tested with a Ballard Power Systems’ fuel cell system. Ballard lists five advantages that fuel cell propulsion of UAVs has over internal combustion systems.

North Dakota UAS Park Welcomes Northrop Grumman as Anchor Tenant

The Grand Sky Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Business and Aviation Park, located near Grand Forks, North Dakota has welcomed new tenant Northrop Grumman to a 36,000 square-foot facility. The park has access to Grand Forks Air Force Base, where Northrop Grumman provides systems and technology to the U.S. Air Force, including the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Backyard skinny-dippers lack effective laws to keep peeping drones at bay

A woman returned to her home in Darwin from an evening gym session, got undressed, and began to enjoy her secluded backyard pool. Soon, a small camera-mounted quadcopter appeared overhead. She doesn’t know who was operating the drone.

In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) does not prevent drones from flying over private property. Australia lacks a tort of privacy so even if she could find him, the woman couldn’t sue the drone operator for a breach of privacy.

Software allows for use of drones and insect biobots to map disaster areas

North Carolina State University researchers have created the hardware and software to use UAVs and insect cyborgs (or biobots) as a way to map areas like collapsed buildings after a disaster. Biobots could move freely within a defined space and map the area as they go.

UAV Video of the Week

Aurora Flight Sciences’ Electric VTOL Aircraft

Uber selected Aurora Flight Sciences as a partner to develop an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for its Uber Elevate Network. Aurora’s eVTOL concept is derived from its XV-24A X-plane program currently underway for the U.S. Department of Defense and other autonomous aircraft the company has developed over the years.

See also: We just got our first glimpse of Uber’s vision for flying taxis