UAV177 FPV Flying Wings

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

Ruben Jauregui, owner of SweepWingsRC

Ruben Jauregui, owner of SweepWingsRC

Guest

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

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

SweepWingsRC videos:

FPV Paradise – Hawaii – Flying Wing

FPV Paradise Tour – Las Vegas – Sweepwings

Sweepwings at Drone World’s – Hawaii 2016

UAV News

Amazon patent hints at floating warehouses in the sky

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

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

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

UAV Video of the Week

BMT UAV performs perched landing using machine learning algorithms

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

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

Mentioned

Drone delivery makes it into a Garfield cartoon.

 

 

UAV176 The Ion Tiger Fuel Cell-Powered Drone

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

NRL Ion Tiger

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

News

NRL completes first flight of UAV with custom hydrogen fuel cell

Fuel Cell

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Drone Registration Marks First Anniversary

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

One-Year Anniversary of the FAA’s Drone Registry

Videos of the Week

Watch the 6 Most Innovative Drone Videos of 2016

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

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

Human Flying Drone

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

 

UAV175 Amazon Prime Air Delivers

Amazon Prime Air begins a package delivery beta test, a DOT audit finds some FAA deficiencies, Defiant Labs shows a new VTOL long endurance drone, three models of aerodynamic lift are called into question, some drone tips for growers, and a wild video of the week.

Amazon Prime Air beta test drone

Package delivery drone, courtesy Amazon Prime Air

News

Amazon Claims First Successful Prime Air Drone Delivery

Amazon Prime Air delivered a TV streaming stick and a bag of popcorn to a Cambridge, UK customer in a private beta test. The process from order to receipt lasted 13 minutes and included a fully autonomous flight with no human pilot involved in the process. Amazon plans to expand the test, add more customers to the program, and collect operational data for further development of package delivery concepts. See the Amazon promotional video: Amazon Prime Air’s First Customer Delivery.

FAA Lacks Risk-Based Oversight Process for Civil UAS

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a 20-page audit report titled, FAA Lacks Risk-Based Oversight Process for Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems [PDF]. The report notes that “FAA does not have a fully developed risk-based process to oversee UAS operations, a key tool for focusing resources on a range of emerging risks, such as increased reports of UAS operating near airports.” The OIG offers six recommendations, four of which the FAA says are already accomplished.

New 24-Hour Endurance Hybrid Drone Developed for Monitoring & Inspection

Canadian company Defiant Labs has announced their new DX-3, a vertical take-off and landing drone with a fixed wing for flight. Applications for the long endurance, hydrogen fuel cell-powered drone include monitoring and inspecting remote infrastructure such as pipelines and power transmission lines. The DX-3 will be designed, manufactured, and produced in Canada.

Listener Ken captured some photographs of the DX-3 at the International UAS Show in Toronto:

Defiant Labs DX-3

Defiant Labs DX-3

Birds flying through laser light reveal faults in flight research, Stanford study shows

Stanford researchers wanted to test three predictive models of airflow that are based on flying animals. These models are sometimes used in the design of flying robots and drones. Using a trained bird flying through a laser sheet that illuminated micron-sized aerosol particles, the study found that all three models failed to predict the actual lift generated by the bird.

Stanford researchers debunk popular flight models by flying birds through lasers

UAVs: 10 tips from users

Two Iowa State University agricultural biosystems engineers provide Corn & Soybean Digest readers with tips learned first-hand.

Video of the Week

The Pilots Arrive | FlightLab: Mojave Boneyard | Intel

Take a wild quadcopter ride through a Mojave boneyard of retired jumbo jets, and watch the obstacle avoidance of Intel’s Yuneec drone.

 

 

UAV174 Drone Industry Consolidation

UAS industry consolidation, open source drone projects, and the Dutch Drone Awards.

 C4D Intel

C4D Intel

News

Flir buys UAS firm Prox Dynamics following Point Grey acquisition

Flir Systems has acquired Oslo Norway-based Prox Dynamics for $134 million in cash. Prox Dynamics is a developer of nano-class unmanned aerial systems, with a “core mission to develop, produce and sell the world’s smallest and most advanced Personal Reconnaissance System (PRS)” for “the modern warfighter.”

Australian UAV Mapping Consolidation

C4D Intel has acquired Airbotix. Both are Perth-based. Privately-owned C4D Intel specializes in asset inspection, mapping, and data analysis. Airbotix provides autonomous systems to clients applications such as inspection and testing, geospatial survey, scientific research and situational awareness.

4 open source drone projects

Most consumer drones use proprietary software and hardware. But there are open source options:

  • Paparazzi UAV is an open-source drone hardware and software project. It includes autopilot systems and ground station software for multicopters/multirotors, fixed-wing, helicopters, and hybrid aircraft. The system was designed with autonomous flight as the primary focus.
  • The Linux Foundation-sponsored Dronecode project is building a common open source platform for UAV development. The project recently split with several Dronecode companies with developers forming a new project called PX4. an independent, open-source, open-hardware project providing the standard high-end autopilot to the industrial, academic and enthusiast communities.
  • OpenDroneMap processes aerial imagery into point clouds, digital surface, and elevation models. It can also orthorectify imagery for further analysis. See the project wiki for more information.
  • The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications has a Drone Journalism Lab that seeks to educate journalists about the legal and ethical use of drones. Their 23-page operations manual is open sourced and free to download. Sections in the manual include Ethics and Privacy, General Operating Procedures, Pre-Flight, Flight, Post-Flight, and Logging. It also contains a number of Normal Operating Checklists and Emergency Procedures.

Videos of the Week

The winners of the Dutch Drone Awards 2016 have been announced. Coen Swijnenberg earned a Drone Award for his video of Sri Lanka. As the winner of the Aerial Photography category, he also gets to enjoy a 250 euro gift card from Droneshop.nl, and a permanent place in the Dutch aerial movie makers hall of fame.

Sri Lanka 2016

Tim van Vliet won the award in the Racing category with a high-speed drone video shot above the colorful Dutch tulip fields.

Tulipe Colormadness

Find more at the annual Dutch Drone Awards website.

 

 

 

UAV173 Counter-UAS Technology

Aerial Information Systems describes counter-UAS technology, the Karma drone recall exposes a larger issue, and some areas to watch in the UAS space in 2017.

GoPro Karma

Karma drone, courtesy GoPro

Interview

Tim Trott from Southern Helicam interviews Larry Friese, Jr., president of Aerial Information Systems Corporation (AIS) at the inaugural Emerald Coast Unmanned Systems Business Expo in Pensacola, November 19, 2016. Larry’s session was Preparing for Counter-UAS Technology and he talks with Tim about playing the aggressor from the Red Team perspective.

Aerial Information Systems Corporation is a minority-woman-owned, full-service Geographic Information Systems (GIS) production and environmental small business. They provide multidisciplinary databases for use in GIS, environmental and urban planning, and facilities management.

Southern Helicam provides aerial photography and video services. Tim is active in the industry and offers commentary on unmanned aircraft issues.

News

GoPro Drone ‘Recall’ Raises Oversight Questions

GoPro pulled all its Karma drones off the market in November because some of them were losing power and falling. GoPro did the right thing and asked consumers to return purchased drones for a full refund. However, it became clear that neither the FAA nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) holds jurisdiction to recall drones, leaving a hole in the system.

UAS Crystal Ball 2017 – Four things to watch for in the UAS space next year

xyHt Magazine says the four areas bearing watching in 2017 are regulation, direct georeferencing, UAS-borne lidar, and hybrid fixed-wing/multirotor platforms.

Man Who Flew Weaponized Drones Loses Bid to Return to School

A Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit by Austin Haughwout who sued Central Connecticut State University for wrongful expulsion. His lawyer plans to appeal.

Videos of the Week

Intel’s 500 Drone Light Show | Intel

#BreakTheNet Task 4 – My Cape Town Selfie

 

UAV172 Drone World Expo 2016 Review

A report on Drone World Expo, held November 15-16, 2016, in San Jose, California.

Intel Falcon 8+

Intel Falcon 8+ photo courtesy Intel Corporation

Guest

Max Trescott attended Drone World Expo 2016 and brings us his observations from the show.

Max tells us about the makeup of the attendees and the keynote panel. We hear a clip from the keynote where moderator Gretchen West of Hogan Lovells asks Ingo Piroth (IBM North America GTM Lead Partner, IBM Innovation & Emerging Tech, IBM Global Business Services) to offer some examples of the more forward thinking use cases and what people need to be looking out for. Ingo believes observation-based missions will outnumber cargo missions.

Intel showed their Aero Compute Board, the Intel® Atom™ processor-powered developer kit, and the Intel Falcon 8+ drone system. We also hear reflections on agriculture market presentations, including the esri Drone2Map for ArcGIS system and the MicaSense remote sensing solutions for agriculture and other applications.

The conversation touches on unmanned industry consolidation and the DroneHive model for project manpower and outsourcing of UAS services. We also mention the Fruity Chutes parachute recovery systems for drones.

Max Trescott is a flight instructor, author, and publisher. He is a regular co-host on the Airplane Geeks podcast and is an occasional contributor to The UAV Digest. Learn more about Max at G1000book.com.

Video of the Week

6B6 Airport Promo Trailer

This drone video was shot at 6B6, Minuteman Airfield in Stow, Massachusetts, and represents a coordinated effort between the airport owner, the pilots, and the drone operator.

 

 

UAV171 UAS Flights Over Unsheltered People

Rulemaking for sUAS flights over people moves forward, fuel cell-powered UAVs, a drone detection system, a Predator for humanitarian relief, drones flying in formation, and autonomous aircraft collaboration.

H3 Dynamics Hywing

Hywing long endurance fixed-wing UAV demonstrator, courtesy H3 Dynamics

News

Big News: Proposed Small UAS Rule for Flights Over People at White House for Review

Hogan Lovells reports that the FAA sent to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) the proposed rulemaking for the operation of sUAS over unsheltered people not directly participating in the operation. OIRA reviews draft regulations before they are implemented and any member of the public can request a meeting with the agency to discuss the proposed rule.

UAV Update: Fuel cells, Droneboxes and hostile drones

This article is a round-up of a number of newsworthy drone stories, including:

Singapore energy storage company H3 Dynamics has applied fuel cell technology to its Hywings UAV and claims up to 10 hours flight endurance. The company also created Dronebox that can be used as a remote base station for drones. Dronebox can recharge drone using solar panels, and offers the possibility for stationing drones for autonomous missions, like crop surveys.

Elbit Systems in Israel announced ReDrone which detects, tracks, and takes out drones. The system can determine the direction of the drone and the operator, operates over 360 degrees and provides real-time situational awareness of multiple drones.

General Atomics is offering the Angel One for humanitarian relief missions. Based on the Predator-C Avenger UAV, it can carry up to 8,500 pounds of Humanitarian Daily Ration packets (HDRs) for 3,400 people

AeroVironment is looking to the commercial market with its Quantix vertical takeoff and landing quadrotor drone. Controlled with an Android tablet, data can subsequently be processed within the AeroVironment Decision Support System (AV DSS). Availability is expected by spring 2017.

Drexel University Student Charged After Drone Flies Over Center City Protesters

A drone was observed flying over 300 protesters marching in Philadelphia. Police and news helicopters followed the drone which led them to a man operating the drone from a rooftop. A SWAT team took a 20-year-old man into custody inside the building. He could face various charges,  including recklessly endangering another person and risking a catastrophe.

Disney’s Latest Attraction? 300 Drones Flying in Formation

The “Starbright Holidays” in Orlando will feature 300 Intel Shooting Star quadcopters with LED lights. Each weighs a little over half a pound and is constructed of soft materials such as plastics and foam. The drones are assigned light show roles only after each has been queried by the system to assess details like battery level and GPS signal. Then each gets its assignment and an operator deploys them all with the push of a button.

Human-Machine Teams: Lockheed Martin UAS and Optionally-Piloted Helicopters Validate Firefighting and Search-and-Rescue Capabilities

Lockheed Martin conducted a demonstration of firefighting and search-and-rescue capability using four autonomous vehicles. The optionally-piloted Kaman K-MAX, the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), the Indago quadrotor, and a Desert Hawk 3.1 fixed wing UAS worked collaboratively. Indago located hot spots, sent that information to an operator who directed the K-MAX to autonomously retrieve water from a pond and drop it on the fire. Then, the Desert Hawk located the missing person, and the K-MAX and SARA completed the search and rescue mission.

Video of the Week

Lockheed Martin Autonomous Aircraft Conduct Firefighting, Rescue Mission

 

UAV170 UAS for Precision Agriculture

We talk with the founder of a company that provides drones for precision agriculture.

The AgEagle RX60

The AgEagle RX60

Guest

Bret Chilcott founded AgEagle Aerial Systems in 2013 as a spin-off of a Kansas State University research project. AgEagle provides data acquisition drones for precision agriculture. They are an FAA Section 333 exemption holder, and their drone technology captures aerial images of crop health. Bret is a private pilot and prior to founding the company, he held sales and marketing positions with Cessna Aircraft and Cobalt Boats.

CEO Bret ChilcottBret describes how drones can help growers achieve their precision agriculture objectives. He gives us some insight into the state of the market and how farmers view the new technology. We talk about using AgEagle’s drone technology to quickly capture aerial images of crop health, and how the resulting prescription map identifies areas of stress such as disease and pests or improper irrigation. Growers can then utilize their equipment more efficiently, reduce costs, increase crop yields, and minimize environmental impact.

The AgEagle fixed-wing RX60 is a durable, lightweight, professional-grade drone. It’s electric-powered, encased in carbon fiber, with a flight time of about one hour. The RX60 can capture aerial NIR/NDVI maps of 300 acres or more per flight for image acquisition supporting precision agriculture growers and agronomists.

Find AgEagle Aerial Systems, Inc. at AgEagle.com, be sure to visit them on Facebook, and follow the AgEagle YouTube channel.

108-2 Stinson

Bret’s 108-2 Stinson, “Charlie”

UAV169 The X-37B Space Drone

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, Part 107 implications for business, UAS for NOAA, and a drone detecting system.

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force.

News

The Air Force’s space drone has been in orbit for over 500 days — and its mission is classified

The Boeing X-37B looks a little like a baby Space Shuttle, and its purpose is not public.

The Impact of Commercial UAVs on Corporate America Part 1

The author writes about the impact of UAV package delivery on the package delivery industry, and on companies that use that industry to ship products to customers.

Part 107: What We Got, What We Didn’t, What We Need

The article reviews the major rules in Part 107 and discusses the commercial implications of visual line of sight restrictions, and limits to flying over people.

Waves of Innovation

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) created the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program in 2008 to evaluate UAS technology for use in NOAA operations.

Cherokee Nation Technologies continues support of NOAA-led program helping forecasters better predict hurricanes

Cherokee Nation Technologies is working with NOAA and NASA in the areas of hurricane forecasting and post-storm damage assessment.

DeDrone provides drone security for presidential debates

Technology from German company Dedrone GmbH has been used to protect U.S. presidential candidates.

Mentioned

70 Drone Blogs to Follow in 2017

 

 

UAV168 Unmanned Aircraft Safety with Dr. Todd Curtis

Aviation safety analyst Dr. Todd Curtis discusses unmanned aircraft safety.

Guest

Dr. Todd Curtis

Dr. Todd Curtis

Dr. Todd Curtis is an aviation safety analyst, author, and publisher. He founded AirSafe.com in 1996 to provide the public with useful information about airline safety, fear of flying, plane crashes, TSA security, and other issues of concern to the traveling public.

Todd was an airline safety engineer at Boeing, and he’s a frequent on-air aviation expert on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, CBC, BBC, Discovery Channel, NPR, and many other major news media outlets around the world. Follow him on Twitter at @airsafe.

Unmanned Aircraft Safety

We talk with Todd about the safety parallels between manned aviation and unmanned aviation, what unmanned can learn from manned, and how unmanned aviation impacts safety for manned aviation. Also, Todd tells us about the new safety challenges that unmanned aviation creates.

News

Drone startup funding crashes

Funding for drone companies in the third quarter of 2016 was 48% below the second quarter, and down 59% from the third quarter of 2015. Granted, startup funding, in general, is down 39% over the 2015 quarter 3 level, but funding is down even more.

Self-driving truck makes first shipment: 50,000 cans of beer

The first commercial shipment by self-driving vehicle took place on October 20 when Budweiser teamed up with autonomous vehicle company Ottomotors for a 120-mile tractor-trailer trip along a Colorado highway.

Amazon Looks to add Alexa Intelligence Technology to UAS

Amazon sees a future where its patented Alexa intelligence is added to very small drones, for missions like finding lost children, locating your car in a parking lot, and acting as a personal security guard.

Sweden bans cameras on drones

The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden ruled that cameras mounted to drones are “surveillance cameras,” and thus require an expensive and difficult to obtain permit.

Israel Refuses To Sign US Regulation Of Drone Exports Document

Israel says it will not sign the US document on the regulation of drone exports. They say it could damage Israeli exports.

Hero Uncle Terrorizes Public With Drone-Mounted Angel of Death

With Halloween upon us in the U.S., it’s time again for spooky costumes, and that includes scary flying drones.

The Baywatch Inspired Drone

The Amphibious Joint Lifeguard UAV is a surveillance drone concept that is also a floatation device. First, the drone flies to the victim, then drops onto the water. The victim grabs the drone, which then powers the victim to shore.