Tag Archives: agriculture

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.

 

 

UAV161 Exemptions to Part 107 Granted

The FAA quickly grants some Part 107 exemptions, drought-stricken agriculture embraces UAS, the Facebook Aquila drone is meeting with some success, and a robot pilot offers to make existing aircraft unmanned.

 

Photokite Pro

Photokite Pro tethered flying camera system for professional use cases and live broadcasting

News

CNN Wins FAA Waiver To Fly Newsgathering Drones Over People

CNN received a Part 107 waiver from the FAA to fly UAS in the U.S. over people. Previously, CNN had only flown only over unpopulated areas. The newsgathering duties are performed with a small Fotokite Pro tethered quadcopter. Earlier this month CNN announced its Aerial Imagery and Reporting (CNN AIR) unit with two full-time UAS operators.

In a first, FAA allows PrecisionHawk to fly drones where pilots can’t see them

The Federal Aviation Administration has also given PrecisionHawk an exemption to fly in the U.S. beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). The exemption came on August 29, when Part 107 became effective. PrecisionHawk Executive VP Thomas Haun said, “In agriculture, now that we have an exemption to fly beyond the visual line of sight, we can fly an entire farm, not just one field, efficiently.” The FAA issued 76 waivers on that day, most of them applying to night flying.

Virginia Woman Blasts Drone ‘to Smithereens’ with Shotgun

In June, Jennifer Youngman was at home cleaning her shotguns. Two men arrived nearby and began flying a drone in the area. Ms. Youngman happens to be a neighbor of actor/director Robert Duvall. When the drone ultimately flew over her property at a height of 25 or 30 feet, she discharged one of her newly cleaned shotguns, much to the distress of the drone.

Mark Zuckerberg meets Pope Francis, gives him a drone

On his tour of Italy following the recent earthquake which killed hundreds, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with Pope Francis. Zuckerberg presented the Pope with a model of the solar-powered Facebook Aquila drone designed to provide Internet access to regions without connectivity.

Feds turn to space experts NASA for small-drone traffic plan

Actually, NASA also has aeronautics experts, and those are the ones working on the UTM, the UAS Traffic Management project. NASA has two “A”s.

In drought, drones help California farmers save every drop

The severe California drought continues, with dire consequences for farmers growing food. One farmer with a 2,400-acre tomato crop estimates his drones that detect irrigation leaks could save enough water for over 550 families of four for a year. He also started using a thermal camera to show moisture variations in soil, and even established a drone management position at his company. AUVSI (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) says about 2,100 companies and individuals have FAA permission to fly drones for farming.

Flight fantastic: Instead of rewiring planes to fly themselves, why not give them android pilots?

Instead of designing new planes to be unmanned aircraft, Shim Hyunchul and his colleagues at KAIST (the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) have a different idea: Put a robot in the pilot’s seat. The PIBOT (short for pilot robot) is a humanoid robot with a head, torso, arms and legs. Cameras act as eyes while arms and legs operate the controls like a human pilot.

Videos of the Week

This is Why Drones and Balloons Don’t Like to Play Together

White helium balloons were released as part of a celebration, but the wind changed and carried the balloons into a DJI Phantom. The string from one balloon caught the propellor and down came the drone.

Facebook Tests Internet-Beaming Plane

Facebook just announced the first flight of its unmanned, high-altitude Aquila unmanned aircraft.

First drone footage of Uluru released: Video

The first drone to operate under permit inside Australia’s Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park captured the spectacular 600 million-year-old monolith.

 

UAV127 Small UAS Certificate of Registration

Small UAS Certificate of Registration

Small UAS registration is proceeding in the U.S., but AMA says to hold off, package delivery robots, drone registration in the Bahamas, security drones chase thieves, the FAA gets tough with states legislating drones.

News

sUAS Registration

The FAA sUAS registration website is open for operators of small UAS intended for non-commercial use. Reportedly, 45,000 registrations were filed in the first two days.

FAA-2015-7396-0001 (Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft) asks for public comments on the December 21, 2015, Interim Final Rule. Comments must be received by January 15, 2016.

Also, 8900.338 – New Requirements for Registering and Marking Small Unmanned Aircraft.

Document Information was issued and is primarily directed to Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) aviation safety inspectors (ASI) and assigned sUAS focal points.

That document links to Notice: New Requirements for Registering and Marking Small Unmanned Aircraft [PDF] which informs Flight Standards Service field employees about the new requirements for the registration and marking of small unmanned aircraft found in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 47 and 48. It also addresses surveillance, investigation and enforcement issues:

  • ASIs should be prepared to support sUAS activity within their area of geographic responsibility.
  • The use of Risk-Based Decision Making and compliance philosophy, along with current practice and procedures, should be used to support proper surveillance and vigilance over sUAS operations and the NAS.
  • During the conduct of accident, incident, occurrence, and complaint investigations involving sUAS, ASIs will ensure that the unmanned aircraft meet the compliance requirements for registration and marking.
  • ASIs shall use the guidance published in FAA Notice 8900.313, Education, Compliance, and Enforcement of Unauthorized Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operators, and Order 8000.373, Federal Aviation Administration Compliance Philosophy, on the process of contact, education, and enforcement generally to be provided to individuals who are the subject of investigations involving sUAS aircraft.

You can find your local FSDO office at the FAA FSDO Contact page that will provide you with the address, phone, and office web page.

An alternative to drones: Company testing self-driving ‘Roomba-like’ delivery robots

Two former Skype co-founders launched Starship Technologies, a European company that plans to introduce a fleet of ground-based delivery robots. According to the company press release, the robots can carry “the equivalent of two grocery bags, the robots can complete local deliveries within 5-30 minutes from a local hub or retail outlet, for 10-15 times less than the cost of current last-mile delivery alternatives.”

All Drones Must Be Registered By February

The Bahamian Department of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Transport announced that effective February 1, all drones must be registered. Compliance is required by the end of February. This announcement is in advance of a bill that will regulate the use of unmanned aircraft in the Bahamas.

FAA OKs drone-like copter for farm use

The FAA issued a Part 137 Agricultural Aircraft Operations Certification to Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. The Yamaha RMAX remotely piloted helicopter has a takeoff weight of around 200 pounds. Spraying operations are subject to approval by state and local authorities but are expected to begin in 2016. Almost 2,600 RMAX helicopters are currently in use globally, over two million flight-hours have been logged, and more than 2.4 million acres are sprayed each year.

The drone that will CHASE thieves: Security UAV will follow invaders to make sure they are on camera

The Japanese Secom drone is intended to operate autonomously with a surveillance camera to intercept intruders and transmit images to a control center. Japan’s Aeronautics Law has been changed, and no drones are allowed over areas with a population density of 4,000 people per square kilometer or more, and drones are banned near public events such as festivals and exhibitions. Local governments are looking at or have taken action to restrict drones in other areas.

FAA Drone Laws Start to Clash With Stricter Local Rules

The FAA is finally stepping in and informing local legislators that drones are aircraft, and the FAA regulates aircraft. Some legislators seem to be complying, but others do not like what they see as Federal intrusion.

Videos of the Week

Drone Crash Slalom Marcel Hirscher

A camera drone falls from the sky and crashes just inches behind skier Marcel Hirscher.

Video from AirVūz

Four of the biggest drone racing pilots in the world embarked on a journey to recreate one of their favorite movie scenes ever! The Speeder Bike chase scene from “Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.”

Mentioned

Lufthansa, Fraport and DFS test drone technology at Frankfurt Airport

Tokyo police are using drones with nets to catch other drones

Screen Shots from the sUAS Registration Process

Visit http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/ and click “Register Now” at the bottom:

1 register

At the welcome screen, click Register My Drone:

2 register

Create an account:

3 register

Receive verification email:

4 register

Open the email and click the link to activate your account:

5 register

Read the fine print and accept:

6 register

The login page is https://registermyuas.faa.gov/login. Use the credentials for your account:

7 register

Provide profile information (your name, physical address, and mailing address):

8a register

8b register

8c register

Accept the safety guidance:

9 register

Provide credit card details for payment:

10 register

Confirm order details:

11 register

Your registration number is issued:

12 register

13 register

UAV113 Think First, Launch Second

Think Before You LaunchLockheed Martin adds drone flight plans to pilot briefings, the AMA takes a closer look at FAA drone sightings data, Canadian farmers don’t want onerous regulations, California legislators want more drone laws, InterDrone product announcements, and the Reaper gets a long-range update package.

Think Before You Launch

Think Before You Launch (TBYL) is an awareness campaign that seeks to educate both manned and unmanned aircraft operators about the hazards in the low-altitude environment. This alliance of UAS and aviation stakeholders wants to improve aviation safety and educate users about the safe and responsible operation and integration of UAS. See the TBYL Infographic [PDF].

News

Graphical drone briefing developed

Lockheed Martin adds unmanned flight plans to the weather information, NOTAMs, TAFs, and METARs already in the Next Generation Briefings online flight planning tool.

Drone hobbyists find flaws in “close call” reports to FAA from other aircraft

AMA Responds to the FAA’s Drone Sighting Report

The Academy of Model Aeronautics took a closer look at the reports of 764 close-call incidents with drones reported by the FAA in August (Pilot Reports of Close Calls With Drones Soar in 2015).

According to the AMA report New AMA Analysis: FAA Data Reveals Complex Picture of U.S. Drone Activity [PDF], the FAA data (FAA Releases Pilot UAS Reports) shows that only 27 incidents were called “near misses” by the pilots and evasive action was taken 10 times.

Some altitudes reported by pilots were too high for a UAV (19,000 – 51,000 feet) and the data included sightings of public agencies and commercial operators, as well as military flights.

The AMA says:

  • Some sightings appear to involve people flying responsibly and within the FAA’s current recreational guidelines.
  • Many things in the air – from balloons and birds to model rockets and mini blimps – are mistaken for, or reported as, drone sightings even when they are not.
  • A number of sightings have occurred over or around stadium events, wildfires, power plants and other critical infrastructure. These raise different concerns from pilot sightings.
  • In almost 20 percent (142) of the reports, local law enforcement either wasn’t notified or it was unknown whether local law enforcement was notified.

KAP doesn’t want new UAV regs to unnecessarily ground farmers

Keystone Agricultural Producers of Manitoba (KAP) president Dan Mazier views drones as tools for farmers, and recognizes the need for regulations, but he doesn’t want them to be onerous. Mazier says, “KAP would like dialogue before they (Transport Canada) make regulations. If they are going to put a certain regulation in, at least consult farm groups or farmers and ask how they can work with it.”

Transport Canada says it will amend regulatory requirements for UAVs in 2016 and proposes to create UAV classifications, establish aircraft marking and registration requirements, address personnel licensing and training and create flight rules.

Bill on drones heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk

Senate Bill 168 has passed the California legislature and was sent to Governor Jerry Brown for consideration. This legislation seeks to address problems seen when drones interfere with emergency responders like firefighters. It would increase the fines for drone operators who interfere with emergency responders, and it would grant immunity to emergency responders who damage or destroy unmanned aircraft during emergency operations.

Other legislation in the pipeline at the Federal level introduced by California Legislators::

  • S. 1608, the Consumer Drone Safety Act, requires safety features on consumer drones and strengthens FAA regulations that regulate drone operation.

Reaper ER Extends RPA Missions to +33 Hours

A Reaper’s maximum endurance can grow from 27 hours to 33-35 hours by installing two wing-mounted fuel tanks as a field-retrofittable package. Other modifications to accommodate the higher gross weight include an alcohol/water injection system, a four-bladed propeller, and a stronger landing gear system. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. says the Reaper ER has been operationally fielded by the U.S. Air Force.

TWiT Live Specials #254: InterDrone Conference 2015

In this 48 minute video, Fr. Robert Ballecer SJ from the Know How maker video podcast, shows us product announcements from the InterDrone 2015 conference.

Video of the Week

Blarney Castle in County Cook

Professor Vanderhoof found this stunning video from Tourism Ireland.

Mentioned

Man fined after flying drones over Premier League stadiums

A man was fined £1,800 and banned from buying or using a drone for two years for flying over sporting events and London landmarks.

UAV073 FAA says Go, NYC says NO

Gray Eagle UAS

The FAA issues more exemptions, the NPRM might affect hobbyists, NYC looks at banning drones, agriculture eager to get started, Fort Bliss is building a drone port, and drone videos for the holidays.

News

FAA Grants Five More Commercial UAS Exemptions

The FAA granted five regulatory exemptions for unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations to four companies under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The four companies that received exemptions want to fly UAS to perform operations for aerial surveying, construction site monitoring, and oil rig flare stack inspections.

The FAA determined that the UAS in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.

The FAA has a backlog of 167 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Integration, Oversight, and Competitiveness

FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Margaret Gilligan explained that the FAA implemented a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) program which will permit Test Site designees to issue experimental certificates for unmanned aircraft.

To help the test sites develop the capability to assess unmanned aircraft and issue these certificates, the FAA developed both online and in-person training. Once test site designees have completed FAA training, they will be authorized to work within this new program.

Drone downer: Will new FAA rules ground recreational fliers?

Congress in 2012 exempted hobbyists from new FAA rules – provided they adhere to, among other things, the safety code of a community-based organization, such as the 170,000 member AMA. But there are are an estimated 300,000 non-members flying hobbyist aircraft who are largely unaware of hobbyist association safety codes.

NYC lawmaker wants to ban drones except for cops with warrants

Councilman Dan Garodnick introduced a bill banning use of all drones except for those operated by police officers with warrants:

No person may avigate a UAV within the limits of the city except:

  1. The police department in accordance with section 14-133.1.
  2. A person avigating such UAV pursuant to and within the limits of an express authorization by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Councilman Paul Vallone introduced a different bill that is less aggressive. It lists 10 instances where operating a UAV would be illegal, including at night, out of the operator’s line of sight, or above 400 ft high. Otherwise, hobbyists and commercial interests would be free to fly drones.

UAV Industry About to Take Off for Ag

At the recent Indiana/Illinois Farm Show, there was big interest in drones. Agricultural applications of UAV technology are taking place in Canada and Europe because drone use is not illegal. U.S. farmers are being cautious until the FAA creates regulations for commercial use, but several exhibitors at the Show were offering UAVs for sale. At price points between $1,200 and  $25,000, growers were advised to start low and evaluate the systems before making large investments.

Fort Bliss builds Gray Eagle UAV complex

The “droneport” will have a 50,000 square foot hangar and flight facility for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, an upgraded Predator. The Gray Eagle has a Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE), which can support various types of fuels. With the hangar will come a 5,000 foot runway, taxiways and aprons. A 1,000 foot runway will be made for the RQ-7 Shadows.

Program to Address Growing Need for Drone Operators

In the spring 2015 semester, Florida State University plans to launch the “Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems” course as part of the new Application of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems program. It’s part of the University’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security (EMHS) program.

Videos of the Week

Christmas on Wendhurst

A drone’s eye view of an amazing Christmas display shot by Daryl Watkins.

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens Deck the Hall 2014 Aerial Video

Andrew Cross created a Christmas display video of the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens using a DJI Phantom 2 with a 3D gimbal and GoPro 3+, and a Tarot 810 Hexacopter with a gimbaled Sony NEX5T.

Airbus A310 by MM – indoor airshow Leipzig

This 1/22 scale Airbus is flown indoors. It has a 2 meter wingspan and weighs 284 gms. The fuselage is filled with helium to help keep the weight down.

UAV062 UAVs for Agriculture

Nixie wearable droneAgriculture wants UAVs, the White House seeks drone data transparency, a wearable quadcopter, UAVs fight poachers, and Facebook plans to offer Internet access via drone.

News

FAA’s Sluggish UAV Ruling Slows Ag Research, Group Suggests

Commercial farmers everywhere are eager to apply new technology to their operations. That includes using unmanned aircraft for things like crop and livestock surveys, monitoring irrigation needs, and pest control.

Farmers in Louisiana as well as representatives from Louisiana State University’s AgCenter have formed a 17-member study group headed by a state Senator. They want to make recommendations to the FAA before it issues UAS regulations.

White House plans to require federal agencies to provide details about drones

The Obama Administration is circulating a draft Executive Order that if signed would make government use of drones more transparent.

The Order would apply to federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the Justice Department, NASA, the Interior Department, and the Commerce Department.

It would require that they provide information about the size of their fleet, how it is used, and what is done with the data collected.

Meet The Finalists Of Intel’s Make It Wearable Challenge

One of the ten finalists in the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge is “Nixie,” a wristband camera that unfolds into a remote-controlled quadcopter.

The idea is that on command, Nixie unfolds, flies up, turns around, takes a picture of you, and returns so you can catch it.

How the Shadowview Foundation uses aerial surveillance to stop poaching

With the help of the Shadowview Foundation, drones are being used to fight illegal poaching in Africa and Asia. Shadowview provides UAS for environmental, conservation, and humanitarian relief operations.

Others are active in this area. The World Wildlife Fund received a $5 million grant for its work in with drones specially designed by drone-maker Falcon UAV.

Facebook Wi-Fi Drone the Size of 747 Could Fly in 2015

Facebook plans to offer WiFi service to the two thirds of the world without Internet access via large, solar powered drones.

Fans are using drones to spy on the ‘Star Wars: episode VII’ set

Former RAF airbase, now public park Greenham Common is located about 50 miles west of London. It’s also the site where scenes for the next Star Wars movie are being filmed.

Someone identified only as “3dlp” flew a drone over the site and posted video on YouTube showing a Millennium Falcon under construction and two X-wing starfighters.

New Jersey Man Accused Of Shooting Down Neighbor’s Remote Control Drone

A man was using a drone to take pictures of a friends house under construction. A neighbor didn’t take kindly to that and took out the drone with a shotgun. He was arrested by police and charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief.

Drone used in Hannah Graham search; cops check for cold case ties

An Aeryon SkyRanger is being used in the search for missing University of Virginia student. The FAA approved the use of the drone, a first in Virginia according to authorities.

John Coggin, chief engineer of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, said the drone will be used to take a closer look at objects of interest in areas too difficult to reach by other means.

Video of the Week

“Beautiful Scotland,” A Drone’s-Eye View of the Scenic Beauty of Scotland

Edinburgh-based filmmaker John Duncan used a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter fitted with a GoPro 3+ camera FPV to shoot stunning aerial footage of Scotland for this his short film.

UAV 005 Drones are a Grass Roots Effort

PZL SW-4

This Episode:

Optionally piloted helicopters, fast response from the FAA to drone requests, a forecast of the global UAV market, success tips for UAV suppliers, and water sampling drones.

The News:

Polish SW-4 Solo to Assist Royal Navy Rotary-Wing UAS (RWUAS) Study

The SW-4 SOLO RUAS (Rotorcraft Unmanned Aerial System) is being introduced by PZL-Świdnik, and Agusta-Westland based on the PZL SW-4 light single engine helicopter. This Optionally Piloted Helicopter (OPH) is under the RWUAS (Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System) Capability Concept Demonstrator (CCD) programme as a conceptual multi-role UAV for the UK Royal Navy.

Others have activity in the OPH arena: Sikorsky Aircraft has a research program called Matrix Technology to develop systems and software for autonomous, optionally piloted, and piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. They are using an optionally piloted S-76 called the Sikorsky Autonomous Research Aircraft (S.A.R.A.) as a flying lab, and plan to demonstrate operation with an Optionally Piloted Black Hawk.

Eurocopter (now to be  renamed Airbus Helicopter) has conducted demonstration flights with an optionally piloted EC145. Reportedly, they now plan to look to OPV variants of its product line.

FAA Cuts the Red Tape to Let UAS Work Yosemite Wildfire

Desperate to get a better view of the giant wildfire last month, the call for help from the Incident Commander went to the California governor’s office, then to the Department of Defense and the FAA for help. An emergency Certificate of Authorization was issued within hours by the FAA to the California Air National Guard to fly to the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator over the Yosemite fire.

The Global UAV Market 2013-2023

A report titled “The Global UAV Market 2013–2023” has been released by Strategic Defence Intelligence. This $4,800 report states that the Global UAV market is estimated at US$114.7 billion during the next 10 years, with most coming from North America, but Europe spending US$24.3 billion on UAVs. HALE UAVs are forecast to constitute the largest share of the UAV market.

Managing The UAV Madness: 5 Keys To Success

Agricultural applications for unmanned aircraft is probably a huge opportunity. Robert Blair is a wheat grower in Kendrick, Idaho. He spoke at the InfoAg Conference about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and offered some advice.

University of Nebraska Lincoln helping develop water-sampling drones

ASCTEC Firefly

ASCTEC Firefly

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded a $956,210 grant  for the three-year “Co-Aerial Ecologist: Robotic Water Sampling and Sensing in the Wild” project as part of the National Robotics Initiative. UNL is seeking to develop a UAV that can be located near a water source, fly out and take water samples, then return them for analysis.

They already have a modified AscTec Firefly copter that can take several 20ml water samples, but it can only fly a 20 minute mission. They hope to extend that and make the vehicle autonomous. Perhaps perform on-board analysis of the water samples. From the video, you can see they’ve demonstrated the copter in the lab and outside in a pool. This is taking place at the Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems Lab (NIMBUS).