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The Drone Manufacturers Alliance is formed, a Digital Notice and Awareness System for airports starts, the Micro UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee report is published, a satellite navigation system competition begins, and a new facial-recognition drone is available.
The Small UAV Coalition was formed to advocate “for law and policy changes to permit the operation of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) beyond the line-of-sight, with varying degrees of autonomy, for commercial, consumer, recreational and philanthropic purposes.”
Now DJI, GoPro, 3DR, and Parrot have left the Coalition to form The Drone Manufacturers Alliance to focus on small drone and consumer issues. The Alliance hasn’t yet developed official policy statements, but they do say they the Alliance “… will serve as the voice for drone manufacturers and our customers across civilian, governmental, recreational, commercial, nonprofit and public safety applications. We will advocate for policies that promote innovation and safety, and create a practical and responsible regulatory framework.”
Furthermore, “The Drone Manufacturers Alliance believes a carefully balanced regulatory framework requires input from all stakeholders and must recognize the value and necessity of continued technological innovation. By highlighting innovation and emphasizing education, we intend to work with policymakers to ensure drones continue to be safely integrated into the national airspace.”
AirMap and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) have released the Digital Notice and Awareness System (D-NAS), designed to allow airport operators to be aware of drone flights in the area. D-NAS lets UAS operators transmit encrypted digital flight notices through a mobile device app to the airport’s operations center. The “flight plan” shows up on an airport computer with the planned location of the flight, radius, height, and duration.
The Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (the “ARC”) has delivered its report on proposed rules for flying over populated areas. The stated objective of the ARC was “to consider recommendations for a performance-based standard that would allow for micro UAS to be operated over people who are not directly participating in the operation of the UAS or under a covered structure,” which would ultimately contribute to an enforceable rule imposed by the FAA.
The Committee report Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC): ARC Recommendations Final Report, [PDF] proposes to divide small UAS into four categories:
Under Category 1, a small UAS may operate over people if the weight (including accessories/payload, e.g., cameras) is 250 grams or less. The ARC believes that the level of risk of injury posed by this category of UAS is so low that no performance standards and no operational restrictions beyond those imposed by the proposed part 107 are necessary.
Under Categories 2, 3, and 4, a small UAS may operate over people if it does not exceed the impact energy threshold specified for each category, as certified by the manufacturer using industry consensus test methods, and if its operator complies with operational restrictions specified for each category. Because the level of risk increases between Categories 2, 3, and 4, the performance-based standards and operational restrictions are scaled-up in each category to mitigate the increased risks.
Category 2 applies to the larger multirotor UAS that are common for recreational and commercial drones. The UAS may operate over people if the manufacturer certifies to the FAA that the UAS does not, in the most probable failure modes, exceed the typical or likely impact energy threshold, and if it complies with industry consensus performance standards. The operator must also comply with the operator instruction manual, must maintain minimum set-off distances of 20 feet above people’s heads, or 10 feet laterally away from people, and may not operate so close to people as to create an undue hazard to those people.
Category 3 applies to UAS in commercial applications where the small number of people over which it might fly are all part of the commercial activity. The operation must be conducted over a closed or restricted-access work site with the permission of the site’s owner or operator. Overflight of people is limited to those who are transient or incidental to the operation.
Category 4 applies to small UAS that may operate over people, including flights over crowds or dense concentrations of people not included in Category 3. The manufacturer of the UAS must certify that the UAS does not, in the most probable failure modes, exceed the typical or likely impact energy threshold, and the UAS must comply with industry consensus performance standards. Significantly, the operation must be conducted in compliance with a documented, risk mitigation plan, which was developed and adopted in accordance with industry consensus standards for conducting risk mitigation.
For commercial operations, the Air Line Pilots Association and helicopter and crop dusting industry representatives wanted an aviation knowledge test administered by the FAA and a background check from the TSA. However, most Committee members wanted only an online knowledge test.
The European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) is said to be the largest international competition for the commercial use of satellite navigation. Thorsten Rudolph, the CEO of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen and initiator of the competition said, “We believe civilian drones have enormous potential in connection with the ESNC. We want to focus even more on the topic this year to promote the foundation of more visionary companies in the surrounding future market.”
The submission phase for services, products, and business innovations runs from 1 April to 30 June 2016. Visit the European Satellite Navigation Competition website for more information.
People are obsessed with selfies these days. “Dronies” are the next technological step, and now we have the $349 ROAM-e drone from IoT Group that uses facial recognition technology to take self-portraits. The ROAM-e will follow you in the air for up to 20 minutes, fly within 25m of you, and always stay in constant view.
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