Tag Archives: AMA

UAV150 3D Printed Drone

A 3D printed aerial imaging drone, new drone sightings data analysis, a hand gesture-based controller for the Parrot AR, bad practice lawsuits, control of airspace over private property, and an autonomous aerial taxi.

O'Qualia Captor UAS

O’Qualia Captor UAS

News

O’Qualia unveils Captor UAS, a fully 3D printed commercial aerial imaging drone

Singapore-based startup O’Qualia has created the Captor UAS, said to be a high-quality aerial imaging drone with a 3D printed body.

Updated analysis of FAA drone data shows decline in UAS sightings

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) has analyzed recent FAA drone sighting data and finds that UAS sightings peaked in August 2015, but have been declining month-by-month since then.

Hacked Nintendo Power Glove lets you control drones like a wizard

The Power Glove was released in 1989 as a controller accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Only two games were available, and they did not sell well. Nolan Moore has now taken a Power Glove and turned it into a hand gesture-based controller for the Parrot AR Drone.

You can follow Moore’s the development on his project blog.

Man who built gun drone, flamethrower drone argues FAA can’t regulate him

Two lawsuits are underway for the Connecticut student who mounted a gun then a flamethrower on a quadcopter. One suit seeks to reinstate him at Central Connecticut State University, which expelled him. The other lawsuit concerns failure to comply with FAA administrative subpoenas for certain records.

Should you be allowed to keep drones from flying over your property?

This article presents the opposing views of two legal experts concerning the legal right to fly a UAV over private property. One contends that privacy and safety considerations dictate that flights unauthorized by the property owner should not be allowed.The other expert says drones are the next frontier in aviation and decisions about where drones they can fly should be made collectively.

Human-Carrying Drone Taxi to be Tested in Nevada

Ehang has received approval from the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to test the autonomous aerial taxi. A prototype of the Ehang 184 was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year.

EHANG184, world’s first Autonomous Aerial Vehicle

Drone videos endangered Bryde whale feeding in research first

Students from the Auckland University of Technology were looking at dolphins when they spotted the rare Bryde whale off the coast of New Zealand. The critically endangered whale was feeding her calf using a rarely seen process called “lunge feeding.” The students captured video using a Hex H2O waterproof drone.

Video of the Week

Drone Ballet: Watch a high-tech dance at Mount Fuji

“Sky Magic” was produced by Japanese advertising company MicroAd using twenty drones with LED lights. Traditional Japanese guitars called shamisens provide the background music.

 

 

 

 

 

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

UAV123 UAS Registration Task Force Recommendations


The UAS Registration Task Force issues its report to the FAA, and industry responds. A free, worldwide UAS course for new users, and package delivery by drone down under.

UAS Registration Task Force

UAS Task Force RecommendationsThe Registration Task Force provided its sUAS registration recommendations [PDF] to the FAA. The FAA will now consider those recommendations, as well as the public comments received, and issue its requirements for registration. If all goes according to the plan, these will come from the FAA this month, in December.

In its final report, the Task Force recommended:

  • Registration for all drones between 250 grams (.55 pounds) and 55 pounds operated outdoors
  • Registration by owner, not by drone. One registration number applies to all your drones.
  • As an alternative, you can instead register by manufacturer serial number.
  • Registration is required by time of flight, not at point of sale.
  • Required information: name and street address.
  • Optional information: email address, phone number.
  • Registration number (or serial number) displayed on each drone.
  • No fee, no citizenship requirement, minimum age 13.
  • Registration should be web-based with the certificate mailed/emailed to registrant.

AMA Reacts to DOT Task Force Recommendations on UAS Registration

The “AMA agrees that registration of UAS makes sense at some level and for flyers operating outside the guidance of a community-based organization or flying for commercial purposes.” But the Academy of Model Aeronautics does not support registration for its membership flying non-commercially.

The organization argues that members operate under a community-based organization: “Adding an additional requirement for AMA members to register at the federal level is contrary to the intent of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Public Law clearly states that the FAA is prohibited from promulgating any new rules for recreational users operating within the safety guidelines of a community-based organization. Congress by no means intended to grant a free pass for individuals who operate model aircraft. Instead, it clearly intended to leave risk mitigation and the development of appropriate safety guidelines for the operation of these devices by the members of the AMA to the nationwide community-based organization.”

DJI Concludes Participation on FAA Drone-Registration Task Force

“We share the concerns of many of the 4,700 people who filed comments that this process was initiated in response to sensational headlines rather than data-based risk assessments, and contradicts the provisions of several federal statutes. Nonetheless, we undertook in good faith the assignment, which was not to argue the law, but to use our expertise and knowledge as the world’s largest drone manufacturer to recommend to the Administrator a national drone registration system intended to be minimally burdensome to consumers and professionals, and effective at the stated goals.”

5 Things to Know About Mandatory Drone Registration

Lia Reich is Senior Director of Communications at PrecisionHawk, and PrecisionHawk was a member of the task force. In this piece, Lia provides some major points concerning the Task Force recommendations, but she also notes that she was on the “Women in Drones” panel at the Drone World Expo in San Jose. The panel discussed some of the ways that women can better influence outcomes in the commercial drone space.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide to Offer Free Online UAS Course for New Users

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide is offering “Unmanned Aerospace Systems (UAS) – Key Concepts for New Users.” The massive open online course (MOOC) runs from Jan. 11 to 24, 2016. Registration opens Dec. 8, 2015.

The MOOC will consist of two 30 to 40-minute pre-recorded presentations, interactive discussion boards, and supporting links and videos. MOOC topics will include:

  • UAS Basics
  • The UAS Operating Environment
  • The National Airspace System (NAS)
  • Understanding the Basic Dos/Don’ts of UAS/Recreational Drone Operations
  • Planning to Fly Safe

Embry-Riddle says, “The primary goal is to educate new UAS users about effective operating procedures that foster safe UAS operations.”

UAV Propulsion Tech Post #13 – UAV’s Spotted at Dubai Airshow 2015

Bob Schmidt, president of UAV Propulsion Tech, attended this year’s Dubai Airshow looking for potential UAV customers for propulsion, servo, autopilot, and rescue/recovery parachute products. Bob’s well-illustrated report describes the UAVs at the airshow, but notes that there weren’t as many UAV exhibitors as he had hoped.  Bob looks forward to the UMEX show (Unmanned Systems Exhibition & Conference) in Abu Dhabi March 6-8, 2016 since this event is focused on UAVs.

Australia Post could soon be delivering packages with drones

Australia Post is trialing package delivery with drones that could be put to use as early as next year. The $10,000 drones will carry 2kg packages up to 25km, although the Post is looking at transporting 10kg packages.

Video of the Week

Flying Drones in rural areas

The Colorado Agricultural Aviation Assoc., Agribotix, UAS Colorado, and Avian conducted a test to see if pilots flying crop-dusting and other low-flying aircraft could see drones flying over the same fields. They could not.

Mentioned

The RoboUniverse Conference and Expo takes place December 14-16, 2015 in San Diego, California. It begins with a half day of interactive tutorials, followed by 2 days of conference sessions and exhibit hall access. Sessions include a drones track and keynote sessions by industry leaders, such as Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics. Other features include Drone Zone demos, an EZDrone Crash Course, and RoboGameChanger startup competition. If you act fast, you can get 10% off the conference price when you use the discount code “DIGEST.”

David participated in the Drone Laws and Technology / Latest TSA Adjustments conversation on Hong Kong’s Radio 3. You can listen to the panel on the Backchat podcast.

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.

UAV058 Making and Breaking UAV Laws

Cyber Technology Cyber QuadFAA sued over drone restrictions, UAV arrests and confiscations, privacy legislation in California, UCLASS delay, NASA developing ATC for drones, Disney seeks UAS patents.

News

Lawsuits Assert Broad Economic and Scientific Impact of FAA’s Drone Restrictions

Three lawsuits have been filed by attorney Brenden Schulman (@dronelaws) over the FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. These were filed on behalf of:

1. The Academy of Model Aeronautics and its 170,000 members

The “no commercial operation” prohibition means no model aircraft public demonstrations or model aircraft training when some payment is involved, as well as competition prizes, and product reviews conducted by employees.

2. Several commercial drone interests, including: Peter Sachs and the Drone Pilots Association, the UAS America Fund (founded to finance the commercial drone industry), Skypan International, an aerial photography firm, and FPV Manuals (sells equipment for model aircraft).

No services can be offered with model aircraft that have even an incidental business purpose, and Peter Sachs cannot assist the volunteer fire department.

3. The Council on Governmental Relations, an association of US research universities.

Model aircraft for scientific research have long been used without any FAA restrictions. The FAA’s interpretation “poses a grave threat to science, research, education, and technological innovation across the United States.”

Customs seizes $80k worth of unauthorised drones

Australian UAV manufacturer Cyber Technology is being prosecuted for failure to obtain a permit to export drones. The list of “Defence and Strategic Goods” controlled by Australian law includes UAVs that can be controlled outside line of sight.

College student arrested for flying drone over football game

A University of Texas student allegedly flew a drone over a school football game. University police identified the student and seized the drone. In a statement to a local TV station, University Police said, “Our top priority is the safety our students, employees, fans and visitors.”

FAA allows recreational drone demonstrations for first time ever at an air show & it’s in Cleveland

This year’s Cleveland Air Show included demonstrations of fixed-wing and multicopter drones for the attendees. It represented a great opportunity to provide the general public with more awareness of what “drones” are all about.

CA State Senate Approves Law Limiting Drone Use by Police

To address privacy concerns, the State Senate in California has passed legislation that requires police to obtain surveillance warrants in order to use drones, unless exigent circumstances exist.

This seems to be at odds with the 1989 case, Florida v. Riley, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that citizens do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy from the air because airplanes and helicopters fly over private property all the time.

U.S. Navy delays start of bidding for unmanned carrier-based drone

The U.S. Navy had planned to release this month a final request for proposals for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance Strike (UCLASS) contract. Now they say they’ll wait until the Pentagon conducts a broad review of intelligence and surveillance programs this fall.

NASA is building an air traffic control system for drones

NASA is working with to create technologies for controlling air traffic control for drones operating at low altitudes, around 400 to 500 feet off the ground.

Disney Sees Drone-Operated Entertainment

Disney has filed three patent applications to use unmanned aerial systems at its theme parks. The patents envision using multiple UASs to support lightweight materials that can be used as projection screens, creating “flixels” or floating pixels, and animating Disney characters in the night sky.

Videos of the Week

Napa Earthquake 2014 Quadcopter Test Video from Doug.

DJI Drone Video: The Arrival of the USCG Eagle in Gloucester Ma from Rick.

Angry ram takes down drone from @DroneMama.

Mentioned

PrecisionHawk

UAV047 FAA! We’re Going to Need a Stiff Drink!

Drone Prize 2014

FAA defines Model Aircraft, UAV’s banned from US National Parks, fourth UAS test site operational, Washington Post study of crashing UAVs, a prize for your drone video, the latest news on UAVs in Brazil and Australia, and CNN wants to prove news drones are safe.

The News

FAA Claims Authority Over Unsafe Model Aircraft Flights

The FAA has published a policy notice stating that the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 gives the FAA authority to regulate model aircraft as unmanned aircraft if the model is flown in an unsafe manner.

According to the FAA press release, this guidance “comes after recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people.”

The Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft says:

“This action provides interested persons with the opportunity to comment on the FAA’s interpretation of the special rule for model aircraft established by Congress in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. In this interpretation, the FAA clarifies that: model aircraft must satisfy the criteria in the Act to qualify as model aircraft and to be exempt from future FAA rulemaking action; and consistent with the Act, if a model aircraft operator endangers the safety of the National Airspace System, the FAA has the authority to take enforcement action against those operators for those safety violations.”
Provide your comments to FAA by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal and searching for docket number FAA-2014-0396.

FAA Interpretive Rule addressing “Special Rule for Model Aircraft” Academy of Model Aeronautics response

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) is not happy. They point out that they have managed model aircraft for 77 years. Furthermore, the Special Rule for Model Aircraft established by Congress exempts model aircraft from regulation as long as the activity “is conducted in accordance with and within the safety programing of a community-based organization,” that being the AMA.

US officials move to ban drones from national parks

Because it believes unmanned aircraft annoy visitors, harass wildlife and threaten safety, the U.S. National Park Service is banning unmanned aircraft.

In its press release, Prohibition of Unmanned Aircraft in National Parks, the NPS says the policy memorandum “directs superintendents nationwide to prohibit launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service.”

US ban for national park drones contrasts to AU indifference

The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority is proposing that UAVs weighing less than two kg should not be regulated.

Writer Ben Sandilands says that he expects “that CASA and the Minister will embrace the chaos, and the maiming, damaging and even loss of life that is expected to ensue as the popularity of light weight drones costing small change takes off.”

FAA Announces Texas UAS Test Site Now Operational

The FAA has issued a two-year Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to the Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi UAS test site, making it the fourth of six to become operational. The COA allows the Texas site to use an American Aerospace Advisors RS-16 UAS.

This test site will concentrate on:

  • safety of operations and data gathering in authorized airspace,
  • UAS airworthiness standards,
  • command and control link technologies,
  • human-factors issues for UAS control-station layout,
  • detect-and-avoid technologies.

When Drones Fall from the Sky

A Washington Post investigation reveals that since 2001, more than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed around the world. The causes for the crashes are things like mechanical breakdowns, human error, and bad weather.

The Washington Post call this “a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic.”

Drone Prize 2014

Sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the AUVSI Cascade Chapter, this competition seeks to demonstrate drones used to serve the greater good. If you fly your drone with a civic purpose on a mission to improve society, share your video to show the difference you made, and enter to win more than $10,000 in prizes.

Participants who enter must fly their drone strictly for hobby or recreational purposes. Entries will be accepted through July 27th, 2014. Open to USA residents only.

All eyes on Brazil’s drone boom

Brazil doesn’t have restrictive regulations for UAVs, so business is booming. There are eight UAV manufacturers in São Paulo alone. But Brazilian Air Force Major Luiz Felipe says that doesn’t mean you can spy with your drone with impunity.

The Brazilian Air Force uses two Elbit Systems drones for patrol and surveillance of borders, major sporting events, and drug smuggling activity.

There is no new news on the World Cup spying incident. A FIFA spokesperson says there have been no further discoveries, and that they don’t even have confirmation that it even happened.

CASA plans legal action over drone crash in Geraldton

A triathlon competitor in Australia sustained injuries after she was allegedly hit in the head by a UAV, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority plans to take legal action against the pilot. That pilot says he lost control after being “channel hopped.”

CNN wants to prove that drones are safe for news reporting

CNN and the Georgia Institute of Technology have started a research project to understand how news-gathering UAVs could be used safely in US airspace.

Video of the Week

Propellerheads Aerial Photography wedding video. Parker takes Airwolf up to document a wedding and the fireworks after the ceremony.

Mentioned

Drones Over America, a 60 Minutes Segment, via Charley.

UAV036 No Fly Zones for UAVs

DJI: No FLY Zones

Phantom firmware update addresses safety concerns, FAA files appeal brief in Trappy case, a search and rescue team fights to use quadcopters, 33 organizations appeal to the FAA, machine guns versus drones, Google beats out Facebook for atmospheric satellites, and a drone pilot is charged with a felony.

The News:

Chinese manufacturer programs Phantom drones with no-fly zones to protect Australian airports

DJI Innovations is introducing a firmware update to the Phantom 2 quadcopter “to increase flight safety and prevent accidental flights” in around 350 “No Fly Zones” world-wide. The update downloads a global GPS database of restricted locations. If the Phantom has a sufficient GPS signal, it will not fly into the restricted area.

The airport list includes Category A for large international airports with a 5 mile safety zone. In the first 1.5 mile radius, you will be unable to take off. From 1.5 miles to 5 miles from the airport, there is an increasing height limitation – 35 feet at 1.5 miles to 400 feet at 5 miles.

Category B features a 0.6 mile safety zone radius, and is intended for smaller airports. Inside that zone, you will be unable to take off.

If you approach a safety zone from outside the radius, you receive a warning. If you accidentally fly into a safety zone, and then your Phantom acquires a GPS signal the Phantom lands immediately inside the no-takeoff area, and descends to the specified maximum height in the height-restricted area.

FAA Files Appeal Brief In Closely-Watched Drone Pilot Case

The FAA has filed its appeal brief in their case against Raphael Pirker, which they lost in a ruling by an NTSB judge. Two issues are raised by the FAA in the brief:

1. The judge erred in determining that Pirker’s small drone was not an “aircraft,” as defined by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs).

2. The judge erred in determining that the small drone’s operation was not subject to the FARs.

Search teams that rely on drones run afoul of FAA

The Vernon Parish, Louisiana Sheriff’s Office asked Texas EquuSearch for help in finding the missing James Stephens, and they put out a call for searchers on foot and ATV.

The group has used small drones for searches since 2005, and has located the bodies of 11 missing persons. Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller, in referring to the FAA prohibition said, “We’ll go by some of their rules, but certainly not all of them. There is a possibility he (Stephens) could be still be alive out there, so yes we’re going to use it.”

AMA and AUVSI lead 33 organizations in calling on FAA to expedite rulemaking for Unmanned Aircraft Systems [PDF]

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and 31 other organizations sent a letter to the FAA “encouraging the agency to expedite the rulemaking process for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations in the U.S. airspace. The letter also calls on the FAA to allow the limited use of small UAS for commercial purposes before the final rulemaking is completed.”

The letter states, “The time for resolution has come, and we cannot afford any further delays. The technology is advancing faster than the regulations to govern it. While the FAA has indicated its intention to appeal the Pirker decision to the full National Transportation Safety Board, we strongly encourage the FAA to simultaneously expedite its small UAS rulemaking and issue notice and public comment as soon as possible.”

Stunning video of machine guns shooting at target drones shows how difficult hitting a remotely piloted aircraft can be

When David Cenciotti posted images in The Aviationist of a small drone believed to be used by the U.S. Army in Pakistan and Iraq, some thought these UAVs would be an easy target for small arms fire. So a group at a shooting range in Arizona thought they’d test the theory with automatic weapons. They weren’t very successful.

Google Grabs Drone Company and Google Bought a Drone Company, Which Isn’t At All Creepy, Nope

We thought solar-powered UAV-maker Titan Aerospace was getting bought by Facebook. We were wrong and it now looks like Google is picking them up.

Titan UAVs can stay aloft for 5 years, making them a good platform to deliver Internet access to remote locations. Google already has its “Project Loon” which is balloon-based. And the Titan “atmospheric satellites” might also support Google Maps.

Police: Ohio Man’s Drone Hindered Medical Chopper

A hobbyist who flew his $4,000 hexacopter over a crash scene has been charged with a felony. Authorities say he was told to stand down but did not when a medical helicopter was about to land. He’s facing a felony charge of obstructing official business, and misdemeanor charges of misconduct at an emergency and disorderly conduct.

Video of the Week: Prototype Quadrotor with Machine Gun

Mentioned:

UAV025 Drones in Dangerous Environments

X-47B UCAS

Drones for defense says Navy, the CPB Predator B russels up a conviction, drones go nuke, a quadcopter that thinks its a Falcon, the AMA and FAA come together, and spotting a fire.

The News:

Bring on the Countermeasure Drones

Rethinking the drone as a defensive weapon rather than offensive. The UCAV can be used to protect the Carrier Battle Fleet while manned systems take on the offense. Also, the drones can act as deception device to fool sea skimming missiles. This is not a new idea – the ADM-20 Quail decoy would be dropped from a B-52 and to radar would look like 3 B-52s in formation.

Predator drone helps convict North Dakota farmer in first case of its kind

After an armed standoff over cattle rustling, the County Sheriff requested that Customs and Border Protection monitor a 3000 acre farm. The Predator B ( CPB Reaper) gathered enough evidence to arrest and convict the suspect.

Drones used to measure radiation in Fukushima nuclear plant

The tsunami that devastated Japan and killed thousands of people also took out the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The resulting radiation leak exceeds levels that are safe for humans. The Japanese Atomic Energy Agency and the Japanese Space Exploration Agency have developed a fixed-wing drone to monitor radiation levels.

Drone with legs can perch, watch and walk like a bird

Multicopters generally don’t have sophistocated landing gear. After studying bird landings, Vishwa Robotics in Brighton, Massachusetts has developed legs modeled after the American Kestrel.

AMA/FAA sign memorandum of understanding

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have agreed to collaborate on safe operation of model aircraft in the national airspace.

Fire In Branford Quarry; Evacuation Order Lifted

Firefighters use a quadcopter to evaluate a fire near a dynamite stockpile.