Tag Archives: Amazon

UAV106 UAS Traffic Management

NASA UTM Chart]Observations from the NASA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management Convention, including the Amazon Prime Air proposal for drone traffic management.

Guest

Max Trescott attended the NASA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management Convention (or UTM) and gives us his impressions of the event. Max is a general aviation pilot, a certified flight instructor, an aviation author, and a glass cockpit expert. He also flies quadcopters.

Discussion

The UTM convention was an opportunity for NASA and others to share their visions for managing low altitude commercial drone traffic. Presentations were given by Amazon, Google, Cisco, FAA, NTSB, DOD, California DOT, law enforcement, and others. There were panel discussions, vendor displays, and demonstrations.

Google talked about the role of “Airspace Service Provider” (ASP). Under this concept, UAV operators would file flight plans with an ASP, which would then coordinate these with other ASPs to ensure non-conflicting flights. Google is said they are developing a lightweight, low-cost dual band ADS-B transceiver. FreeFlight Systems showed prototype weighing just 215 grams.

Amazon details its plan for how drones can fly safely over U.S. skies

Amazon drone management proposal

Amazon Prime Air vice president Gur Kimchi described Amazon’s idea for a drone air traffic management system. In Amazon’s view, drones with different capabilities would have different airspace rights, with an underlying control system managing it all.

Airspace under 200 feet would be designated for low-speed local traffic. Drones in that zone wouldn’t require the most sophisticated collision-avoidance technology. Airspace from 200-400 feet would be for high-speed transit – the highway for drones. Sophisticated sense-and-avoid technology would be a requirement there. Finally, a no-fly buffer zone would exist from 400 to 500 feet.

UTM builds

As a technology enabler, NASA is developing an airspace management control system. They plan four “builds” of the software over the next 4 years. Build 1 is a reservation system for exclusive access to the airspace and is due out August 2015. The culminating Build 4 in March 2019 would manage beyond line-of-sight drone flights in congested urban areas.

UAV094 The Amazon Patent for Package Delivery by Drone

Amazon Patent 20150120094Amazon patents package delivery by drone, using drones to plant trees, a new Israeli UAV company, another manned aircraft maker goes unmanned, and the Arctic becomes a no drone zone.

News

Here are Amazon’s plans for delivery drones

Amazon Technologies, Inc. of Seattle, Washington was awarded Patent 20150120094 on April 30, 2015. The patent “…describes an unmanned aerial vehicle (“UAV”) configured to autonomously deliver items of inventory to various destinations. The UAV may receive inventory information and a destination location and autonomously retrieve the inventory from a location within a materials handling facility, compute a route from the materials handling facility to a destination and travel to the destination to deliver the inventory.”

Drones to repopulate forests, 1 billion trees at a time

BioCarbon Engineering of Oxford, England-based is planning to use drones to assist in populating the world’s forests. Scout drones survey the area to create a 3D map, then drones with pressurized air canisters launch and shoot biodegradable pre-germinated seed pods into the ground. The drones are designed and built by VulcanUAV and designed to carry the heavy load of seeds and delivery hardware.

Meteor, New Israeli UAV Company

Yitzhak Nissan, the former president of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), has formed Meteor, a new company that wants to develop “a new breed” of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Israeli Ministry of Defense said that Meteor is planning to demonstrate an affordable UAS with a maximum takeoff weight of about 350 Kilograms.

Sonex Enters UAV Market

Kitbuilt airplane maker Sonex Aircraft is collaborating with Navmar Applied Sciences Corp. (NASC) to research, engineer, and produce UAVs for the U.S. Defense Department. The first project is named Teros and will be based on the Xenos motor glider, powered by the AeroVee Turbo 100 hp piston engine. First prototype delivery is planned for June, 2015.

[AECO] Bans use of UAV’s in the Arctic

If you take an Arctic cruise with a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), you will not be able to bring and use UAVs when visiting the Arctic.

NASA Cohosts Forum on Managing Expanding Unmanned Aerial System Traffic

NASA and the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) are partnering to co-sponsor the 2015 Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management (UTM) Convention, July 28-30, at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Convention speakers are to include­­ NASA and FAA executives, industry thought leaders, innovators and stakeholders. Exhibits and flight demonstrations will feature the latest developments in unmanned aerial systems technology, and how they will impact the future of low-altitude flight.

Video of the Week

NASA Greased Lightning GL-10 prototype

Ten-Engine Electric Plane Completes Successful Flight Test

NASA Langley researchers designed and built a battery-powered, 10-engine remotely piloted aircraft. The Greased Lightning GL-10 prototype has a 10-foot wingspan and can take off like a helicopter and fly efficiently like an airplane. In this video, engineers successfully transition the plane from hover to wing-borne flight in tests at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

Mentioned

PhoneDrone: Let your smartphone be your personal drone

PhoneDrone is a Kickstarter project which turns your your smartphone into a quadcopter. Two versions are planned: one RTF and one where you 3D print the frame.

 

UAV090 Dee Jay Eye

X-47B Demonstrates Unmanned Aerial RefuelingThe X47B demonstrates autonomous refueling, 3D Robotics releases the Solo, India weaponizes small drones for crowd control, opinions on how the FAA can do a better job, and Auburn University plans to provide UAS pilot training.

News

X-47B Demonstrates Unmanned Aerial Refueling For The First Time

The Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle has successfully demonstrated autonomous aerial refueling, plugging into the aerial refueling basket behind a KC-707 tanker.

3D Robotics takes on DJI with Solo ‘smart drone’

The 3D Robotics Solo may be the smartest drone ever

3D Robotics Solo

3D Robotics released the Solo ready to fly quadcopter. They call it “The Smart Drone” and it includes an onboard 1GHz computer in addition to the Pixhawk 2 flight controller. It has full access to the GoPro camera (not included) and can stream live video. Price is US$1,000, or US$1,400 including a GoPro gimbal mount.

Security from the sky: Indian city to use pepper-spray drones for crowd control

The Senior Superintendent of police in the northern India city of Lucknow says they’ll use small drones with pepper spray to control mobs and unruly crowds. The drones they are using cost between $9,560 and $19,300, and will be fitted with a camera and pepper spray. Lucknow police have already used camera-equipped drones to monitor crowds at a recent religious festival.

FAA Speeds Up Small Drone Exemptions. But Why Not Just Issue Blanket Exemption?

This opinion piece argues that rather than issue exemptions one-by-one for sUAS operations, the FAA should issue a blanket exemption.

Auburn University receives nation’s first FAA authorization to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School

Auburn University says it has received FAA approval for a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School as part of its Aviation Center. Bill Hutto, director of the Auburn University Aviation Center said, “We will conduct commercial flight training for operators of unmanned aircraft systems outdoors and untethered. We will have the ability to offer training courses at different locations here and around the state for Auburn students, faculty, members of other public agencies and the general public.”

FAA permits Amazon to test new UAV model

Amazon had complained that the UAS approved by the FAA in March was already obsolete, due to the length of time it took to get the COA. Amazon has now received a letter from the FAA granting operation of “the Amazon-manufactured multirotor small UAS that has been described to the FAA in a confidential filing.”

33 UAV Experts Reveal Favorite Drone Accessory

UAV Coach asked 33 experts, “If you could only choose one drone accessory, which one would you choose and why?” The site, which seeks to help people fly their quadcopters, “wanted to discover what some of the top industry professionals, drone bloggers, news sites, companies, and pilots would use to enhance their flights if they only had one option.” The group of experts includes past guests Tim Trott and Parker Gyokeres. Oh, and also our own David Vanderhoof.

Video of the Week

Dragonfly – Vanuatu Disaster Relief 2015

This very interesting video documents the relief provided by the 240 foot super motor yacht “Dragonfly” after Tropical Cyclone Pam pummeled the islands of Vanuatu. Much of the video was shot with a quadcopter, and it very clearly illustrates the complete destruction of the island.

Mentioned

DJI Developer

DJI has a developer program and SDK which supports the Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision+. Support for the Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 is coming soon. iOS and Android operating systems are supported now, with Windows Phone support coming soon.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser #2

Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams take you back again to a galaxy far, far away as Star Wars returns to the big screen with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

UAV088 Conversation with a Section 333 Exemption Holder

Silent FalconWe talk about the recent FAA policy change designed to streamline the process of granting a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for holders of a Section 333 exemption. Also, we look at solar electric drones in the news, as well as the package delivery testing being done by Amazon in Canada and morphing robotic wings.

Guest

Mark Burns owns Burnz Eye View LLC, a promotion and marketing company specializing in aerial filming. We talked with Mark in Episode 83 after Burnz Eye View became the 16th company in the United States to receive a Section 333 exemption from the FAA. Mark has joined us again to give his observations on the impact of the FCC policy change for COAs on Section 333 exemption holders.

Be sure to follow the Burnz Eye View Blog for posts on topical issues, including Dear FAA, What use are Rules without Enforcement?

Also, note that Mark will be a panelist at the Unmanned Systems Institute Conference September 23-25, 2014 in Las Vegas.

News

First Solar-Electric Drone Enters Production

Silent Falcon UAS Technologies (SFUAS) has begun production of the Silent Falcon solar-electric aircraft. The Silent Falcon is a composite, fixed-wing sUAS with solar cells on its wings.

According to SFUAS, “The patent pending Silent Falcon™ is a solar/electric, all composite, modular small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) designed for commercial, public safety, and military applications. With Silent Falcon’s™ solar electric propulsion system, rugged composite structure, and three interchangeable wing configurations, it is the first sUAS capable of meeting long range and long endurance mission profiles.”

Facebook’s UAV Flies, Builds On Developments In Solar Power

Facebook announced the first flight of the Aquila subscale prototype of a solar-powered unmanned aircraft. The stratospheric “atmospheric satellite” is intended to bring the Internet to remote parts of the world. The full scale version is under construction.

Amazon tests delivery drones at secret Canada site after US frustration

The Guardian reports that Amazon is testing package delivery technology at a “secret” site in British Columbia, Canada. Amazon is said to have purchased some land where plain-clothed security guards keep those away who might wander into the area. The company is looking at using the airspace from 200 feet to 500 feet to carry the 5 pound or less packages that represent 86% of all packages they ship.

Morphing Robotic Wing Developed to Help Drones Manage Collisions

Birds can move their wings to help navigate through obstacles like tree branches, but man-made aircraft don’t have that ability. Except now researchers at Stanford University have created mechanisms that can passively morph their wings in ways similar to what birds and bats do.

Mentioned

Drone development in Alaska still on track

The Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI) is one of the six FAA UAS test sites. Funding cuts threatened the program, but a Senate subcommittee has taken action to restore the money.

Reminder

Visit http://theUAVdigest.com/nprm and you’ll be redirected to the regulations.gov web page where you can find the NPRM and submit your comments online on or before April 24, 2015.

UAV086 Dual and Arclarity Developing Sense and Avoid Solution

Dual Electronics Corporation, a manufacturer of aviation GPS and ADS-B receivers, is working with Arclarity LLC, a developer of 3D augmented reality aviation systems, to develop a sense-and-avoid solution for autonomously flying drones operating in the US airspace.

Guests

Greg Lukins, Vice President, Business Development, Dual Electronics Corp.

An engineer by training and an entrepreneur at heart, Greg pairs technologies with business opportunities, and has a 20-year track record of successfully bringing ideas, technologies and products to market globally. Greg is VP of Business Development at Dual Electronics and also manages Dual’s market leading GPS product line. He holds an MSEE, is a licensed pilot, and lives in Florida where the weather is always perfect for flying Cessnas and drones.

Brian J. Scott, Founder and Principal, Arclarity

Brian is an aviator and an engineer with experience in modeling/simulation and flight simulator projects. He is committed to applying his experience and expertise to bring enhanced situational awareness and navigation to aviation. Brian holds a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Central Florida and is an instrument rated private pilot with experience in both piston and turbine aircraft.

Dual Arclarity Sense and Avoid SolutionsDual Electronics Corporation is a subsidiary of the Namsung Corporation, and is based in Heathrow, Florida. Dual offers a wide selection of mobile electronics, marine electronics, and portable GPS and ADS-B receivers for aviation. For more information, visit www.GPS.dualav.com.

Arclarity LLC is based in Orlando, Florida and provides aerial navigation solutions centered on increased situational awareness and collision avoidance.  For further information, visit www.arclarity.com.

News

Amazon Gets Experimental Airworthiness Certificate

The FAA issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to an Amazon Logistics, Inc. unmanned aircraft (UAS) design that the company will use for research and development and crew training. The FAA typically issues experimental certificates to manufacturers and technology developers to operate a UAS that does not have a type certificate.

The FAA Says You Can’t Post Drone Videos on YouTube

An aviation safety inspector in the FAA’s Tampa office seems to believe that posting video from a drone on YouTube constitutes “commercial use” because the popular video site has advertisements. The FAA inspector was responding to a complaint.

Video of the Week

Sheer cliffs, dense jungle and its own climate: Mesmerising drone footage captures haunting beauty of the world’s largest cave

Spectacular video of Vietnam’s Hang Son Doong cave, which is also the subject of some controversy concerning a construction project (Stop the Construction: Save the Son Doong Cave!).

UAV082 Reaction to the FAA’s NPRM for Commercial sUAS

NBC Exclusive Drone Footage Captures Frozen Niagara Falls

Companies, the press, and other interested parties have looked at the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for small UAS, and the response has been positive, but there is work to be done.

For documents related to the sUAS NPRM, visit regulations.gov and search for Docket FAA-2015-0150. At press time, the Recently Published Rulemaking Documents page still shows the NPRM as pending publication in the Federal Register, but a PDF of the NPRM is available.

News

FAA’s liberal proposed rules win allies in drone business

Jon Resnick, Policy and Marketing Representative in Washington for DJI says, “We are very pleased the FAA is taking a reasonable and practical approach to integrating commercial UAS into the National Air Space. We are very encouraged and stand ready to collaborate with the FAA to implement common-sense proposals as quickly as possible.”

Mark Dombroff, from law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge says, “My concern is that there will be people entering the UAS business who are attracted by the potential economics. This really requires aggressive monitoring and enforcement by the FAA to insure that the rules are observed.”

With new rules, the FAA and drone industry make up

“Drone advocates let out a collective sigh of relief as new commercial drone regulations are more industry-friendly than expected.”

Fortune says, the “FAA … is far more in tune with industry needs than many imagined.”

They call it “a promising sign.”

Matthew Bieschke, president of the UAS America Fund says, “I think the FAA has had a tremendously difficult job to do, and I think what they came out with over the weekend was surprising. It was less conservative than a lot of people in the industry thought it would be.”

Lisa Ellman, counsel and co-chair of the UAS Practice Group at the D.C. office of McKenna Long & Aldridge says, “People feared that the new process would look like the Section 333 exemption process up to and including the private pilot’s license requirement … so this is a huge, wonderful thing, this new UAS operator’s certificate. It will be relatively easy to get and will make drones broadly accessible.”

Brendan Schulman, head of the unmanned aircraft systems practice at New York City-based law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, says there are aspects of the Notice that the FAA got wrong: Limitations on academic research, night flying, and the height limitation.

Regarding drone-based delivery, Schulman says in an email to Fortune, “The proposal considers drone delivery to be air carriage subject to heightened regulatory standards outside the UAS proposal. That’s a legal distinction that made sense in the manned aircraft era but I am not sure why they are holding on to it. It strikes me as a real blow to Amazon and other companies that have been working on drone delivery projects.”

Amazon drone plans shot down by authorities

In the proposed regulations, operators of commercial sUAS must fly under “unaided” line of sight and not over people. This makes package delivery impossible. Amazon vice-president of global public policy Paul Misener told CNBC by email, “The FAA needs to begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business, and ultimately our customers. We are committed to realizing our vision for Prime Air and are prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need.”

Small UAV Coalition Applauds the FAA’S Release of the Proposed sUAS Rule as a Good First Step for Industry

In its press release, the Small UAV Coalition says, “We applaud the FAA for creating a flexible framework that appears to be risk-based, as we have advocated, and focused on the technological capabilities of UAVs, rather than simply adapting a set of rules from those currently governing manned aircraft.” And, “In particular, we support the FAA’s proposal not to require an airworthiness certificate for small UAVs, and to eliminate any requirement for a pilot to obtain manned aircraft flying experience or a medical exam.”

But the Coalition does have some issues with the proposal concerning line of sight, testing on private property, night flying, the altitude limit, and first person view.

President Obama Calls for Transparency in UAS Privacy Memo

President Barack Obama released a Presidential Memorandum to the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies: Promoting Economic Competitiveness While Safeguarding Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Video of the Week

NBC Exclusive Drone Footage Captures Frozen Niagara Falls

Capturing the beauty of the frozen falls.

UAV059 Sense and Avoid

NASA Predator B Unmanned Science and Research Aircraft SystemSense and Avoid by NASA and General Atomics, South African rules by 2015, Amazon’s drone page, package delivery by Flirtey and Google, and cease and desist letters from the FAA.

Guest

Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., (USMC-Ret.), the NASA Administrator since July, 2009.

In this clip from a longer interview recorded for the Airplane Geeks podcast, Charlie talks about NASA’s activity to develop autonomous flight technologies with the UAS test sites, focusing on sense and avoid. NASA is looking at low altitude sUAS air traffic control, and they are finalizing an agreement with Google on sense and avoid technology for package delivery systems. NASA wants to help the FAA get out ahead of the developing market.

News

General Atomics Readies for ‘Detect and Avoid’ Demo

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is developing aircraft detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems for unmanned aircraft. First, they’ll conduct software regression and hardware functional testing on their Predator B at the company’s flight operations facility in Palmdale, California.

Then, they’ll move the system to the NASA Predator B Unmanned Science and Research Aircraft System named “Ikhana,” a Native American Choctaw word meaning intelligent, conscious, or aware. Five weeks of collision avoidance trials will be performed where the Predator will be flown against “intruder” aircraft.

CAA on track to introduce UAV regulations by March 2015

The South African Civil Aviation Authority says it will finalize UAV regulations by March, 2015.

The CAA says until then, UAV operation in civil airspace is illegal and operators could be subject to a fine or up to ten years in prison, or both. Flying on private land or in restricted airspace is also illegal.

However, the director and chairman of the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of South Africa (CUAASA) says you cannot be fined by the CAA because there are no laws in place.

Guess Which Giant Retailer Has Officially Opened Up a “Drone Store”

Amazon.com has officially opened a “Drone Store” featuring the DJI Phantom and the Parrot Drone. Coming soon is the TechJect Dragonfly, a “Wi-Fi enabled robotic insect.”

Mike Fortin, the CEO of CineDrones thinks selling hobby-grade equipment without emphasizing education or safety is irresponsible. But Amazon’s Drone Store web page has a “Fly Responsibly” link that takes you to more “links for informational purposes only:”

Drone Startup Flirtey Partners with The University of Nevada, Reno To Push UAV Delivery Forward

In October 2013, Flirtey started drone delivery tests in Australia. They now have more than a hundred successful test deliveries of textbooks, with its partner Zookal, a company that sells textbooks online.

Now Flirtey has teamed up with UAS research center University of Nevada, Reno. The University gets equity in the company, and Flirtey gets collaboration with the University’s R&D labs for design, manufacture, and research. Flirtey also gets access to the University’s graduate students and indoor flight-testing facilities.

Flirtey is going commercial in New Zealand, which is launching Airshare as a UAV hub where commercial operators can log flight information.

2 Arrested for Flying Drones Near Brooklyn Bridge, US Open: NYPD

The first individual arrested was allegedly flying over the Brooklyn Bridge. He was reported to police by transit workers. The man was visiting from Russia.

The second arrest was for an overflight of the National Tennis Center, hosting the U.S. Open.  The operator, a filmmaker, reportedly stated that he thought he was flying in an “appropriate park space.” The National Tennis Center is a private facility adjacent to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which is a public space.

Undeclared drone batteries sparked plane fire at Melbourne airport

We’ve seen stories about how certain kinds of Lithium-Ion batteries get hot and cause fires on airplanes. Here, a passenger’s hard plastic case in the hold contained Lithium-ion polymer batteries intended to power a remote control drone. Just prior to takeoff, the captain of the Fiji Airways plane detected the smoke from the cargo hold and called a mayday.

FAA Scans the Internet For Drone Users; Sends Cease and Desist Letters

In January, Governmentattic.org made a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA for “copies of any letters, e-mails, or other written or electronic communications requesting or demanding individuals and organizations cease and desist, stop operating, or stop advertising unmanned aerial vehicles.”

The FAA responded with records of 17 “warning letters and e-mails [PDF] sent out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional offices to individuals…” Most of the cease and desist letters went to aerial video companies, but two universities were asked to stop operations associated with drone journalism studies.

The FAA communications list 3 ways under which UAVs can be operated:

  1. Certificate of Authorization (COA)
  2. Experimental Certification
  3. Recreational hobbyists

None allow commercial operation for aerial photography for hire.

Video of the Week

Gawk at Richard Branson’s tropical hideaway via aerial drone

You can’t afford to vacation at this private island, but Sir Richard is pleased to present this aerial tour.

Feedback

Paul Braun of TATTS writes to tell us that, “the Taking Autism To The Sky project (TATTS) was notified by Timothy Reuter of the Washington DC Drone User Group the other day that we are a finalist for the Social Drone Innovation Award.” Watch their Drone Social Innovation Award Submittal video and give them a “like.”

UAV056 When is an Aircraft not an Aircraft?

19XRW-Hoverwing

The FAA definition of an aircraft, drones and agriculture, UAV privacy issues, FAA solicits a UAS Center of Excellence, Amazon Prime Air, X-47B milestone, drone legislation, and a successful UAV company despite regulatory uncertainty.

News

FAA Thinks Two Pound Drones Aircraft. But 1100 Pound, Manned and Flying Craft?  Unsure.

The FAA’s June interpretive rule treats model airplanes as aircraft. But what about other devices that fly – like the Flying Hovercraft that Hammacher Schlemmer sells for $190,000? Are those aircraft too?

With integrated wings and a 130-hp gasoline engine driving a 60″ wood/carbon composite thrust propeller, this hovercraft manufactured by Universal Hovercraft as the 19XRW-Hoverwing, can fly up to 70 mph over obstacles up to 20 feet high.

When asked about the status of wing in ground effect machines, the FAA replied that they haven’t made any determination because they have not received any applications for certification.

Commercial drone dealers take farming to new heights

Tellus Agronomics AgriEye drone

Tellus Agronomics AgriEye drone

The University of Maryland Extension and Wye Research Center understands that technology plays key role in the future of precision agriculture. So they brought together local farmers, agricultural educators, and representatives from farming technology tool companies. Perhaps not surprisingly, UAVs were a prominent part of the event.

Virginia-based consulting company Tellus Agronomics demonstrated their AgriEye Drone, a quadcopter for agronomists that features autonomous flight, live video feed, aerial mapping simulator, and RC simulator pre-flight training.

Helicopter Ag Pilot Harassed by UAV in Illinois

The National Agricultural Aviation Association reports that an ag helicopter was buzzed by a fixed wing “UAV” that caused the pilot some distress. The pilot notified the FAA FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) who called local police, and they are seeking to prosecute the owner of the “UAV.” Only it was not a UAV, it was an Extra 300 aerobatic R/C plane.

President Barack Obama to issue executive order on drone privacy

Last month, President Barack Obama announced that he would be signing an executive order placing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in charge of developing voluntary privacy best practices for unmanned aerial vehicles. We haven’t seen an executive order on this yet.

FAA Solicits Center of Excellence for UAS Applicants

The Federal Aviation Administration released a solicitation for a new FAA Center of Excellence (COE) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. This COE was mandated by Congress under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. This “COE will be tasked with identifying current and future issues critical to safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace.”

The COE will study: detect-and-avoid technology, control and communications, low-altitude operations safety, compatibility with air traffic control operations, and training and certification of UAS pilots and other crew members. The deadline for submission of proposals is September 15th.

Amazon Will Test Drone Delivery System in India

Amazon is reported to begin testing of Amazon Prime Air in Mumbai and Bangalore, India, possibly as soon as late this year. Why India? Because commercial drone use in India does not need a permit from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Video: The Navy’s X-47B drone reaches a new milestone

Testing of the U.S. Navy X-47B continues, and recently it was launched from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, as was an F/A-18E Super Hornet. Carrier-based unmanned and manned aircraft had not previously flown together. The end game for the Navy is the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike aircraft (UCLASS).

Drone manufacturer grows amid uncertain market

DSLRPros in Oakland Park, California manufactures and sells drones and equipment for professional unmanned aerial filmmaking. The company started in 2012, and annual revenue is now $10 million, mostly from fire departments and farmers.

YouTube video shows drone buzzing Vancouver apartment

An apartment building resident observed some kind of drone flying outside the building for an estimated 30 minutes moving from apartment to apartment. It then hovered just feet from his window. The Vancouver Police Department says they received 10 complaints about drones since May. So far, nobody has been charged.

Legislature mulls curbs on use of aerial drones by paparazzi

Paparazzi routinely harass celebrities and invade their privacy. Camera-equipped drones are the perfect high-tech tool for extending the reach of the paparazzi. The Paparazzi Reform Initiative is trying to do something about this situation and there is a proposal pending in the California Legislature that “would prohibit the use of aerial drones to collect video, photos and audio from celebrities and others in a way that violates their privacy rights.”

Video of the Week

Satsop Nuclear Reactor

Braden Roseborough captured stunning video of this never finished, abandoned nuclear reactor. It got a small feature on mashable.com: A Haunting Drone’s Eye View of an Abandoned Nuclear Plant

Mentioned

ADS-B/In for UAV Pilots for $3? Low Power Low Altitude ADS-B/Out?

Tim Trott explains what we need to do to bring ADS-B to sUAS.

Dr. Missy Cummings on Tech and Privacy

Mark sent in this C-Span video with some of Dr. Cummings testimony before the U.S. Congress from January 2014. She weighs in on technological illiteracy in the US, particularly in the government, and how it will be very important for our future to confront this issue.

 

UAV051 Martha Stewart on Drones

Gobble HawkMartha Stewart’s farm via DJI Phantom, UAS competitions, Amazon.com petitions the FAA, and a utility company to start drone testing.

News:

Amazing Aerial Photos Of My Farm

One of Martha Stewart’s security employees took a tour of Martha’s farm with his new DJI Phantom. On her blog, she posted photos taken by the quadcopter, much to the delight of her fans. Is that commercial use by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Martha’s company?

Shaken or stirred? Drone bartender battles bots in design challenge

The Electrolux Design Lab is a design competition where students submit innovative ideas for households of the future. Among the 35 finalists this year, we see one that carries either hot or cold beverages to thirsty bar patrons, and dispenses the drinks into cups. Control is intended to be by voice or mobile app.

‘Gobble Hawk’ Wins NASA High-Altitude UAV Design Competition

There was another recent contest for students, this one specifically for UAVs that track hurricanes. NASA was looking for a lower cost high endurance UAS, and they chose the twin-fuselage Gobble Hawk design concept from Virginia Tech.

The second place OQ451-5 Trident from Purdue would be powered by hydrogen engines, with an endurance of 7 days. Third place was the University of Virginia Big WAHOO (Worldwide Autonomous Hurricane and Oceanic Observer), also hydrogen-powered..

Amazon asks the FAA for permission to play with its drones outside

Amazon.com has been operating its package delivery drones in an indoor test facility in Seattle. On July 9, they sent a Petition for Exemption to the FAA asking to move outside.

Amazon is serious about package delivery by drone. In part, their petition says:

Amazon Prime Air, a new delivery system that will get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using aerial vehicles, is one invention we are incredibly passionate about.  We believe customers will love it, and we are committed to making Prime Air available to customers worldwide as soon as we are permitted to do so.

We also see that Amazon has made significant progress:

In the past five months, we have made advancements toward the development of highly-automated aerial vehicles for Prime Air, including:

  • Testing a range of capabilities for our eighth- and ninth-generation aerial vehicles, including agility, flight duration, redundancy, and sense-and-avoid sensors and algorithms;
  • Developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles per hour, and will carry 5-pound payloads, which cover 86% of products sold on Amazon; and
  • Attracting a growing team of world-renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut.

Finally, Amazon summarizes:

One day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today, resulting in enormous benefits for consumers across the nation.  We respectfully submit this petition for exemption so that Prime Air can be ready to launch commercial operations as soon as eventually permitted by subsequent FAA action.

Eagle shot wins drone photography competition

A competition for drone photographs recently concluded and the winning photo is a birdseye view of an eagle in flight over Bali Barat National Park in Indonesia. You can see the contest winners at Dronestagram, a website dedicated to aerial photographs. Sponsorship was provided by National Geographic, Go Pro, Picanova, Droneshop and Parrot.

SDG&E Is First (Utility) in Unmanned Flight With Drone Testing

The San Diego Gas & Electric Co. says the FAA has given them permission to conduct test flights of a small camera-equipped quadcopter. Ultimately, the utility wants to use the UAVs for infrastructure inspection. Test flights are limited to rural areas away from houses.

MultiRotorForums Petitions White House to Adopt UK Drone Policy

DroneLive.com reports that MultiRotorForums.com created a petition on WhiteHouse.gov asking that the Obama Administration compel the FAA to adopt the UK’s commercial sUAS standards immediately. 100,000 signatures are needed by August 3, 2014.

 Lifeguard drone to the rescue!

In this concept from RTS, multicopters are fitted with life preservers, a FLIR camera, and the ability to detect swimmers in distress. They fly to the person and drop a life preserver faster than a human lifeguard could arrive.

Video of the Week

Flying Down Low Around Las Vegas Back Alleys with my RC UAV Drone for Aerial Photography

Mentioned

Drone Operators Arrested After Close Call with NYPD Helicopter

Two men were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment after flying a drone within 800 feet of a police helicopter at 2,000 feet near the George Washington Bridge.

Stronger privacy laws needed to protect public from drones, parliamentary committee says

An Australian federal government committee is recommending stronger privacy laws, particularly related to drones. Their report is called Eyes in the Sky: Inquiry into drones and the regulation of air safety & privacy. [PDF]

Eye in the sky keeps close watch on livestock
Kiwi ranchers use a hexacopter and GoPro.

Recommended Books

Amazon.com links to two good books for those just getting started:

The Beginner’s Guide to FPV

Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones: Learn about, buy and fly these amazing aerial vehicles

 

UAV017 UAS for Good, Bad, and the Improbable

RP Flight Systems Spectra

This Episode:

Using a drone to smuggle contraband into a prison, learn to fly unmanned vehicles at a University, UAV privacy laws carve out drones as a special case, drones are blocked even for humanitarian purposes, the Amazon.com vision for UAS, and how to hack a drone.

The News:

Drones used to try to smuggle contraband into jail

Prison guards, probably among the most perceptive people, noticed a hexacopter over Calhoun State Prison in Georgia. Four people were arrested after the drone was found in a car with some tobacco and mobile phones – desirable items for the incarcerated.

So you want to FLY Drones

After becoming interested in this field, the author joined a Drone Pilot Training Certificate program at the Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU), which was founded in 2012. The three-phase Certificate has students complete an online “ground school” from home, then computer flight training simulation, and finally actual flight school.

Flightless Drones

We think about privacy concerns associated with Unmanned Aerial Systems, but what makes drones so different? Shouldn’t we be looking at privacy from a general surveillance perspective, regardless of the technology? What about other robotic or autonomous devices that can snoop on you?

Civilian Drones Movie

This documentary presents compelling examples of actual search and rescue operations (SAR) where drones played a critical role. These are real people with lost loved ones. The non-profit search team of volunteers has been declared by the FAA to be in an official capacity, not essential, and therefore forbidden.

The Texas Equusearch SAR team featured in the documentary uses a variety of resources (divers, searchers on horseback, etc.) and has conducted 1300 searches across the U.S. They found the RP Flight Systems Spectra to be invaluable in locating missing persons.

Two producers of the documentary were interviewed on Episode 280 of the All Things That Fly podcast, about 14 minutes in. Their mission is “Spreading the word about the humanitarian use of civilian drones” and you can find them on Twitter as @CivilianDrones.

Amazon’s Hopes For Drone Deliveries

Amazon Spoof

Amazon Spoof

Amazon.com has produced a concept video showing an octocopter load a package and deliver it to the front walk of the purchasing family’s home. While limited to 5-pound packages, Amazon says that covers 86% of the packages shipped. They say such a service could be deployed within five years.

 

 

Flying hacker contraption hunts other drones, turns them into zombies

Well known hacker Samy Kamkar has released the specifications needed to turn a Parrot AR Drone into “SkyJack,” which can hijack nearby Parrot drones.

Max’s Quadcopter:

Max now has a Blade Nano QX quad-copter that he’s learning to fly, although not very successfully so far. The “buy small and don’t spend a lot of money” strategy for the first multi-copter is proving to be a good one since Max crashes the thing a lot.