Tag Archives: AUVSI

UAV115 FAA Misses UAS Integration Date

Firefighting drone by FliteTest

Industry reacts to FAA missing the UAS integration deadline, lasers on drones, UAS testing at Wallops Island, a million drones for the holidays, and interviews from UAS Industry Days 2015.

News

Drones Armed With High-Energy Lasers May Arrive In 2017

Predator and Reaper manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is looking at mounting a 150-kilowatt solid-state laser onto its Avenger drone, also known as the Predator-C. This could be ready in 2017.

NASA Wallops looks to bump up drone traffic

NASA and the state of Virginia are working together on a plan to build a 3,000 foot runway for drones on Wallops Island. This UAS test range is envisioned to support commercial, government, and academic users.

FAA Fears That 1 Million Drones Could Be Sold This Holiday Season

According to Aviation Week, the FAA’s Rich Swayze says the Agency expects as many as one million UAVs to be sold during this year’s holiday season. That’s a lot of opportunity for misuse of unmanned aircraft.

AUVSI and 28 Organizations Mark Missed FAA Deadline for UAS Integration

The congressionally mandated deadline for the FAA to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System was Sept. 30, 2015. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and 28 others sent a letter [PDF] to the FAA, stating in part:

“While the FAA has hit some milestones in the integration process, it has yet to finalize small UAS rules, let alone facilitate the full integration of UAS that Congress contemplated in 2012. The increasing number of businesses applying for Section 333 exemptions demonstrates the pent-up demand for commercial UAS operations and the immediate need for a regulatory framework.”

“In the absence of regulations, American businesses and innovators are left sitting on the sidelines or operating under a restrictive exemption process.”

“On behalf of businesses across a wide range of industry sectors in the United States, we urge the FAA to use all available means to finalize the small UAS rules immediately without any further delays and move ahead with the next regulatory steps on the path for integrating all UAS into the NAS. Once this happens, we will have an established framework for UAS operations that will do away with the case-by-case system of approvals, reducing the barriers to commercial UAS operations. And importantly, having more trained commercial operators will create a culture of safety that helps deter careless and reckless behavior.”

Interviews from UAS Industry Days

We recorded a number of interviews at the NUAIR Alliance UAS Test Site, including these two about testing done at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York:

Thomas Washington

Manager of Flight Test Operations, Aurora Flight Sciences. The Centaur (DA 42) optionally piloted aircraft was tested previously at Griffiss for their unmanned flight test campaign.

John Reade

A computer scientist at Quanterion working with AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory) and two Desert Hawk III UAVs from Lockheed Martin doing collision avoidance testing in the “triangle” at Griffiss. Quanterion has also developed simulation software that evaluates the interactions of manned and unmanned aircraft in shared airspace.

Videos of the Week

Fire Fighting Drone | Flite Test

The Firecopter is a custom-made Y-6 multi-rotor equipped with a fire extinguisher for fighting fires from the air. From Flite Test.

Esperance whale encounter captures hearts across Australia

Beautiful footage of amazing marine mammals, but before you try this, review Approaching whales and dolphins in NSW and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Marine Mammals) Regulation 2006.

Approaching whales and dolphins in NSW

UAV114 UAS Industry Days 2015

Industry Days 2015A first report on UAS Industry Days 2015 with the keynote by Lisa Ellman and an interview with Lawrence Brinker.

NUAIR Alliance and Empire State Chapter of AUVSI Second Annual UAS Industry Days: Collaboration for Innovation

Held September 22-23, 2015 at the NUAIR Alliance Hangar and at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino Events Center in New York, this conference offered speakers, exhibits, flight demonstrations, and networking opportunities.

David, Max, @dronemama, and @ProfVanderhoof attended the event, conducted a number of interviews, and recorded the presentations. This episode we bring you the conference keynote presentation and also a concluding interview with the director of the NUAIR Alliance. We’ll have more interviews and presentations in the coming weeks.

Presentation

Keynote, Lisa Ellman, partner and co-chair of Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems Practice Group, Hogan Lovells.

Interview

Lawrence Brinker, Executive Director and General Counsel, NUAIR Alliance.

Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance

The NUAIR Alliance is a New York based not-for-profit coalition of more than 70 private and public entities and academic institutions working together to operate and oversee UAS test ranges in New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan. Headquartered at Griffiss International Airport, in Rome, New York, NUAIR manages one of just six UAS test sites in the United States leading the research and deployment technologies that establish the case for safe UAS operations in the nation’s commercial airspace.

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International

AUVSI is the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community. Serving more than 7,500 members from government organizations, industry, and academia, AUVSI is committed to fostering, developing, and promoting unmanned systems and robotic technologies. AUVSI members support defense, civil, and commercial sectors.

Presentation and Interview Recordings

For audio recordings of some of the conference presentations, as well as the interviews we conducted with speakers, attendees, and exhibitors, see:

http://theuavdigest.com/uas-industry-days-2015/

Appreciation

We’d like to take the opportunity to reiterate our thanks to the sponsors of The UAV Digest: GoEngineer and UAV Propulsion Tech. Their support enables us to attend events such as this in order to bring great content to our audience.

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.

 

UAV093 AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference

The WATT tethered drone

News from the 2015 AUVSI Conference, including the Pathfinder Program where the FAA partners with industry to develop commercial UAS technology.

AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) held its Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference May 4-7 in Atlanta, Georgia.

At the Conference, the FAA announced the “Pathfinder Program” which it called “a partnership with industry to explore the next steps in unmanned aircraft operations beyond the type of operations the agency proposed in the draft small unmanned aircraft systems rule it published in February.”

Speech – “UAS Pathfinder Program Announcement Press Conference”

Press Release – FAA-Industry Initiative Will Expand Small UAS Horizons

In his speech, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, “We’re partnering with three leading U.S. companies who have committed extensive resources to perform research that will help us determine if and how we can safely expand unmanned aircraft operations in the United States. These companies reached out to the FAA to work with us on exploring three key types of unmanned operations.”

The industry partners and three focus areas are:

  • Visual line-of-sight operations in urban areas. CNN will look at how UAS might be safely used for newsgathering in populated areas.
  • Extended visual line-of-sight operations in rural areas. This concept involves UAS flights outside the pilot’s direct vision. UAS manufacturer PrecisionHawk will explore how this might allow greater UAS use for crop monitoring in precision agriculture operations.
  • Beyond visual line-of-sight in rural/isolated areas. BNSF Railway will explore command-and-control challenges of using UAS to inspect rail system infrastructure.

Huerta said, “We anticipate receiving valuable data from each of these trials that could result in FAA-approved operations in the next few years. They will also give insight into how unmanned aircraft can be used to transform the way certain industries do business – whether that means making sure trains run on time, checking on the health of crops, or reporting on a natural disaster.”

On the NPRM, Huerta commented on the number of public comments received, noting that it will take time to address them and finalize the rule. The Pathfinder Program is designed to expand expand the use of unmanned aircraft in the meantime.

PrecisionHawk to work with FAA on UAV extended line-of-sight safety

PrecisionHawk will formulate a framework for fixed wing and multirotor UAVs for missions in agriculture, forestry, and other rural industries. PrecisionHawk will also test its LATAS (Low Altitude Tracking & Avoidance System) traffic management system.

AUVSI: New tethered UAV for CNN

CNN announced that it will become the launch customer for the Drone Aviation Corp WATT UAV.  This tethered drone that can take power from the tether and simultaneously transmit data back to the ground. The electric quadrotor is activated with a mobile tablet and can hover at up to 300 feet for 8 hours.

Tim Trott Interview with Jay Willmott

At the AUVSI Conference, Tim Trott from Southern Helicam caught up with Jay Willmott, Founder and President of unmanned technology consultancy Nexutech.

Vortex UAS

A conversation with Vince Donahue, the Founder and President of Vortex UAS. Vortex provides tailored solutions for businesses utilizing UAS, including pilot training, consulting, and other services. This is a condensed version of the full interview originally published in Episode 347 of the Airplane Geeks podcast.

Videos of the Week

Surf the world’s most extraordinary waves with drone videos

Shot by photographer Eric Sterman with a GoPro on a Phantom 2 during two days at the “Jaws” surf break on the North shore of Maui.

Good Morning, San Diego!

The scenes in this video were captured around sunrise over a period of four months. Shot using a GoPro HERO3 Black Edition camera mounted on a DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-3D 3-axis gimbal.

UAV077 UAS Pilot Training

Sky-Futures

UAV training in Canada and Britain, a government hearing on UAS research and development, no date from FAA on the sUAS NPRM, a UAS communications study, and drugs on a drone.

News

1st Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) instruction designed specifically to meet Transport Canada’s new requirements

Aerobotika Aerial Intelligence and Pacific Rim Aviation Academy have partnered to offer a UAV pilot training academy. The 2-day ground school course will cover the new Transport Canada Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems for UAVs under 25 kg, operating within visual line of sight.

The curriculum includes standard pilot training, technical specifics of unmanned aircraft, industry practices and regulations, UAV rules and avoiding dangerous situations. Successful students will have met the special flight operations certificate (SFOC) knowledge requirements and receive a Letter of Completion that can be submitted to Transport Canada.

Aerobotika is an aerial systems development and operations company. Pacific Rim Aviation Academy operates out of Pitt Meadows Airport (CYPK) near Vancouver, Canada.

How should licensing work for commercial drone operators? A look at Britain’s solution

In Britain, the Civil Aviation Authority has approved three companies to provide UAV training: Sky-Futures, ResourceGroup, and EuroUSC. After receiving training, the pilot must provide a manual to the CAA describing how the UAV will be used and show they have liability insurance.

Sky-Futures provides trainees with a ground school manual to study at home for a month. After that, trainees have two days of ground school and three weeks of flight training in Spain.

The ResourceGroup training starts with an online learning program, followed by two days in the classroom, one day outside flying, then a one-day exam.

Committee Examines Status of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Regulations, and Research

The U.S. Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research and Development hearing in January.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) opened the hearing to examine research and development of UAS and “provide an overview of how UAS research, development and flight tests enable the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.” Witnesses included representatives from NASA, FAA, the National Research Council, AUVSI, the Small UAV Coalition, and MIT.

Brian Wynne, President and CEO, AUVSI said, “for every day that UAS integration is delayed, the U.S. stands to lose $27.6 million in potential economic impact, according to AUVSI’s economic impact study.”

James H. Williams, the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office Manager, talked about the important role of interagency partnerships with DOD, NASA, etc. Williams noted work with NASA on, “air traffic control interoperability with the future UAS use of detect and avoid systems in controlled airspace,” and with both NASA and DOD on, “the appropriate minimum operational performance standards for UAS detect and avoid systems for UAS to remain clear of other aircraft.”

FAA Official Refuses To Give Date For UAV Rule

At the hearing, the big question was, when will the FAA issue its proposed sUAS rules? Chairman Lamar Smith asked James Williams from the FAA that question repeatedly. Williams had answers, but not the one Smith was looking for:

Smith: “Mr. Williams, when might we expect the FAA to propose some rules?”

Williams: The FAA is “doing everything we can to get that small unmanned aircraft rule out, but our main focus is to get it right.”

Smith: “When do you think you might get that [rule] out?”

Williams: “I at this point can’t give you a firm deadline.”

Smith: “Do you have a goal in mind? I mean, you’ve got a lot of people across the United States waiting. Do you have any kind of a working deadline or a working goal?”

Williams: “Our goals are to get it out as quickly as we can, as long as we get it out right.”

Smith: Is a rule is likely to come “this year or next year?”

Williams: “I can’t speculate. My own personal hope is we get it out as soon as possible, but it’s got to go through the regulatory process that has been put in place by Congress and we’re working our way through that.”

Williams added, “You’ve got to understand this is a very complex rulemaking.”

Smith: “Never mind. I can tell that I’m not going to get the answer that I was hoping for. But we’ll take your word for expediting the process….”

New unmanned aircraft research project proposed by UND to take off

The University of North Dakota plans to test “new radio communications” of unmanned aircraft beyond line of sight. The unmanned aircraft program staff at UND proposed the project, and the University’s research oversight committee approved the proposal.

UND will start with the Northrop Grumman SandShark at the Lakota, N.D., airport. Funding is with $500,000 from the North Dakota Department of Commerce and a matching $500,000 contribution from Rockwell Collins.

Meth-filled drone crashes in Mexican border town

According to Tijuana police, a hexacopter carrying more than 6 pounds of methamphetamine crashed into the parking lot of a supermarket. The DEA has reported that drones were used in about 150 drug flights in 2012 over the Mexico/US border.

Video of the Week

R/C Plane Crashes- Reveals Underwater WORLD

Footage from an RC airplane taken at The Cape Range National Park, in Exmouth Western Australia. After viewing the beautiful scenery, you’ll see the plane crash into the water and the GoPro keeps recording, capturing tropical fish and sea turtles.

UAV074 Did you get a Drone for Christmas?

Know Before You Fly

No sUAS NPRM, “Know Before You Fly” safety campaign, it may be OK to say “drone” now, UAS America Fund proposes rules, drone privacy legislation, ICAO looks at integrating RPAS into the air space, an embarrassing UAS test center first flight, and the MQ-8C Fire Scout takes flight.

News

No Firm Date For UAV Rules As FAA, Industry Launch Safety Campaign

At 2014 year-end, we don’t have an sUAS NPRM from the FAA, but we do have many new quadcopter owners after the holiday gift-giving season.

The Know Before You Fly education campaign was founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

Booming Holiday Drone Sales Creates Unknown Safety Risk

Darrell Slaughter, Director of Business Development at the Phoenix, Arizona based Unmanned Vehicle University says “The drone industry cannot afford any mishaps at any time, especially at this stage in the industry’s life cycle. People must realize that many of the UAVs being given as gifts this year are not toys.  Many are capable of causing serious injury and damage to property. People will get hurt if these potentially dangerous devices are operated in an unsafe manner.”

Drone Defender Drops D-word Denial

Back in the day, you could get chastised for describing a UAV as a “drone.” But the press and the public have co-opted the term, and it may be time to embrace the “D-word.”

Industry Proposes A ‘Micro Drone’ Rule As Regulatory Deadline Looms

UAS America Fund proposal The UAS America Fund has filed a petition with the FAA proposing regulations for very small UAS for non-recreational purposes. This incremental regulatory approach is based on a risk analysis of FAA data, and addresses aircraft under 3 pounds and flown under 400 feet at least 5 miles from an airport.

The graphic from the UAS America Fund shows different regulatory and certification requirements for different categories of UAS missions.

West Virginia Senator proposes UAS Privacy Act

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV from West Virginia has proposed a law that would require the Federal Trade Commission to set up privacy websites for all commercial UAV operators where privacy policies are posted, including:

  • Information about the circumstances under which the UAS would be operated
  • The specific purposes for the images
  • Data and other identifying information that would be collected
  • Measures to be taken to anonymize and aggregate the information
  • Contact information

Private companies would be prohibited from conducting surveillance on individuals without their explicit prior consent.

ICAO Conducts UAS Fact-Finding Mission

At the invitation of the FAA, representatives from ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) visited the U.S. on a fact-finding mission. They wanted to look at how the U.S. is integrating manned aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). ICAO has a technical body called the RPAS Panel made up of almost 100 international state and industry experts.

1st Nevada drone crashes seconds into FAA test flight

The hand-launched “Magpie” was to be the first UAV officially flown from the Nevada test site, and the press were there to capture the event. The Governor even made a speech. The moment came, Magpie was tossed into the air, and then immediately fell to the ground. The problem was attributed to an electrical controller issue.

U.S. Navy helicopter drone’s first flight

The U.S. Navy successfully flew the MQ-8C Fire Scout system for the first time off the USS Jason Dunham. This was from a moving ship at sea.

Video of the Week

Team BlackSheep XMas Special

Published on Dec 23, 2012, this video was taken by Team Black Sheep from a flight near Paris while attending LeWeb 2012. Is this a safe flight?

Mentioned

Surge in drones as Christmas gifts will show need for greater regulation: peak body

 

UAV065 UAS Regulatory and Legal Developments

NBAA 2014 Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Regulatory and Legal DevelopmentsWe review the Unmanned Aircraft Systems:  Regulatory and Legal Developments panel discussion at the NBAA 2014 conference.

NBAA2014 – BUSINESS AVIATION CONVENTION & EXHIBITION

At the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Florida on October 21, 2014, a panel discussion was held titled, “Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Regulatory and Legal Developments.”

The Panel was moderated by Marc Warren of Crowell & Moring LLP. Panel members were: Dean Griffith, FAA; Mario Mairena, AUVSI; Dave Hamrick, MITRE Corporation; and Ted Wierzbanowiski, ASTM standards for sUAS.

In this episode, we bring you selected clips from the first half of the panel discussion.

Topics include:

  • Some early history of FAA and ASTM activity.
  • The process for providing the FAA with sUAS recommendations.
  • The NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) for sUAS that the FAA intends to issue by the end of 2014.
  • RF spectrum allocation
  • The FAA view of sUAS as aircraft and the plan they have.
  • Challenges faced by the FAA to meet the Congressional mandates.
  • Next steps the FAA intends to take.
  • The COAs issued by the FAA.
  • Recreational (hobbyist) vs. commercial use.
  • How UAS technology might flow down to manned aviation, particularly General Aviation.

Other topics discussed by the panel that we’ll cover in the future::

  • If sUAS flyers should have a pilot’s license.
  • Educating UAS pilots.
  • Exemptions under Section 333 as a bridging authority.
  • Social risks with UAS, like privacy.
  • States and local governments enacting anti-UAS laws.
  • Is US competitiveness suffering?
  • What does the future of UAS (of all sizes) look like?
  • Are unmanned commercial passenger or cargo flights in the future?
  • Where did the 55 pound line come from?

Credit

We are grateful to Carl Valeri who attended the Convention and recorded the panel discussion for us. Find Carl at the Aviation Careers podcast and the Stuck Mic AvCast.

 

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.”

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.

UAV042 It used to be UFOs, now it’s UAVs

Nighthawk IV UAS

AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2014 conference and trade show, a drone narrowly misses a commercial flight, and hack-proof UAS software from DARPA.

Guest: Bob Schmidt, President, UAV Propulsion Tech.

AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2014 conference and trade show was held in Orlando, Florida May 12-15, 2014. Bob attended and he offers his perspectives on the event. Follow Bob on Twitter as @Schmidtproducts.

The News:

Drone just missed turbo-prop over Perth military airspace

A De Havilland Dash 8-300 turbo-prop on approach to Perth Airport encountered a strobe light coming towards them. After taking evasive action, the object passed them about 20 m horizontally and 100 ft vertically. Was it a UAV at 3,800 feet?

Airplane Near-Misses: How Often Do They Happen?

Actually, quite often, according to the FAA.

DARPA unveils hack-proof drone

The Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) has a project to develop hack-proof software for aircraft navigation and control. In the High Assurance Cyber Military Systems project (HACMS), cyber experts were unable to hack into a prototype quadcopter running the software.

Videos of the Week:

David’s pick: Superyacht mast pulled, filmed by a Drone. This is Superyachting. Big boat, big mast, impressive aerial views.

Max’s pick: Basic Quadcopter Tutorial – Chapter 1. This 9-part video tutorial shows how to build a quadcopter from components. Produced by Hoverfly, who develop multi-rotor aerial systems, including a tethered quadcopter.

Listener Feedback:

Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2015 [PDF] Will more money help the FAA develop UAS regulations sooner? From Bill.

How to shoot amazing video from drones. A compilation of videos shot by UAV’s. From Kevin.

Northrop Grumman to collaborate with RMIT University on UAS. Northrop Grumman and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University plan to study airworthiness operating requirements for UAS in Australia, Focusing on larger aircraft.

Micro-Aircraft Declared Safe to Fly in U.S. Skies. Applied Research Associates, Inc. produces the Nighthawk IV UAS, launched by hand or tube with GPS and a built-in autopilot. It weighs 1.6 pounds, has a 60 minute flight time, and a range of over 10km. From Jesse. (Photo above.)