Tag Archives: DJI

UAV202 Piaggio HammerHead Testing Resumes

A year after the crash of the prototype, testing of the Piaggio HammerHead UAS is underway again. We also look at drones and field biology, security, and swarming technology.

The Piaggio Aerospace P.1HH HammerHead

The P.1HH HammerHead UAS, courtesy Piaggio Aerospace.

UAV News

Piaggio Aerospace Resumes Test Flights of Hammerhead UAV

In May 2016, the prototype Piaggio Aerospace P.1HH HammerHead UAV crashed off the coast of Sicily. Reportedly, there were flight control system integration problems. Testing has now resumed and eight systems are to be delivered to the United Arab Emirates. The MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) Hammerhead is derived from the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II business aviation aircraft, a twin turboprop pusher aircraft.

Drones hunt down rare plants in Hawaii by going where people can’t

GIS specialist Ben Nyberg is the lead drone pilot for the National Tropical Botanical Garden. While flying a drone at a 1,000-acre preserve in Hawaii, he discovered a very rare plant on a steep, inaccessible cliff. Less than 25 of these plants were thought to exist. With the drone, they discovered about 10 more of these plants, as well as several other critically endangered plants.

Homeland Security concerned about commercial drones being used for ‘nefarious purposes’

According to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson, “DHS does consider commercial drones configured or modified to employ explosives or weapons a concern. This is due to low-cost, ease of access, and the quick-pace of this evolving technology to adapt beneficial Unmanned System equipment for nefarious purposes.” The US Army has published a 13-page document, Counter – Unmanned Aircraft System Strategy Extract [PDF].

USAF calls for drone defences after F-22 overflight

Drones are being spotted around military aircraft in the U.S. and the Air Combat Command has no authority to deal with them. It’s a civil authority that has to be granted first before it can be executed by military forces.

DJI Is Locking Down Its Drones Against a Growing Army of DIY Hackers

People have found ways to get around DJI’s flight restrictions and they’ve published the exploits online. DJI updated their software to break the hacks, but that just leads to another round in the battle.

Micro Systems Develops New Drone Swarming Technology

Kratos Defense and Security Solutions subsidiary Micro Systems announced its WOLF-PAK swarming technology. There is no centralized control system and the swarm of autonomous vehicles follows a leader vehicle. Vehicles recognize and locate each other and keep a predefined distance apart.

WOLF-PAK demonstration video:

 

 

Walmart commissioning Griffiss for drone delivery research

Walmart has reportedly been working with one of the UAS test sites to develop drone-based package delivery. But now the retailer is additionally engaging the UAS test site in upstate New York.

Mentioned

The DronesGlobal Slack Team is a members-only Slack team “for commercial drone operators, manufacturers, buyers, suppliers and experts from around the world.” There is a one-time fee of $49 and applications are subject to approval.

Your AOPA membership will get you 20% off the Drone World Expo conference or a free Expo pass. To be held October 3-4, 2017, at the San Jose Convention Center in the Capital of Silicon Valley.

Can I fly there? Is a drone safety app from CASA. It reflects the standard operating conditions for those flying their drone commercially (under the excluded category of commercial operations) and is a valuable educational and situational awareness tool for both commercial and recreational drone flyers.

XKCD provides another good drone comic.

FlytBase Inc. is a Silicon Valley startup creating developer tools for intelligent and connected commercial drones. They say their FlytBase Cloud platform helps developers connect drones with cloud-based business applications over a real-time secure link. It provides access to real-time drone control, telemetry and payload data.

FlytBase Cloud: Internet of Drones Platform

 

 

UAV196 The DJI Spark

The DJI Spark, Snap Inc. interest in drones, the ANSI UAS Standardization Collaborative, the Drone Federalism Act of 2017, Florida utility company using drones, the MQ-25A Stingray carrier-launched unmanned tanker, a drone camp for girls, and NATE embraces drones.

The DJI Spark

The Spark mini-drone. Image courtesy DJI.

UAV News

DJI brings gesture control to consumer drones with the diminutive Spark

The $499 DJI Spark mini-drone recognizes your face and launches and lands on the palm of your hand. It can be controlled with hand movements, a remote controller, a mobile device, or DJI goggles. Featuring obstacle detection and image stabilization, the Spark can follow flight maneuvers preset with your mobile device. It can also follow you.

Snap recently acquired Ctrl Me Robotics, an LA-based drone company

Snap Spectacles

Snap Spectacles. Image courtesy Snap, Inc.

Is the company that owns Snapchat getting into the drone business? It’s unclear, but Snap Inc. acquired drone company Ctrl Me Robotics last year and has reportedly looked at another company in that space.

Last September, Snapchat said it was rebranding itself as a camera company and getting into hardware. Snap also manufacturers a wearable camera called Spectacles. These “smartglasses” record video and connect to your Snapchat account.

 

ANSI Establishes Unmanned Aircraft Systems Standardization Collaborative

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards. ANSI has decided to form a “Standardization Collaborative” for UAS. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Standardization Collaborative (UASSC) will create standards and conformity assessment programs for facilitating the safe integration of UAS into the United States national airspace system (NAS). An initial kick-off meeting is planned for the third quarter of 2017. To stay up-to-date regarding future developments, email Jim McCabe, ANSI senior director, standards facilitation, at jmccabe@ansi.org.

Drone Federalism Act Would Bring Regulation to Local Level

The Drone Federalism Act of 2017 has been proposed by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and Tom Cotton, R-Ark. The Act is an attempt to bring UAS regulation down to the local level.

Feinstein says the bill “allows communities to create low-altitude speed limits, local no-drone zones or rules that are appropriate to their own circumstances.”

Blumenthal says, “This legislation protects the rights of state and local governments to implement reasonable restrictions on drones in their communities while ensuring that the Federal Aviation Administration keeps our national airspace the safest in the world.”

So how does it work?

  • Keeps the FAA’s “general authority over the national airspace while preserving the authority of state, local and tribal governments to issue reasonable restrictions on the time, manner and place of drone operations within 200 feet of the ground or a structure.
  • Reaffirms that the federal government “will respect private property rights to the airspace immediately above a property, including the first 200 feet.”
  • Directs the FAA “to partner with a diverse group of cities and states to test out different approaches, inform the unmanned traffic management pilot program and report best practices.”

See Drone Federalism Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1272) by Jonathan Rupprecht for a quick summary of important facts of the Drone Federalism Act of 2017, problems with the Drone Federalism Act of 2017, who supports it, and the actual text of the Drone Federalism Act.

Florida Utility Preps for Drone Use Ahead of Storm Season

With hurricane season coming soon, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is being proactive. They’ve trained more than 1,200 employees and that training includes the use of unmanned aircraft. FPL demonstrated the use of UAS for surveying damage areas and how they can speed up restoration efforts.

Navy to Launch MQ-25 Stingray Refueling Drone Competition This Summer

The MQ-25A Stingray is a carrier-launched tanker designed to extend the combat range of carrier aircraft like the F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35C Joint Strike Fighter. The Navy is starting an industry competition for the Stingray, which it plans to enter carrier deck service in the early to mid-2020s. In advance of the formal proposal to industry this summer, the Navy awarded four development contracts: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, and Northrop Grumman.

Mentioned

UND to host drone camp for girls

The UAS Camp is sponsored by the Women’s Fund from the Grand Forks Community Foundation. Girls ages 8 to 12 will learn about drones, with hands-on experience with small unmanned aircraft. The camp will take place in two sessions at Robin Hall: from July 31 through Aug. 4 and from Aug. 7 through 11, 2017. Registration is $20 and space is limited. For more information, call Amanda Brandt with the UND College of Aerospace at (701) 732-0592.

Video of the Week

NATE UAS Operations Climber Connection Drone Video

The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) “has proactively embraced the utilization of drones in the wireless and broadcast infrastructure industries due to the enormous safety and efficiency benefits associated with their use.” Their new Climber Connection Unmanned Aerial Systems video was distributed industry-wide at the 2017 Drone Focus Conference in Fargo, North Dakota.

 

 

UAV193 Flying Drones Over People

The impact of drones striking people, geo-restrictions in war zones, monitoring volcanic ash, structure inspections using UAVs and artificial intelligence, keeping wildlife away from crops, waste management with drones, swarming tactics, Project Wing update, and drone weaponization for law enforcement.

A UAS crash test dummy in a study of flying drones over people.

A UAS crash test dummy provided data for a UAS ground collision severity study.

UAV News

FAA Issues Study on UAS Human Collision Hazards

In order to create regulations for flying drones over people, the FAA needs to know what happens when a UAV strikes a human. A consortium of universities has been studying this, and their report identifies dominant injury types applicable to small drones. See: FAA and Assure Announce Results of Ground Collision Study.

DJI Mysteriously Turned Vast Swaths of Iraq and Syria Into Drone No-Fly Zones

Without much fanfare, DJI created no-fly zones over large areas of Iraq and Syria. Some speculate this was a move to thwart ISIS from using their drones.

CNN journalist evades DJI GEO restrictions in Iraq

A CNN reporter proved the no-fly zone could be defeated by covering the GPS on his DJI Mavic with tinfoil. Without GPS, the no-fly zones are disabled.

NASA Selects Black Swift Technologies’ sUAS for Volcano Ash Monitoring

NASA has awarded a contract to Black Swift Technologies to develop and deliver a sUAS solution to explore volcanoes. Black Swift will provide an airframe, avionics, and sensors to measure gases, temperature, pressure, humidity, and winds, as well as particle sizes and trace gases. All this for improved air traffic management systems and more accurate measurements of ashfall.

AT&T Labs working to combine drone video footage with artificial intelligence monitoring

AT&T Labs is studying how they can use artificial intelligence (AI) and video footage of cell towers taken by a drone. AT&T wants to eliminate the labor for physical inspections and video analysis.

Drones keep elephants away from people in Tanzania

In Tanzania, elephants sometimes graze on crops and destroy them, presenting a huge problem for the people trying to grow food. The U.S.-based nonprofit Resolve is testing the use of drones to drive the animals away.

Drones-The Latest High Tech Tool For Las Cruces Waste Management

A quadcopter is being used to map a regional landfill and provide volumetrics to the landfill management company. This information about the amount of air space remaining in existing landfill cells is critical for future development plans.

Service Academies Swarm Challenge: Controlling drone swarms

DARPA created the Service Academies Swarm Challenge where U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force academy teams compete and go from “zero to swarm in 8 months.” The research effort is an experiment where students develop offensive and defensive tactics for swarms of small UAVs.

Video: An Overview of DARPA’s Service Academies Swarm Challenge

Alphabet’s Project Wing Cuts Staff Before Progress Update

Reportedly, Google parent Alphabet has significantly cut staff at Project Wing. Yet sources say the program is still alive and a major progress update and demonstration is expected before summer.

Public Safety Committee Grounds Drone Legislation

Legislation proposed in Connecticut would have made that state the first in the U.S. to allow law enforcement to use weaponized drones. However, the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee decided to let the legislation die. This was after drone attorney Peter Sachs wrote an email to all members of the Committee asking them to vote against the proposal.

UAV Video of the Week

Amazing Drone Footage – The USS Alabama From The Air – A Very Impressive Battleship

The USS Alabama (BB-60) is a South Dakota Class Battleship, launched on April 16, 1942. It served during World War II in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This video was shot using a hexacopter with a GoPro at the USS Alabama Memorial Park.

Mentioned

Drones flown in helicopter flight path at Franz Josef heliport ‘a huge risk’ to safety, police warn

 

 

UAV186 AOPA UAS Programs

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Senior Director of UAS Programs explains the organization’s strategies for unmanned aircraft.

Guest

Kathleen “Kat” Swain

Kathleen “Kat” Swain, Senior Director for AOPA UAS Programs.

Kathleen “Kat” Swain is Senior Director for AOPA UAS Programs. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association created the position in 2016, and since then Kat has been working to implement the organization’s strategies for UAS.

Kat was a manned aircraft pilot before she became a remote pilot and has multiple ratings. She is a flight instructor, having instructed both military and civilian pilots. Kat has flown drones for many purposes, including insurance industry support and humanitarian missions.

We discuss the AOPA commitment to unmanned aviation, and how manned and unmanned pilots share the same desire to protect the safety of the airspace. Kat explains the value of AOPA advocacy and the benefits of membership that AOPA offers drone pilots. That includes insurance, legal assistance, pilot protection services, and the new AOPA Drone Pilot biweekly newsletter that covers training and safety, gear, lifestyle, regulation and policy, and drone news.

See:

UAV Video of the Week

Don Toporowski manages the ACE climatic wind tunnel at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The facility tests drones and can simulate the types of precipitation and clouds that UAVs have to deal with at lower speeds and altitudes. ACE actually creates repeatable water droplets, freezing rain, and clouds. This funny video illustrates the limits of a DJI Phantom 4’s ability to fly in high winds.

A Drone’s Worst Nightmare…

 

UAV185 The DJI Matrice 200 Series of Drones

New DJI Matrice 200 drones created for enterprise users, Parrot also sees a future in the commercial market, an RQ-7 Shadow goes on an unexpected cross-country flight, and swarms of drones may someday map oil spills.

DJI Matrice 210

DJI Matrice 200 series drone

UAV News

DJI’s Matrice 200 UAV line is built for work

DJI showed its new Matrice 200 series of quadcopters at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It’s a workhorse designed for commercial and industrial applications and comes in three models: the baseline M200 with one gimbal, the M210 with two downward-facing gimbals or one top-mounted gimbal, and the M210 RTK which adds real-time kinematic sensors for precise navigation.

All models use the DJI flight management system, the DJI Pilot app, subject tracking, autonomous circling, and ActiveTrack. Flighthub lets the pilot stream video to a remote station in real-time, and DJI’s Flightsense algorithm lets the M200 drones autonomously avoid obstacles. Significantly, M200s incorporate ADS-B receivers.

Parrot to pursue profits with commercial drones

After failing to meet revenue targets, Parrot says it will return to profitability by 2018 through an expansion of its commercial drone business. The Parrot CFO says, “Professional drones should generate at least 50 to 60 percent gross margin on the long run, where consumer drones cannot generate more than 35 percent of gross margin.”

Questions hover over Army drone’s 630-mile odyssey across western US

An Army Shadow RQ-7Bv2 launched from southern Arizona on January 31 lost the connection with its ground crew. The Shadow was found February 9 in a tree near Denver, 630 miles away.

Coming soon: Oil spill-mapping swarms of flying drones

The University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has devised a method to quickly map oil spills with a swarm of off the shelf drones. The drones record if they are over water, over oil, or at the edge of the spill. They then share that information among themselves so they waste time covering an area already observed. When reaching low power, the drones return to the ship for a recharge, while new drones join the swarm already knowing what the others have found. Collision avoidance is accomplished via simple rules taken from nature. See the paper: A Swarm-Intelligence Approach to Oil Spill Mapping using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

UAV Video of the Week

DJI – Introducing the Matrice 200 Series

Mentioned

The UAV Digest has become a media partner with the ASCEND Conference & Expo, to be held July 19-21, 2017 in Portland Oregon. ASCEND comes from the team behind Drone360 magazine and will focus on the commercial UAS industry with expert speakers and critical analysis. Registration is now open and the coupon code theUAVdigest will get you a $50 discount.

 

 

 

UAV166 DJI Mavik Hands-On Review

A review of the new DJI Mavik folding quadcopter, Verizon drone tests continue, India looks at ATC towers and civil UAS, drones for flood control, and drones for flood rescue. 

Guest

DJI formation flight

Formation flight (top to bottom): DJI Matrice 600, Inspire 1 Pro, Phantom 4, Mavik Pro. Photo by Brandon Remler.

Parker Gyokeres got his hands on the new DJI Mavik and gives us his observations after flying the quadcopter.

Parker notes that the price, performance, features, light weight, and ultra-compact size makes the Mavik an ideal “gateway drug” to flying drones. The small size, when folded, makes it easy to take with you, and the fast setup time makes it more likely that you’ll actually fly the quadcopter and shoot video.

Parker is the owner of Propellerheads Aerial Photography, LLC, an FAA Part 107 licensed business providing aerial photography and medium/heavy lift cinematography, thermal imaging, NDVI multispectral and 3F photogrammetry.

News

Verizon Forges Ahead with New LTE Drone Project

Verizon Communications wants to outfit drones with 4G LTE and use its ThingSpace IoT platform for industrial surveillance missions and other applications. This is part of their Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) initiative which has been testing since 2014. Verizon brought in American Aerospace Technologies Inc. (AATI) in a test to connect a 17-foot wingspan UAS and their 4G LTE network.

India sets up ATC towers upgradation committee for UAVs

The Indian government has created a government/civil committee to determine infrastructure and technical requirements for air traffic control towers. In the past year, India experienced five near-miss incidents involving commercial aircraft. At least 40 ATC towers need upgrades to mitigate safety and security risks. The Indian government is still working on rules that would allow civil use of UAVs.

How Drones Can Save the Flood Control District Thousands of Headaches

County Flood Control District workers and contractors in Texas currently have to monitor hundreds of miles of bayous and channels, as well as tens of thousands of acres of detention basins. By using drones, they could significantly reduce their inspection costs. So far, in a limited trial with Austin, Texas company HUVR, they’re using a drone to check up on mowing done by contractors.

Video of the Week

Drone, social media make flood rescue happen in real time

Chris Williams and his dog were trapped for 14 hours in their attic. He texted his parents, and they told his brother 1,300 miles away in Texas, who tried but couldn’t get through to authorities.

Meanwhile, Quavas Hart sent his drone out and posted some photos of the flooded area on Instagram, which the brother of the trapped man saw. As a joke, he sent the photo to his brother saying, “at least you’re not this guy.”

Except, that he was that guy. The brother was eventually able to tweet Hart, the drone operator, who “used his drone to attract the attention of a FEMA search-and-rescue boat crew in the neighborhood.” They then rescued the trapped man. “The entire operation was captured by the camera on Hart’s drone.”

UAV164 Reflections on InterDrone

DJI Mavic

Guest

Parker Gyokeres

Parker Gyokeres is the owner of Propellerheads, an FAA Part 107 licensed business providing aerial photography and medium/heavy lift cinematography, thermal imaging, NDVI multispectral and 3F photogrammetry.

Parker is an award-winning U.S. Air Force photojournalist, a freelance author, UAV subject matter expert and photographer. He serves as a member of the board of directors for the Professional Society of Drone Journalists, and he advises national clients on the design, operation, and deployment of advanced aerial systems for use by photographers, surveyors, cinematographers, and military contractors.

Topics

InterDrone

InterDrone 2016, the International Drone Conference and Exposition, was held September 7-9, 2016 in Las Vegas. They had 3,500 attendees from 54 countries, with 155 exhibitors and speakers. Parker tells us how this year’s event was very different from last year’s.

DJI Mavic Pro

DJI’s new Mavic Pro has folding arms and is smaller than the Phantom. Sensors handle obstacle avoidance, tracking of the subject, autonomous landing, and indoor stability. The camera shoots 4K video at 30 fps and full 1080p HD at 96 fps. The Mavic handles live video streaming and even employs gesture control. Parker attended the DJI announcement and tells us all about it.

Lessons from a Shoot

At a shoot, Parker’s drone had a little “encounter” with a barge on the river. The story is humorous but it also contains some good lessons for drone operators.

UAV153 ADS-B Out for Small UAS

Flightradar24 and Skysense collaborate on ADS-B for drones, Boeing establishes the Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory, Kansas chooses an unmanned aircraft director, Eurotunnel employs UAVs, implications of AI, and DJI updates its geofencing capability.

Flightradar 24 and the Skysense BCON1

Flightradar 24 and the Skysense BCON1

News

The Site That Lets You Track Planes In Real-Time Wants to Track Drones Too

Flightradar24 and Skysense are partnering to bring ADS-B solutions to drones. Flightradar24 is investing capital in Skysense, who will use the investment for product development. Skysense has been developing small, lightweight ADS-B OUT boards for small UAS and manned aircraft. They call their BCON1, “the world’s lightest, most energy-efficient and smallest ADS-B OUT device for drones.”

Boeing Opens Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Missouri

The new 8,100-square-foot Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory (CASL) will conduct research to test hardware and software that makes autonomous vehicles work together more effectively as a team or unit. The Lab will work with academic institutions, research partners, government agencies.

Kansas names Air Force veteran first unmanned aircraft director

Kansas has chosen Bob Brock to be its first director of unmanned aircraft systems, reporting to the state’s director of aviation. Brock had a 22-year career in the Air Force and held positions in intelligence and special operations units utilizing drones. He’ll help develop drone-related businesses, ensure safe operation of drones by individuals and companies, and developing a plan with the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture to bring jobs to Kansas.

Drones deployed to keep migrants and refugees out of Channel Tunnel amid warnings of post-Brexit surge

Eurotunnel operates the 30-mile tunnel between Britain and France, and they had already been thinking about tracking people seeking asylum. With the Brexit vote, they are even more concerned about migrants passing through the tunnel before it becomes more difficult to get into Britain. To help address this, Eurotunnel has demonstrated using small surveillance drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras if they believe people are in the 18-mile secure zone surrounding the tunnel entrance in France.

Is AI The Worst Mistake In Human History?

This LinkedIn “Pulse” article by John Battelle looks at the possible implications of a world dominated by Artificial Intelligence, also called Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing.

DJI makes it easier to keep your drone out of no-fly zones

DJI is making improvements to the geofencing system employed by its Phantom and Inspire drones. Permanent and temporary flight restrictions are included, as well as a process to unlock the geofence when that is necessary.

Connecticut father, son fight Federal Aviation Administration over gun-firing, flame-throwing drones

A teenager and his father are refusing to comply with subpoenas ordering them to provide information about the videos they posted. They claim the subpoenas violate their constitutional rights, and they question the FAA’s authority to regulate recreational drones. During questioning for an unrelated assault event, police seized the teen’s phone and reportedly found material that could lead to felony charges.

Video of the Week

Salmon Seining

Listener Josh Jarvis is a commercial fisherman in Southeast Alaska who started flying drones in 2013. After receiving encouraging feedback about his video clips on Instagram, he edited this video that shows commercial salmon fishing in Alaska. Josh has a video channel for his other drone video projects, all filmed with a Phantom 2 and a GoPro HERO3+.

Feedback

This X-shaped sensor will alert you to incoming drones, so you can freak out

FAA Part 107 Frequently Asked Questions in Drone Law by Jonathan Rupprecht

US sUAS/Drone Owner Maps

 

 

 

UAV137 Aurora’s LightningStrike Hybrid-electric X-plane

Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrikeThe Aurora Flight Sciences unmanned VTOL X-plane, shore-to-ship package delivery, Senate FAA reauthorization bill impacts UAS, more proposed local drone legislation, a new DJI Phantom, and high-altitude sUAS flying.

News

Aurora Wins Darpa Contract to Build Novel Drone Demonstrator

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded second- and third-phase contract awards to Aurora Flight Sciences for the “LightningStrike” technology demonstrator. Aurora plans to start flight testing the vertical takeoff and landing experimental plane (VTOL X-Plane) in 2018.

The LightningStrike features two large rear wings and two smaller front canards. The same Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine used in V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is mounted in the fuselage and powers three Honeywell generators which drive 24 ducted fans on the wings and canards. The wings and canards rotate to direct the fan thrust for hovering, transition, and forward flight.

Aurora’s LightningStrike VTOL X-Plane

Maersk Tankers Claims First Drone Delivery to Ship at Sea

A French Xamen Technologies drone dropped a small package onto a Maersk tanker in Denmark as a test to see if drones could be used to deliver spare parts, mail, or medicine to a ship. Compared to traditional means of delivery, the potential cost savings is significant.

Bipartisan Senate FAA bill shuns Shuster’s ATC proposal

The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has introduced a bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill that does not include any proposal for air traffic control privatization. However, under the Senate bill, the US National Institute of Standards (NIST) and the FAA would “develop risk-based, consensus industry standards on [UAV] aircraft safety.”

“The FAA would also establish a process for the airworthiness approval of small [UAVs] based on the consensus standards, in lieu of the more cumbersome certification process used for the approval of other aircraft. These standards … approved by FAA would ultimately improve safety by prescribing which safety technologies would be built into unmanned aircraft systems sold in the United States.”

Drone-Mounted Handgun, Flamethrower Reignite Lawmaker Debate

Reacting to the well-publicised drone weaponization exploits of a Connecticut teen, state legislators have conducted public hearings and proposed legislation to outlaw certain activity.

One bill would make it a class C felony, punishable by one to ten years in prison, to use a drone to release tear gas or other substances, or to control a deadly weapon or explosive device. Another bill would also limit how law enforcement and state agencies can use drones. But Peter Sachs, author of the Drone Law Journal, says one version of the bill exempts police from the ban on weaponized drones.

Proposed Utah legislation would allow cops to shoot down drones

Utah is not fooling around when it comes to drones. The recently introduced Senate Bill 210 would designate certain drone activity as aerial trespassing, and create guidelines for enforcement, including an option for police to shoot down rogue UAVs. State Senator Wayne Harper wants to address three issues: privacy, non-interference with airports and aircraft, and non-interference with emergency situations.

The bill would ban drones within 500 feet of correctional institutions or within three miles of a wildfire, and make it illegal to use a drone in the surveillance of large crowds or for stalking someone in a voyeuristic way. Violating drones could be neutralized by first responders or law enforcement officers.

DJI’s New Phantom 4 Drone Is Smarter, More Expensive and Available From Apple

DJI introduced the Phantom 4 which can dodge obstacles and track humans. The Phantom 4 features two sensors that allow it to react to and avoid obstacles in its path. The TapFly mode lets you tap on the live view on your smart device screen to direct the Phantom 4 in that direction. Flight time increases to 28 minutes, which is 25% more than the Phantom 3 Professional.

Someone thought it would be a good idea to fly a drone at 11,000 ft—it wasn’t

An anonymous YouTuber claims to have flown a modified DJI Phantom 2 to an altitude of 11,000 feet. Not all drone enthusiasts are impressed.

Video of the Week

African kids see drone for the first time!

Mark Brandon Smith was filming in Uganda when the headmaster of a school there asked him to give the kids a show with the drone. Watch the reaction from the kids as he flew the DJI Phantom 3 Professional for a short flight.

Mentioned

High-tech ‘bazooka’ fires a net to take down drones

The SkyWall 100 from U.K.-based OpenWorks Engineering fires projectiles at drones from a shoulder-mounted compressed air launcher. The Skywall locks on the drone, tracks the drone’s flight path, calculates an intercept trajectory, and fires a cannister with a net.

Watch high tech ‘bazooka’ take down a drone Fox News

Watch This Jet Ski Destroy a Drone, and Catch Some Serious Air

 

 

UAV131 Democratized Technology

Skyward.ioThe CEO of Skyward tells us about software and services for commercial UAS operations. Also, DJI and Lufthansa do a drone deal, open source vs. open architecture autopilots, and taking FPV drone racing to the next level.

Guest

Jonathan EvansJonathan Evans is the CEO of Skyward, a provider of professional services and software in the form of airspace maps and integrated flight planning tools for commercial UAV operators.

Jonathan was a professional pilot for 18 years with over 3,000 hours of flight time. He holds an airline transport pilot (ATP) license and commercial and flight instructor ratings in airplanes and helicopters.

Jonathan began his career as a UH60 Blackhawk pilot and served as an Aircraft and Air Mission Commander for the 236th Medical company. He was selected to fly for the Army’s 12th Aviation Battalion, an aviation unit charged with protecting the Washington DC area and flying presidential cabinet members, congressmen and top Pentagon officials. During his military service, Jonathan built and managed secure computer networks and databases.
As a commercial pilot in civilian life, Jonathan flew medical crews to trauma scenes and hospitals for air ambulance companies in New Mexico, Alaska, and Oregon. He also flew in support of resource management and development projects in rural Alaska before settling in Oregon. He is now the CEO of Skyward, a drone operations platform.

Skyward webinarThe Skyward Professional Services team is hosting a webinar February 16 at 10 am PST (GMT-8:00) Get expert advice from the Skyward Professional Services team on running a professional drone operation. To register, see Drone Flights Underway? Expert Advice for Running a Professional Operation.

News

Lufthansa swoops on drone market

Lufthansa signs deal with DJI in fledgling drone push

Lufthansa and DJI have signed a partnership deal under which Lufthansa Aerial Services (LAS) would use DJI products and provide services to commercial customers. That might even include operating the drones. Lufthansa says they want to be a “one-stop-shop,” and that they will decide on their level of commitment by the end of the year.

UAV Propulsion Tech Post #15 – The Advantages of Commercial UAV Autopilots over Open Source Alternatives

Bob Schmidt from UAV Propulsion Tech (a sponsor of this show) posted this white paper by Sarah Vallely from MicroPilot. Last week we talked about the Dronecode Project and open source UAV control software. Adding to that discussion, Vallely brings up some interesting considerations for open source software. She argues that open source software is problematic for commercial applications, and open architecture is a better approach.

Video of the Week

There’s now a drone racing league that feels like pod racing from Star Wars

The Drone Racing League (DRL) announced its inaugural season for FPV racing. Spectator FPV racing suffers from a technical problem: The FPV standard definition video feed from the drone is poor quality, and HD video from the drone isn’t fast enough for the pilots. DRL has a solution: Use a low definition camera for the FPV pilots, and an HD camera that the producers can edit later for viewing.

Mentioned

Max was interviewed for an article in Drone Magazine (UK) about drone podcasts. The article, titled Radio Activity, appears in Issue #2, January 2016. Find more about the magazine on their Facebook page.