Tag Archives: DJI

UAV214 Autonomous Air Taxi Takes Flight

An Autonomous Air Taxi test flight over Dubai, the SpiderMAV perching drone, Flirtey plans for delivery of emergency defibrillators by drone, using the Insitu ScanEagle to fight wildfires, the Zenmuse X7 professional camera, and drones for traffic management studies.

The Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) Over Dubai

The Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) Over Dubai. Courtesy Volocopter.

UAV News

Volocopter Completes Test Flight Over Dubai

The German-designed Volocopter (recently renamed the Autonomous Air Taxi or AAT) performed a test flight over Dubai on September 25. Dubai wants a fleet of autonomous vehicles to handle 25% of all passenger transport by 2030. The 18-rotor AAT flew unmanned and testing is expected to take five years before regular AAT begins. See the video: First ever public demonstration of an autonomous urban air taxi in a mega city by volocopter

SpiderMAV Drone Shoots Webs for Perching and Stabilization

Researchers from Imperial College London’s Aerial Robotics Laboratory have developed the SpiderMAV. This perching drone is based on a DJI Matrice 100 drone with a customized perching module mounted on top and a stabilizing module at the bottom.

Flirtey Partners with Pioneering Ambulance Service to Launch First Emergency Drone Delivery Program in United States

Drone delivery company Flirtey and the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) announced a partnership to launch the first automated defibrillator drone delivery service in the United States.

Insitu Demonstrates Revolutionary UAV Integrated with GIS for Fighting Wildfires

Insitu successfully completed flight tests at the Warm Springs (Oregon) FAA UAS Test Range of a system that supports firefighting efforts. A week later, Insitu deployed its INEXA teams to Oregon to help firefighters with the Eagle Creek fire. The ScanEagle was equipped with electro-optical daylight sensors, infrared video for nighttime flights, and mid-wave sensors, and provided near real-time data for firefighters and first responders. Press release: Insitu Demonstrates Revolutionary UAV Integrated with GIS for Fighting Wildfires.

DJI Releases The Zenmuse X7

The Zenmuse X7 is a Super 35 camera designed for professional aerial cinematography. It uses a 24 MP CMOS sensor with 14 stops of dynamic range and offers both 6K CinemaDNG and 5.2K Apple ProRes. The X7 is priced at $2,699 USD and is scheduled to ship in early November 2017. It works with the DJI Inspire 2 drone.

Drones To Conduct Traffic Study On Black Rock Turnpike In Fairfield Today

The Town of Fairfield, Connecticut is using drones to aid in traffic management studies. Seven drones were to be flown simultaneously for approximately 20 to 30 minutes during the evening rush hour. The pilots were to operate the drones from the edge of the road and the Fairfield Police Department’s Traffic Safety Unit was to be on site at the time.

Mentioned

A possible drone strike on an Army Blackhawk helicopter.

Listener Mark’s list of fixed-wing VTOL drones:

 

UAV208 The Bladeless Drone

A bladeless drone wins a design award, women to watch in UAS, drone support for Hurricane Harvey, DJI issues a mandatory firmware update, Customs and Border Protection nabs a drug runner, video gamers as drone pilots, and talking drones from Amazon.

The Edgar Herrera designed bladeless drone concept.

The Edgar Herrera designed bladeless drone concept.

UAV News

The Dyson of Drones

Mexican designer Edgar Herrera has created a concept for a bladeless drone that is a winner in the 2017 Red Dot Design Concept Award. In this design concept, three bladeless air ducts control direction and can rotate 20 degrees. A fourth central duct provides lift. Is it a viable design? Maybe yes, maybe no.

2017 Women to Watch in UAS

Drone360 magazine and Women and Drones announced the 2017 Women to Watch in UAS List. Nine women were chosen “for their work disrupting, innovating, and shaping the future of the UAS industry.”  The women are:

  • Holly Kasun, COO/CMO and Cofounder of Flybrix based in San Francisco, CA.
  • Mary Wohnrade, Civil engineer, Part 107 operator, and President/Owner of Wohnrade Civil Engineers, based in Broomfield, CO.
  • Karen Joyce, Scientist and Senior Lecturer at James Cook University, Cofounder of She Flies, based in Queensland, Australia.
  • Lexie Janson, FPV drone racer, software developer, drone certification teacher based in Gdynia, Poland.
  • Natalie Cheung, General Manager of Drone Light Shows in the UAV Group at Intel based in Santa Clara, CA.
  • Catherine Ball, Cofounder of World of Drones Congress, Cofounder and Chief Engagement Officer at She Flies, Founder and Publisher of Gumption Trigger, based in Queensland, Australia.
  • Helena Samsioe, Founder and CEO of GLOBHE based in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Gretchen West, Senior Advisor at Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, Co-Executive Director at the Commercial Drone Alliance, and Cofounder of Women of Commercial Drones, based in Menlo Park, CA.
  • Leah LaSalla, Technical Founder and CEO at Astral AR based in Austin, TX.

FAA Supports Drone Assessments for Houston Response and Recovery

As of August 31, 2017, the FAA had issued 43 unmanned aircraft system authorizations to drone operators supporting the response and recovery for Hurricane Harvey or covering it as part of the media.

DJI will ground Spark drones on September 1st unless owners install an update

DJI is pushing out a firmware update to fix the problem with some Spark drones falling out of the sky.This is a mandatory firmware update. Your Spark won’t fly without the update. DJI says the problem is related to the battery management system and power supply.

See the DJI press release: DJI Spark Firmware Update Enhances Flight Safety

Border Patrol Spots Meth-Carrying UAV in San Diego

The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection has arrested a 25-year-old man for using a consumer drone to transport several pounds of methamphetamine across the Mexican border.

Would Video Gamers Make Better Unmanned Aircraft Pilots Than Actual Pilots?

Psychologists at the University of Liverpool in the UK conducted a study. “Findings support the idea that VGPs (video game players) could be considered a resource in UAS operation.” The report is published in the journal Cogent Psychology: Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operators’ accuracy and confidence of decisions: Professional pilots or video game players?

Look for Military Drones to Begin Replacing Police Helicopters by 2025

Defense contractors see a market opportunity for large military-style drones to be used instead of police helicopters. General Atomics is investing in a new version of the Reaper.

Alexa-enabled Amazon drones could talk with customers when delivering packages

An Amazon patent envisions drones that interact with people – live audio and video. This could be used to warn someone standing too close to the landing zone or to have a conversation with customer support.

UAV Video of the Week

RDDC2016: Bladeless Drone

Photos of the Week

Solar Eclipse, Cerulean, KY by Max Flight

Solar Eclipse, Cerulean, KY by Max Flight

Reaper by David Vanderhoof

Reaper by David Vanderhoof

 

 

UAV207 Drone Racing with the Pro Aerial League

A new drone racing league takes shape, an unmanned aircraft vehicle traffic management system is planned for Kansas, Northrop Grumman’s MQ-25 drone tanker testbed was spotted, a Phantom landed on an aircraft carrier, DJI responds to issues over data transmission, and drones assist in a rescue mission.

The RIOT 250R for the PAL drone racing league.

The RIOT 250R Pro racing drone. Courtesy Thrust-UAV.

UAV News

Professional drone racers start new league with six teams and big inaugural event in Everett arena

The Pro Aerial League (PAL) is a new drone racing organization that will feature indoor spectator events with six teams, each with six pilots. Pilots will race RIOT 250R Pro racing drones from Thrust-UAV through multiple types of challenges in order to determine the best team in terms of speed, skill, and strategy. The inaugural event is August 19, 2017, at the Xfinity Arena in Everett, Washington.

Riot 250R Pro by Thrust UAV Commercial

AirMap Takes Flight with Kansas

AirMap announced a partnership with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to deploy the AirMap platform across the state. Their goal is “to open more airspace for drone operations, support Kansas’ growing community of drone operators, and ensure that the skies are safer for all.” The AirMap platform will be available to Kansas airports, state colleges and universities, and government agencies.

AirMap is one of the 12 companies assembled by the FAA for LAANC, the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, providing automated notification for flight in U.S. controlled airspace. A list of the initial 50 airports is available in Coming This Fall: Automated Airspace Authorization at U.S. Airports.

Northrop Grumman MQ-25 Drone Tanker Testbed Emerges At Plant 42 In California

Development contracts were previously awarded to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, and Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray drone. The MQ-25 Stingray is a carrier-launched tanker designed to extend the combat range of carrier aircraft. Aviation Week is now showing a low-quality photograph of what it says is Northrop Grumman’s modified X-47B flying test bed as part of its MQ-25 bid.

A drone landed on Britain’s biggest warship and nobody cared

A “Black Isle Images” photographer landed a DJI Phantom on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. The landing was unintentional and the Phantom landed itself after sensing high winds. The photographer presented himself to the armed guards, but “no one seemed too concerned.” He also gave the authorities his phone number, but nobody called.

DJI Develops Option For Pilots To Fly Without Internet Data Transfer

DJI announced on August 14, 2017, that it is “developing a new local data mode that stops internet traffic to and from its flight control apps, in order to provide enhanced data privacy assurances for sensitive government and enterprise customers.” In local data mode, DJI apps will stop sending or receiving any data over the internet. That includes relevant local maps and geofencing data, the latest software updates, correct radio frequency and power requirements, and newly-issued flight restrictions.

First drone-assisted rescue in Southside a high-flying success

A logger on the Dan River in Virginia was pinned down by a tree. As the Danville Life Saving Crew traveled to the location, they created a plan that included using their drones. Just last month, they had received training to become certified drone operators, and on arrival at the scene, the drones were deployed to assist in making the operation safer. Danville Life Saving Crew assistant director Bryan Fox said, “We were able to navigate the boats around some circumstances in the water, some debris, rock formations, that [the rescuers] didn’t see from the boat as they were trying to navigate.”

UAV Video of the Week

On Sunday, July 2, 2017, a drone was spotted on the approach path to Gatwick Airport. This is the disruption it caused.

Gatwick drone incident – 2 July

 

UAV206 DJI and Data Security

DJI drones come under attack for data transmissions, the U.S. Army responds, military installations get approval to take down drones, a Navy fighter is forced to take evasive action, automated approval to fly in airport airspace, and thrust-assisted perching.

DJI Phantom 4 Advanced

Phantom 4 Advanced, courtesy DJI.

UAV News

Drone Data Security

sUAS News describes the data they say is collected during the flight of a DJI drone, logged into your DJI Go app, and transmitted back to DJI Servers.

US Army calls for units to discontinue use of DJI equipment

The U.S. Department of the Army issued a “Memorandum for Record” directing military installations to “Cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction.” This is in reaction to U.S. Army Research Lab and U.S. Navy studies that concluded there are operational risks associated with DJI equipment.

A government study found DJI drone, banned by US Army, kept data safe

In October 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tested a DJI DJI S-1000 using a packet sniffer to monitor transmissions between the drone and the computer. NOAA’s report states that “The majority of transactions to the DJI servers were to login to DJI servers hosted at both Amazon Web Services and Linode to check for software updates. These transactions are quite common for software of this type, and nothing unusual was detected during the experiment.” Further, “There was no evidence whatsoever of any attempt by any software to transfer any data from the aircraft.”

However, one of the authors of the NOAA study observed a different result when he tested personal Phantom 3. The Phantom was sending encrypted data back to DJI servers.

New policy: Military bases can shoot down trespassing drones

In July, a classified policy was sent to the services from the Pentagon. More recently unclassified guidance was sent concerning how to communicate the new policy to local communities. Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said military installations “retain the right of self-defense when it comes to UAVs or drones operating over [them.] The new guidance does afford of the ability to take action to stop these threats and that includes disabling, destroying and tracking.”

Iranian drone forces US jet to take evasive action

A Navy F/A-18 had to make an evasive maneuver while trying to land on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. An Iranian QOM-1 drone came within 100 feet below the F/A-18 and 200 feet to the side.

50 Airports Across the U.S. to Adopt Automated Airspace Authorizations for Drones

The FAA Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) page says, “The FAA is currently in acquisition for the first step of a UTM system, the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), which supports air traffic control authorization requirements for UAS operations conducted under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (part 101e) and the Small UAS Rule (part 107). The current airport notification and airspace authorization processes are manual for the small UAS. LAANC will provide part 101 & 107 UAS operators a streamlined solution to enable real time automated notification and authorization.”

Now fifty airports will start using LAANC in Autumn 2017. UAS operators will be able to apply for automated authorizations to fly in controlled airspace around those airports.

UAV Video of the Week

Innovative Vertical-Landing Drone Can Stick to Walls Like a Fly

Researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada have developed the fixed-wing Multimodal Autonomous Drone (S-MAD) that is capable of repeated perching and take-off cycles.

The S-MAD: A Drone Landing on Walls Like a Bird

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UAV205 Smith College Drone Class

Max and @dronemama visit Smith College and talk to the summer drone class, 3DR and DJI join resources, drones assist with invasive snakes, Farmers Insurance expands the use of UAS, and a drone privacy spat on Twitter.

Max speaks with students at the Smith College Drone Class.

Max speaks with students at the Smith College Drone Class.

Drone Class at Smith College

Jon Caris and Max Flight

Jon Caris, Director at Smith College Spatial Analysis Lab (L) and Max.

Max spoke to the SSEP Drone Class at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. The class is part of the College’s Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP), a four-week residential program for exceptional young women with strong interests in science, engineering, and medicine. High school students from across the United States and abroad do hands-on research with Smith faculty in the life and physical sciences and in engineering.


The young women are building quadcopters in the Smith College Spatial Analysis Lab where they learn about drone laws and regulations, applications of the technology, flight mechanics and piloting skills, photogrammetry and image processing, and of course drone safety. The students are highly engaged, and this program is a wonderful opportunity for them.

Drone class students at Smith College

Smith College drone class students.

UAV News

America’s top drone company couldn’t beat China’s DJI, so now they’re partners

3D Robotics announced that they are entering into a partnership with DJI and will integrate their Site Scan software with DJI drones. This is an enterprise solution for industries like construction, insurance, surveying & mapping, utilities, and telecom. Sales at 3DR were not up to expectations and the company consumed $100M in venture capital trying to compete. Now, 3DR will focus on software instead of hardware.

3DR Site Scan data capture technology can use 3DR (with Sony R10C) or DJI (Phantom 4 Pro) vehicles and operate in four autonomous flight modes for data capture. Data is uploaded to the cloud and can be processed by Pix4D and Autodesk ReCap. The service includes complimentary drone replacement for accidents and malfunctions.

VolAero Drones Starts Python Tracking Project In Everglades Using Thermal Technology

The population of non-native Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades has exploded to the point where they are a threat to the small mammal population. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the South Florida Water Management District are now looking to professional drone services company VolAero Drones and drone imaging technologies to help manage the situation.

Farmers Insurance launches drone program with Kespry

Farmers Insurance is expanding their use of UAS for residential property damage assessments. The company is looking for faster inspection times with fewer safety risks for field adjusters. Drones from Kespry will “gather rooftop imagery and data, generate analytic reports, supplement ladder assist capabilities, and resolve more claims with greater efficiency and accuracy.” The FAA-licensed drone operators will be Farmers’ own claims professionals.

Kentucky governor says news station drone invaded privacy

Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted: “The drone that was just flying over my home & filming my children was personally flown by @WDRBNews Director.” WDRB news director Barry Fulmer followed with his own tweet: “.@GovMattBevin WDRB was flying a drone in accordance to the FAA rules to cover news happening at your home. There is NO video of children.”

UAV Video of the Week

Drone captures mesmerizing footage of hundreds of fish on pink salmon run

Video captured by Danny Sanford in Hartney Bay in Cordova, Alaska.

UAV204 Drone Registration Planned for the UK

The UK plans to require registration for drones over 250 grams, a study looks at drone strikes on aircraft windscreens, a transformable UAV is under development, Airbus tested their Sagitta demonstrator, some DJI Sparks are experiencing a problem, and draft Technical Standard Orders win AOPA approval.

The Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR)

The Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR)

UAV News

Drones to be registered and users to sit safety tests under new government rules

Drone registration is coming to the UK, along with drone safety awareness tests. This will apply to drones over 250 grams. Operators may be able to register online or with an app. The government also plans for expanded use of geofencing in the UK.

Drones and manned aircraft collisions: test results

The summary report from the Department for Transport, British Airline Pilots’ Association, and the Military Aviation Authority says drones weighing 400 grams could damage windscreens. Airliner windscreens were found to be more resistant than helicopter windscreens.

The Small Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (drones): Mid-Air Collision Study [PDF] was conducted by QinetiQ and Natural Impacts using laboratory collision testing and computer modelling. The study aimed to find the lowest speed at collision where critical damage could occur to aircraft components. Critical damage was defined in this study to mean major structural damage of the aircraft component or penetration of drone through the windscreen into the cockpit. The study indicated that:

  • Non-birdstrike certified helicopter windscreens have very limited resilience to the impact of a drone, well below normal cruise speeds.
  • The non-birdstrike certified helicopter windscreen results can also be applied to general aviation aeroplanes which also do not have a birdstrike certification requirement.
  • Although the birdstrike certified windscreens tested had greater resistance than non-birdstrike certified, they could still be critically damaged at normal cruise speeds.
  • Helicopter tail rotors are also very vulnerable to the impact of a drone, with modelling showing blade failures from impacts with the smaller drone components tested.
  • Airliner windscreens are much more resistant, however, the study showed that there is a risk of critical windscreen damage under certain impact conditions: It was found that critical damage did not occur at high, but realistic impact speeds, with the 1.2 kg class drone components. However, critical damage did occur to the airliner windscreens at high, but realistic, impact speeds, with the 4 kg class drone components used in this study.
  • The construction of the drone plays a significant role in the impact of a collision. Notably, the 400 g class drone components, which included exposed metal motors, caused critical failure of the helicopter windscreens at lower speeds than the 1.2 kg class drone components, which had plastic covering over their motors. This is believed to have absorbed some of the shock of the collision, reducing the impact.
  • The testing and modelling showed that the drone components used can cause significantly more damage than birds of equivalent masses at speeds lower than required to meet birdstrike certification standards.

The THOR Hybrid UAV

A team of students at the Singapore University of Technology and Design is developing the Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR). The prototype is based on the single-blade monocopter concept from 1913, although THOR actually has two opposing wings, mounted at right angles to each other. The wings rotate into alignment when transitioning from hover to cruise. See episode #48 Evan Ulrich and his RoboSeed for our previous conversation about a monocopter UAV.

Video: SUTD Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR)

Successful first flight for UAV demonstrator SAGITTA

Airbus Defence and Space has flown their demonstrator Sagitta UAV. The 25 percent scale fixed-wing aircraft is powered by two turbine engines. It was developed in cooperation with a number of industry and academic partners.

Some DJI Spark drones are falling from the sky, and that’s to be expected

Complaints have appeared in DJI forums that some of the new Spark drones are shutting down and falling from the sky. DJI has issued a statement:

“DJI is aware of a small number of reports involving Spark drones that have lost power mid-flight. Flight safety and product reliability are top priorities. Our engineers are thoroughly reviewing each customer case and working to address this matter urgently. DJI products are tested for thousands of hours, and the overwhelming number of customers enjoy using our products with minimal disruption.”

AOPA Backs Unmanned System Standards

Two draft TSOs (Technical Standard Orders) have been issued that would apply to unmanned aircraft transitioning to and from Class A and special-use airspace, and traversing other types of airspace. The TSOs are meant to determine minimum standards that allow manned and unmanned aircraft to remain safely separated. The draft standards would not apply to small UAS – those under 55 pounds and governed by Part 107.

TSO-C211, Detect and Avoid (DAA) Systems [PDF]

TSO-C212, Air-to-Air Radar (ATAR) for Traffic Surveillance [PDF]

UAV Video of the Week

Soccer fans use toilet roll to take down drone in Argentina

 

 

 

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…