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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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+.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
Jonathan 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Attorney and model airplane enthusiast John A. Taylor from Silver Spring, Maryland believes that the FAA requirement for sUAS registration is a violation of Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Taylor requested an emergency stay of the registration requirement, but that was denied. The lawsuit is proceeding through the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, with a filing deadline of January 27, 2016.
Administrator Michael Huerta spoke at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, praising the work of the Registration Task force and noting that as of January 6, 2016, 181,061 operators had registered their drones.
Huerta was joined by Registration Task Force members:
Dave Vos, project lead for Google X’s Project Wing
Nancy Egan, 3D Robotics general counsel
Brendan Schulman, vice president of policy and legal affairs for DJI
Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
Schulman expressed concern about the ability to find an operator’s home address by looking up their registration number. On enforcement, Huerta says the FAA is trying for “voluntary compliance” but also that the FAA works closely with local enforcement.
Also at CES, Huerta announced the public release of the B4UFLY app for iOS, and the beta of a version for the Android operating system. The FAA says, “B4UFLY tells users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System (NAS) where they may want to operate their unmanned aircraft system (UAS).”
The FAA Registration FAQs were updated to further explain the process:
Q52. Who can see the data that I can enter?
A. The FAA will be able to see the data that you enter. The FAA is using a contractor to maintain the website and database, and that contractor also will be able to see the data that you enter. Like the FAA, the contractor is required to comply with strict legal requirements to protect the confidentiality of the personal data you provide. Under certain circumstances, law enforcement officers might also be able to see the data. In the future, the registration database will be searchable by registration number only, but not by name or address. However, it is not searchable at this time.
Q2. Does it cost anything to register?
A. Federal law requires owners to pay $5 to register their aircraft. However, registration is free for the first 30 days to encourage speedy registration of UAS. During the first 30 days, you must pay $5 with a credit card, a pre-paid credit card or a debit card from a major bank. A $5 credit will appear 5-10 days afterwards.
Q9. Does the FAA have two different registration systems? If so, why?
A. Yes, there are two systems. The online system is currently only required for UAS used for hobby or recreational purposes. This new registration process is quick and easy and provides the registrant with a registration certificate immediately. The paper-based system is for manned aircraft and unmanned aircraft that are not solely used for [non-]hobby or recreational purposes or weigh more than 55 lbs. This process takes much longer to complete and the $5 registration fee is non-refundable. The FAA will transition the paper-based system to a web-based tool later in 2016.
Q11. Are non-U.S. citizens visiting the United States on vacation or for drone competitions required to register?
A. Everyone, including foreign nationals and tourists, who operate a UAS for hobby or recreational purposes outdoors in the U.S. must use the FAA’s online registration system. These non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent U.S. residents will receive the same registration certificate as U.S. Citizens or permanent U.S. residents. However, this certificate will function as a “recognition of ownership” document. This document is required by the Department of Transportation for foreign nationals to operate legally in the US.
Q19. I would like to fly my Radio/Remote Controlled (RC) aircraft outdoors, do I have to register it?
A. Yes, RC aircraft are unmanned aircraft and must be registered online if they weigh more than 0.55 lbs. and less than 55 pounds.
The $100,000 2016 DJI SDK Developer Challenge brings DJI and Ford together to create drone-to-vehicle communications using Ford SYNC®AppLink or OpenXC. This is an opportunity for you to design an unmanned rescue aircraft that can be used for search missions.
“The aircraft must autonomously enter the ‘disaster area’ and gather information on the location of the ‘survivors’, and transmit it back to the computing device in the vehicle. Having captured all necessary information, it must then automatically return and land on the moving vehicle.”
Primary Technical Challenge: Automatic landing on a moving vehicle
The UAS Registration Task Force issues its report to the FAA, and industry responds. A free, worldwide UAS course for new users, and package delivery by drone down under.
UAS Registration Task Force
The Registration Task Force provided its sUAS registration recommendations [PDF] to the FAA. The FAA will now consider those recommendations, as well as the public comments received, and issue its requirements for registration. If all goes according to the plan, these will come from the FAA this month, in December.
In its final report, the Task Force recommended:
Registration for all drones between 250 grams (.55 pounds) and 55 pounds operated outdoors
Registration by owner, not by drone. One registration number applies to all your drones.
As an alternative, you can instead register by manufacturer serial number.
Registration is required by time of flight, not at point of sale.
The “AMA agrees that registration of UAS makes sense at some level and for flyers operating outside the guidance of a community-based organization or flying for commercial purposes.” But the Academy of Model Aeronautics does not support registration for its membership flying non-commercially.
The organization argues that members operate under a community-based organization: “Adding an additional requirement for AMA members to register at the federal level is contrary to the intent of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Public Law clearly states that the FAA is prohibited from promulgating any new rules for recreational users operating within the safety guidelines of a community-based organization. Congress by no means intended to grant a free pass for individuals who operate model aircraft. Instead, it clearly intended to leave risk mitigation and the development of appropriate safety guidelines for the operation of these devices by the members of the AMA to the nationwide community-based organization.”
“We share the concerns of many of the 4,700 people who filed comments that this process was initiated in response to sensational headlines rather than data-based risk assessments, and contradicts the provisions of several federal statutes. Nonetheless, we undertook in good faith the assignment, which was not to argue the law, but to use our expertise and knowledge as the world’s largest drone manufacturer to recommend to the Administrator a national drone registration system intended to be minimally burdensome to consumers and professionals, and effective at the stated goals.”
Lia Reich is Senior Director of Communications at PrecisionHawk, and PrecisionHawk was a member of the task force. In this piece, Lia provides some major points concerning the Task Force recommendations, but she also notes that she was on the “Women in Drones” panel at the Drone World Expo in San Jose. The panel discussed some of the ways that women can better influence outcomes in the commercial drone space.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide is offering “Unmanned Aerospace Systems (UAS) – Key Concepts for New Users.” The massive open online course (MOOC) runs from Jan. 11 to 24, 2016. Registration opens Dec. 8, 2015.
The MOOC will consist of two 30 to 40-minute pre-recorded presentations, interactive discussion boards, and supporting links and videos. MOOC topics will include:
The UAS Operating Environment
The National Airspace System (NAS)
Understanding the Basic Dos/Don’ts of UAS/Recreational Drone Operations
Planning to Fly Safe
Embry-Riddle says, “The primary goal is to educate new UAS users about effective operating procedures that foster safe UAS operations.”
Bob Schmidt, president of UAV Propulsion Tech, attended this year’s Dubai Airshow looking for potential UAV customers for propulsion, servo, autopilot, and rescue/recovery parachute products. Bob’s well-illustrated report describes the UAVs at the airshow, but notes that there weren’t as many UAV exhibitors as he had hoped. Bob looks forward to the UMEX show (Unmanned Systems Exhibition & Conference) in Abu Dhabi March 6-8, 2016 since this event is focused on UAVs.
Australia Post is trialing package delivery with drones that could be put to use as early as next year. The $10,000 drones will carry 2kg packages up to 25km, although the Post is looking at transporting 10kg packages.
The Colorado Agricultural Aviation Assoc., Agribotix, UAS Colorado, and Avian conducted a test to see if pilots flying crop-dusting and other low-flying aircraft could see drones flying over the same fields. They could not.
The RoboUniverse Conference and Expo takes place December 14-16, 2015 in San Diego, California. It begins with a half day of interactive tutorials, followed by 2 days of conference sessions and exhibit hall access. Sessions include a drones track and keynote sessions by industry leaders, such as Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics. Other features include Drone Zone demos, an EZDrone Crash Course, and RoboGameChanger startup competition. If you act fast, you can get 10% off the conference price when you use the discount code “DIGEST.”
DJI and 3D Robotics bring real-time airspace restrictions to UAV software, a UAV flagship store is planned to open, ArcadiaSky opens a marketplace for commercial UAV operators, FAA gives a UAV registration warning, and another municipality regulates drone flights.
DJI plans to introduce a dynamic geofencing system that continuously provides updated airspace information to the operator. Data comes from Geospatial Environment Online (GEO). Drone operators will see temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) in real time, including forest fires, major stadium events, VIP travel, and restrictions around prisons, power plants, and other restricted areas such as national parks.
However, operators with verified DJI accounts could temporarily unlock or self-authorize flights in some of those locations, but not in sensitive national-security locations. This to accommodate the authorized applications and provide accountability if the flight is later under investigation.
DJI intends to start this in December, first in North America and Europe via a DJI Go app update, and also a drone firmware update.
GEO is powered by geospatial data from Santa Monica, California-based AirMap, which calls itself “the leading provider of airspace information and services for drones. AirMap’s real-time services are available to manufacturers through an API and through an SDK for application developers.”
Just as we were recording this episode, a video was posted from Drone World Expo titled DJI Technology Policy Announcement by Brendan Schulman, VP of Policy & Legal Affairs.
3D Robotics will also integrate AirMap’s safety information into its Solo smart drone app. CEO and co-founder Chris Anderson says, “…we want to make flying as safe as it is easy. Supplementing the Solo app with AirMap’s robust and reliable real-time airspace information allows us to increase education with a seamless and enjoyable drone experience.”
From the 3DR press release: “If Solo users open their Solo app in a restricted area, they’ll see a warning. Users can then tap the warning to bring up a map that displays any airspace information in the area. This airspace information includes real-time Temporary Flight Restrictions that may be established in the areas around wildfires, major sporting events and other sensitive places. The Solo app will contain basic airspace information: federal guidelines (e.g., five miles from an airport); national parks; airbases, etc.”
Australian company ArcadiaSky wants to make it easier to find licenced commercial UAV operators. After two months, they have 180 drone operators in 74 locations in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They’ve received over 1,300 requests for quotes.
The FAA has issued a statement saying UAV owners should wait for the registration process to be announced before they work with any company that offers to help you with registration.
At least one company is offering this kind of service.
The FAA wants “a streamlined unmanned aircraft registration process that will be simple and easy to complete… The Task Force …is working on recommendations for a system that is similar to registering any newly purchased product with its manufacturer…”
The Chicago City Council approved an ordinance regulating drone use and requiring that drones cannot fly above 400 feet, must be line-of-sight, and cannot fly within five miles of O’Hare and Midway Airports. Also, no flying of drones over schools, churches, hospitals, police stations, and any private property without consent.
This international film and photography competition culminates in a one-night festival dedicated to everything drones. It’s part of the SkyTech 2016 Drone Expo on the 27th January 2016. Submissions are accepted until December 13, 2015.
Package delivery by autonomous drone, drone company management changes, making interfering with firefighters illegal, drone service on demand, North Dakota innovation hub, drone photography contest results, USAF addresses pilot shortage, and accidents increase in Netherlands.
Freight carrier Swiss WorldCargo announced on July 7 that testing had begun using the Matternet ONE drone for small package delivery. The quadcopter operates autonomously and can carry one kilogram up to 10 kilometers on a single battery charge. Matternet says the drone uses “secure routes that adapt to weather, terrain and airspace [and] allow Matternet ONE to fly autonomously beyond line of sight, without the need for a human pilot.” The cloud-based routing system … ”guides the Matternet ONE along a secure route at low altitude – between 50-100 meters above ground – adjusting for inclement weather, avoiding tall buildings, mountains and restricted airspace.”
Brendan Schulman, who defended Pirker against the FAA, has left law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel where he was head of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice. Now Schulman is Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs at drone maker DJI.
Other movements in the industry include:
Amazon hired former Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) counsel Ben Gielow in September as its senior manager of public policy.
Amazon appointed Sean Cassidy, a former Alaska Airlines pilot and first vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association, as director of partner relationships in March.
Last August, Google hired David Vos, a technology entrepreneur and former Rockwell Collins senior director, to lead its Project Wing effort to deliver packages.
In April, Francis “Chip” Sheller, the former Aerospace Industries Association vice president of communications and research, became vice president of communications and public affairs for Aurora Flight Sciences.
Former deputy director of the FAA’s flight standards service, John McGraw, acted as a consultant to video production companies applying for an FAA sUAS exemption.
California representative Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) introduced H.R. 3025 to the House of Representatives, which would make it a criminal offense to interfere with firefighting efforts on federal land.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Fly4Me received a Section 333 exemption to “conduct community training workshops, research and development, and aerial inspections of buildings and land within the United States.” Now the company wants to establish a marketplace where customers book flights and pilots bid on projects. Customers are able to interact with the pilot during the flight and stream FPV. A beta version of the platform was released June 17, 2015.
North Dakota wants to be an innovation hub for drones. Grand Sky Development Park is set to open this summer at Grand Forks Air Force Base as a UAS Business and Aviation Park. The facility features 1.2 million square feet of hangar and office space, and a runway for drones. The state invested $5 million in infrastructure and $7.5 million more in grants for runway improvements.
The U.S Air Force has a plan to address the RPA pilot shortage that includes a Critical Skills Retention Bonus for RPA pilots, assignment of about 80 Undergraduate pilot training graduates to RPA squadrons beginning in August, and spending more than $100 million to buy six next-generation ground control stations, training simulators, and contract instructors.
According to the Dutch Transport Ministry, inspectors received reports of 8 small unmanned aircraft accidents in 2012, 15 in 2013, and 27 in 2014. Most of the incidents were reported by manned aircraft and professional drone users and eleven of the 2014 incidents involved a crash landing close to people or buildings. New rules governing the use of drones come into effect later this year.
This book contains the work of three authors, including Harry Giles’ Drone, which explores modern warfare and office life. Harry tells us that there will be a performance of the poetry in August at the Edinburgh Festival this year at Summerhall.