Tag Archives: drone racing

UAV183 An Autonomous Taxi Drone

Dubai plans to address traffic problems with a taxi drone, the Drone Advisory Committee looks at UAS tasks, a concept for very large racing drones forms in Australia, a tower trade organization issues a UAS guidance document, investing in drone technology, an NDVI data gathering solution for growers, a Microsoft UAS simulation platform, and Amazon looks at controlled descent of ejected packages.

Ehang 184 Taxi Drone

Ehang 184 Autonomous Taxi Drone

UAV News

Dubai To Launch Flying Drone Taxis In July

By the year 2030, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wants 25 percent of all passenger trips in Dubai to be provided by autonomous vehicles. The head of Dubai’s Roads & Transportation Agency says they have been experimenting with the Ehang 184 as an autonomous taxi drone.

The single-seat taxi drone has a 30-minute flight time with a 50-kilometer range. The passenger selects the destination on a touchpad, and the drone flies there autonomously. Flights would be monitored remotely at a control room.

See the video: EHANG 184 Flight Test, published on Dec 28, 2016, and also Dubai is buying 200 Tesla vehicles as part of its ambitious self-driving taxi plan

Drone Advisory Committee Builds Consensus

At the second meeting of the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) on January 31, 2017, three draft tasking statements were reviewed:

  1. The roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local governments in regulating and enforcing drone laws.
  2. Technological and regulatory mechanisms that would allow drone operators to gain access to the airspace beyond what the agency currently permits under the Small UAS Rule.
  3. Funding to offset the cost of supporting unmanned aircraft integration into the nation’s airspace.

Giant drone racing is here, and it’s just as awesome as it sounds

Australian Chris Ballard thinks he has a better idea for the sport of drone racing. He founded startup Freedom Class Giant Drone Racing and is designing, building, and testing giant racing drones. Ballard says he’s “looking to achieve the Formula 1 of the drone-racing world.” See the video: Freedom Class Giant Drone – Initial Flight Test – January 2017.

NATE Unveils 2nd Edition of Unmanned Aerial Systems Safety Resource

The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) has released the 2nd Edition of the resource document NATE Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations Around Vertical Communications Infrastructure. [PDF] The document is intended to address UAS operations around wireless infrastructure, cellular towers, broadcast towers and utility structures. The 2nd Edition incorporates updates associated with the FAA Part 107 rules for the commercial operation of UAS.

How to Invest in Drone Technology

With DJI commanding a large market share, what other options do investors have? There are large companies in the industry, such as Lockheed Martin, GoPro, Boeing, Amazon, United Parcel Service, and Intel. There is even an exchange-traded fund. But drone component companies are another option.

Sentera Adds TrueNDVI™ to DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone

Sentera produces sensors that image Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data to help growers manage crop health. Now Sentera has announced they can convert a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone into a system that collects TrueNDVI™ crop health data. A single flight can capture visual-band RGB, near-infrared (NIR), and NDVI data.

Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform

Microsoft’s open-source Aerial Informatics and Robotics platform addresses “the large data needs for training, and the ability to debug in a simulator.” The system “provides realistic simulation tools for designers and developers to seamlessly generate the copious amounts of training data they need. In addition, the platform leverages recent advances in physics and perception computation to create accurate, real-world simulations.”

Amazon considers parachutes for drone delivered packages

Amazon has a patent for “Maneuvering a package following in-flight release from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).” Now we have the possibility of delivery drones that land, those that lower their package, and those that eject their package. The descent of ejected packages could be controlled by a parachute, landing flaps, or compressed air canisters.

Verizon Acquires Skyward to Simplify Drone Operations and Reduce Complexity for Businesses

Verizon announced a deal to buy Skyward for an undisclosed sum. The maker of drone operations software says, “Skyward’s drone operations management platform combined with Verizon’s network, reliability, trusted brand, and expertise in building enterprise solutions will help [Skyward] deliver the solutions our customers need faster than ever before.”

UAV Video of the Week

The eagles: new anti-drone weapons

Screen capture from the TF1 television newscast of 12 February 2017.

The eagles: new anti-drone weapons

The French Armed Forces are using birds of prey to capture drones in flight. The video shows how the birds are trained and how they take down drones.

Mentioned

Papa John’s Commercial 2017 Drones

Patrick sent us this commercial where pizza delivery drones run amuck.

 

 

UAV159 Taking the FAA Online UAS Training Course

We talk with a Part 61 pilot who has successfully completed the FAA UAS online training course. We also look at consumer drone vulnerabilities, the threats that drones represent to aviation, using big data to develop a contextual route-plan for autonomous drones, a globe-trotting drone racer, and flying drones in public parks.

Flock flight planning tool

Flock flight planning tool

Part 107

The new small drone rule for non-hobbyists (also known as Part 107) becomes effective August 29, 2016. The person flying a drone must have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with that certificate.

To qualify for the certificate, you must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate.

Those with a Part 61 pilot certificate must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and take an FAA UAS online training course.

Guest

Max Trescott is a certified flight instructor and co-host on the Airplane Geeks podcast. Max completed the ALC-451, Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) online course and tells us about his experience.

At the FAA Safety Team website, pilots can start by clicking the Part 107 image at the top of the page. After completing the course, print the completion certificate or email to yourself. Then, on or after August 29, 2016, sign into IACRA.faa.gov and fill out the application for a Part 107 license. Flight Instructors, pilot examiners, and FAA inspectors can then approve pilot as a commercial drone operator. The materials can be reviewed by clicking the “Part 107 Knowledge Test Prep” button at www.faa,gov/uas.

News

Why Are Engineers Intentionally Crashing Drones?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering have been testing consumer drones for vulnerabilities. They found they could overload the drone’s CPU with wireless connection requests and cause an uncontrolled landing, they could crash the drone by sending it a large data packet and causing a buffer overflow, and the drone made an emergency landing when researchers confused the controller with false data packets.

Lanier A. Watkins, the cybersecurity researcher who supervised the recent drone research, said, “You see it with a lot of new technology. Security is often an afterthought. The value of our work is in showing that the technology in these drones is highly vulnerable to hackers.”

Johns Hopkins Research Finds Drones Vulnerable to Attack

Drones, lasers seen as key aviation terrorism threats

A report by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism titled, Trends in Aviation Terrorism identified three threats: lasers, radicalized airport employees, and drones. With respect to drone threats, the report notes:

  • Proximity of drones to airliners and airports and the possibility of taking one down
  • Terrorist websites advocating drones with explosives to take down airplanes
  • Reports of terrorists using drones for intelligence gathering in Syria, Iraq and other countries.

New AI program could help drones avoid flying over big crowds

Artificial intelligence company Flock uses “Big Data” to drive a contextual route-planner for drones. Their AI platform “tracks in real time the position of people, vehicles, structures, weather systems and more, calculating the safest possible flight-paths for drones to fly through congested urban environments.” The algorithm “visualises population density and traffic statistics using real-time data streams.”

Canadian drone racer says sport better version of Formula One racing

26-year old Andrew “MayMayDay” Meyer is traveling the world competing in drone races. Places like Canada, the United States, Dubai, and South Korea. He competed at Canada’s Drone Nationals last year, he placed 10th at the U.S. National Drone Racing Championships in New York City this year, he flew at South Korea’s Chuncheon Drone Race World Cup just recently, and he’s entered in the Drone World Championship in Hawaii in October. Find Andrew on Facebook.

Recreational drone use prohibited in local parks

The Bay Area District of the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation has banned drones and other unmanned aircraft. Park officials are concerned about “potential disturbances to wildlife, public safety issues, and negative impacts on other park patrons.”

Video of the Week

Get Ready for the New Small Drone Rule!

Mentioned

International Drone Expo, December 9-10, 2016 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. IDE draws over 100 international exhibitors and more than 3,500 buyers from around the world. It’s a two-day event that features an exhibit floor displaying a variety of drones, parts, and services for all the commercial applications. A commercial drone conference is also hosted at IDE. New this year will be IDE’s first annual drone racing event.

BayRC.net – A community of R/C enthusiasts and professionals.

Santa Cruz County RC Bees – People who enjoy participating in the sport of radio control aircraft modeling.

 

UAV148 Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy

A manned aircraft manufacturer looks ahead to UAS, whale-watching drones, ADS-B for UAS, a report on U.S. drone retail sales, and the U.S. Commerce Department issues privacy guidelines.

News

Air Tractor® Makes Entry into the UAS Market – Acquires Yield Defender

Air Tractor, Inc. produces a number of manned agricultural aircraft: 400, 500, 600 and 800-gallon capacity airplanes powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turbine engines. But they’ve seen the future, and it’s unmanned, so they’ve purchased Hangar 78 UAV and its Yield Defender unmanned aerial system.

Yield Defender DronesAir Tractor President Jim Hirsch says, “We have done our research, and it’s clear that aggressively investing and further developing unmanned aerial systems into agriculture will enable Air Tractor to remain an industry leader and provide the latest technology to ag producers as UAS capabilities mature and are integrated into the industry.”
Yield Defender UAS systems are engineered for the agriculture industry. Their UAS has Near Infrared (NIR) sensors, thermal imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology.

PWWA looks toward regulations of whale watching drones

The Pacific Whale Watch Association wants to make sure whales remain wild. They recognize the research value of drones, but they don’t know if hobby drones disturb whales. Additionally, they say current laws are vague or don’t exist. For now, PWWA asks drone operators to follow the Whale Wise Guidelines: stay at least 200 yards outside the perimeter of a whale or pod, and more than 400 yards from the path of a traveling pod.

Obstacles Appear to Extending GPS-Based ADS-B for UAV Operations

Inside GNSS published a comprehensive article that looks at issues and possible solutions for using the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system on unmanned aircraft. The FAA has mandated installation of the ADS-B system in manned aircraft by 2020.

Obstacles to using ADS-B on UAVs include: cost, weight, and large numbers of drone flights. Also, many areas in the U.S. do not have ADS-B coverage below 500 feet.

Harris Corporation, the FAA’s prime contractor for ADS-B, announced ADS-B Xtend, a dual-band receiver and relay system that can be installed in areas without close-to-the-ground ADS-B capabilities. It provides UAV operators with aircraft tracking data, maps, and weather information.

Harris is partnering with PrecisionHawk to include information from the Low Altitude Tracking and Avoidance System or LATAS, which uses cellular networks. The Xtend ground receivers have a 150-mile range, and they can be attached to existing structures or even to mobile vehicles for roaming coverage.

Drone dollar sales for the past 12 months were three times higher than sales from prior year

Top selling drone brandsRetail research firm The NPD Group released a report that says for the twelve months ending in April, drone sales have grown 224 percent year-over-year to nearly $200 million.

Drones with 4K cameras accounted for more than one-third of dollar sales, and drones with built-in GPS accounted for 64 percent of revenue. Drones with an average price greater than $500 accounted for 56 percent of dollar sales and drones sold during the 2015 holiday season increased 445 percent from the prior year.

Privacy fears: Panel has advice for drone operators

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has released the 8-page Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability. [PDF] The best practices are directed to both commercial and non-commercial drone users.

The document describes voluntary best practices, many relating to the collection of “Covered Data,” or information collected by a UAS that identifies a particular person. Due to First Amendment issues, the guidelines do not apply to newsgathering and news reporting organizations. The appendix lists eight guidelines for “Neighborly Drone Use.”

Video of the Week

Drone Roof Inspection

In this video, listener Ken Krantz uses a drone to inspect his solar panels and pool heating apparatus, with a little humor thrown in. The inspection actually revealed a broken item in need of repair. Ken tells us, “I should point out that, before this flight, I called my local tower and filled out a DROTAM that included the time of my flight, the max altitude (I specified 150’) and a number I could be reached at should they need to retract the DROTAM permission. AND, of course, I have an FAA UAS registration number affixed to the craft.”

Mentioned

UAV Propulsion Tech is a sponsor of The UAV Digest, and President Bob Schmidt has created a LinkedIn group called UAV Tech, “a networking group for technical people in the unmanned aerial vehicle industry. It will focus on advanced technology for UAV’s like: propulsion, payloads, servos, autopilots, sense/avoid, launch/recovery, generators, parachutes, airframes, materials, applications, and testing.” Group membership is by request.

New drone racing sport taking off in Utah

Patrick sent us this article that describes how a man who bought a toy quadcopter for his son ended up designing custom drones and became involved with Drones, Etc., an online business founded in early 2013 by two professional aerial enthusiasts.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

UAV108 Drone Sightings by Manned Aircraft Pilots on the Rise

Google Project WingReports of unmanned aircraft sightings by pilots on the rise, FPV racing gets a financial boost, Google tests package delivery, proliferation of rogue drones, and knocking down drones with light, sound, and shotguns.

News

Pilot Reports of Close Calls With Drones Soar in 2015

According to the FAA, pilots reported 238 unmanned aircraft sightings in 2014. Through August 9, 2015, more that 650 sightings had been reported at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet. The FAA is doing four things:

  • The FAA is working with industry partners through the “Know Before You Fly” campaign to educate unmanned aircraft users about where they can operate within the rules. The Campaign was founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), and the Small UAV Coalition.
  • The FAA is supporting the “If You Fly, We Can’t” efforts to help reduce interference with firefighting operations.
  • The FAA is working with law enforcement officials to identify and investigate unauthorized unmanned aircraft operations.
  • The FAA is encouraging the public to report unauthorized drone operations to local law enforcement.

Drone roundtable: Cooling down the UAV hype

Fortune gathered up a roundtable of drone experts, and reported on their comments concerning the sUAS NPRM, the Section 333 exemption process, regulations, and obstacles to airspace integration.

Drone racing league receives a $1 million investment from Miami Dolphins owner

Billionaire Miami Dolphins owner and billionaire property developer Stephen Ross has invested $1 million in the startup The Drone Racing League. CEO of the new League ,Nick Horbaczewski, has previous experience producing sporting events, and is planning to hold the first race later this year. They hope to turn FPV racing into a significant spectator sport.

Google is testing drones in US airspace by piggybacking on NASA exemption

According to the Guardian, Google has been testing its Project Wing drone delivery system for over a year in US airspace under NASA’s Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). Google intends to demonstrate the use of cellphone signals for automatic air traffic control. This might involve using cellphone frequencies to file flight plans and receive direction from air traffic control systems.

Boeing shoots down UAV with 2 kW laser

As a part of exercise Black Dart, an anti-UAS exercise took place at Point Mugu in California. Boeing used its Compact Laser Weapon System (CLWS) with a two kilowatt laser to shoot down a UAV by holding  a beam on its tail for 10 to 15 seconds. It was guided by an infrared sensor with a range of up to 40 kilometers.

Sounds can knock drones out of the sky

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has been looking at the effects of resonance on the inexpensive gyroscopes used in drones. Researchers found that some gyroscopes could be forced to resonate at frequencies that caused them to generate erroneous outputs, causing the drones to fail.

Videos of the Week

Will Sutton: Homefree (Freerunning the Isle of Man)

Sent to us by Rob in Perth, this impressive video of freerunner Will Sutton was filmed from an octocopter.

When Animals Silence the Drones

@dronemama found this compilation video of animals taking down drones. It includes the recent video Eagle punches drone out of sky.

Listener Feedback

Listener David takes us to task on our comments in Episode 103 on Fly4Me gets FAA approval, launches ‘Uber for drones’. Is Fly4Me expanding its business on the basis of its Section 333 exemption, or not?

Kenneth sends us Man Shoots Down a Drone with a Shotgun and wonders if there will be a business model some day to equip homes with automated drones that are used to chase other drones off your property! We talk about this growing trend where property owners are taking “defensive” action.

Ron writes to us with some information and advice about the use of LiPo batteries in hobby applications like quadcopters. These batteries can be extremely dangerous if not stored, used, and charged properly. We advise all LiPo battery users to be informed and heed all safety procedures.

Chad sent us Boys flying high in Jamestown that describes some youngsters who are doing shoots with a DJI Phantom 3 and a camera for real estate companies, and getting paid for it. While you could laud the boys for their industriousness, you might also question the legality of their commercial activity.

Charles sent in Rogue drones a growing nuisance across the U.S. where we see that stories about rogue drone operators are showing up with alarming frequency. They have impeded firefighting efforts, buzzed commercial aircraft, crashed into objects, and injured people. FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta says, “I’m definitely getting much more concerned about it.” and that the FAA will adopt “more stringent enforcement” measures in cooperation with law enforcement.

UAV087 FAA Streamlines COA Process

Draganflyer X6A new FAA policy streamlines the Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) process, an unmanned aircraft Business Park is born, a Senator proposes a “Commercial UAV Modernization Act,” and drones used at a golf tournament, or not.

News

FAA Streamlines UAS COAs for Section 333

The FAA says they will grant a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for “flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with a Section 333 exemption for aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds, operate during daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions, operate within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilots, and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports.”

Drones’ buzz to replace roar of Air Force giants in North Dakota

Claimed to be “the first commercial UAS Business and Aviation Park in the nation,” Grand Sky is open and taking applications for build-to-suit site occupancy. Located on Grand Forks AFB, and executed in partnership with Grand Forks County, North Dakota, Grand Sky is looking for tenants and owner occupants who will engage in UAS testing, evaluation, research, development, and operations.

County bans drones during Masters Tournament at Augusta

In an effort to prevent drones from interfering with the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, commissioners approved a county-wide ban on launching or operating drones between April 2 and April 13. Prior to being amended, the ban originally would have affected all drones at any time in areas with dwellings, congested areas, at sporting events, and in heavily populated parks.

Golf Channel Experiments with a Drone at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

The FAA approved the use of a drone at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Golf Channel used a drone to capture footage before the event.

What we should not do with drone regulation

The author of this article proposes the use of geo-fencing, detection and tracking systems for high security areas, and interceptor drones with nets to capture invading drones.

Senator Cory Booker To Introduce Commercial Drone Legislation Following FAA’s Amazon Ruling

Senator Booker’s proposed “Commercial UAV Modernization Act” is meant to allow certain commercial operations until the final FAA regulations are issued. These temporary rules would allow sUAS to perform missions such as construction site surveys or crop mapping. The bill also calls for a new “Deputy Associate Administrator for Unmanned Aircraft” to report to the head of the FAA and the Secretary of Transportation.

Video of the Week

You Need to Comment on the #NPRM

Victor Villegas, aka DroneSinger, calls himself the “Weird Al” Yankovic of drones. He creates drone songs to bring attention to drone issues and drone culture. This musical parody song encourages drone fans to comment on the FAA’s NPRM for commercial use of sUAS.

@dronemama says:  Be sure to read and comment on the NPRM.

Mentioned

Drone racing on the rise

FPV drones race at 150 km/hr an empty car park (parking garage) at night.