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.
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
At the second meeting of the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) on January 31, 2017, three draft tasking statements were reviewed:
- The roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local governments in regulating and enforcing drone laws.
- 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.
- Funding to offset the cost of supporting unmanned aircraft integration into the nation’s airspace.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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.
Patrick sent us this commercial where pizza delivery drones run amuck.