Tag Archives: General Atomics

UAV171 UAS Flights Over Unsheltered People

Rulemaking for sUAS flights over people moves forward, fuel cell-powered UAVs, a drone detection system, a Predator for humanitarian relief, drones flying in formation, and autonomous aircraft collaboration.

H3 Dynamics Hywing

Hywing long endurance fixed-wing UAV demonstrator, courtesy H3 Dynamics

News

Big News: Proposed Small UAS Rule for Flights Over People at White House for Review

Hogan Lovells reports that the FAA sent to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) the proposed rulemaking for the operation of sUAS over unsheltered people not directly participating in the operation. OIRA reviews draft regulations before they are implemented and any member of the public can request a meeting with the agency to discuss the proposed rule.

UAV Update: Fuel cells, Droneboxes and hostile drones

This article is a round-up of a number of newsworthy drone stories, including:

Singapore energy storage company H3 Dynamics has applied fuel cell technology to its Hywings UAV and claims up to 10 hours flight endurance. The company also created Dronebox that can be used as a remote base station for drones. Dronebox can recharge drone using solar panels, and offers the possibility for stationing drones for autonomous missions, like crop surveys.

Elbit Systems in Israel announced ReDrone which detects, tracks, and takes out drones. The system can determine the direction of the drone and the operator, operates over 360 degrees and provides real-time situational awareness of multiple drones.

General Atomics is offering the Angel One for humanitarian relief missions. Based on the Predator-C Avenger UAV, it can carry up to 8,500 pounds of Humanitarian Daily Ration packets (HDRs) for 3,400 people

AeroVironment is looking to the commercial market with its Quantix vertical takeoff and landing quadrotor drone. Controlled with an Android tablet, data can subsequently be processed within the AeroVironment Decision Support System (AV DSS). Availability is expected by spring 2017.

Drexel University Student Charged After Drone Flies Over Center City Protesters

A drone was observed flying over 300 protesters marching in Philadelphia. Police and news helicopters followed the drone which led them to a man operating the drone from a rooftop. A SWAT team took a 20-year-old man into custody inside the building. He could face various charges,  including recklessly endangering another person and risking a catastrophe.

Disney’s Latest Attraction? 300 Drones Flying in Formation

The “Starbright Holidays” in Orlando will feature 300 Intel Shooting Star quadcopters with LED lights. Each weighs a little over half a pound and is constructed of soft materials such as plastics and foam. The drones are assigned light show roles only after each has been queried by the system to assess details like battery level and GPS signal. Then each gets its assignment and an operator deploys them all with the push of a button.

Human-Machine Teams: Lockheed Martin UAS and Optionally-Piloted Helicopters Validate Firefighting and Search-and-Rescue Capabilities

Lockheed Martin conducted a demonstration of firefighting and search-and-rescue capability using four autonomous vehicles. The optionally-piloted Kaman K-MAX, the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), the Indago quadrotor, and a Desert Hawk 3.1 fixed wing UAS worked collaboratively. Indago located hot spots, sent that information to an operator who directed the K-MAX to autonomously retrieve water from a pond and drop it on the fire. Then, the Desert Hawk located the missing person, and the K-MAX and SARA completed the search and rescue mission.

Video of the Week

Lockheed Martin Autonomous Aircraft Conduct Firefighting, Rescue Mission

 

UAV115 FAA Misses UAS Integration Date

Firefighting drone by FliteTest

Industry reacts to FAA missing the UAS integration deadline, lasers on drones, UAS testing at Wallops Island, a million drones for the holidays, and interviews from UAS Industry Days 2015.

News

Drones Armed With High-Energy Lasers May Arrive In 2017

Predator and Reaper manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is looking at mounting a 150-kilowatt solid-state laser onto its Avenger drone, also known as the Predator-C. This could be ready in 2017.

NASA Wallops looks to bump up drone traffic

NASA and the state of Virginia are working together on a plan to build a 3,000 foot runway for drones on Wallops Island. This UAS test range is envisioned to support commercial, government, and academic users.

FAA Fears That 1 Million Drones Could Be Sold This Holiday Season

According to Aviation Week, the FAA’s Rich Swayze says the Agency expects as many as one million UAVs to be sold during this year’s holiday season. That’s a lot of opportunity for misuse of unmanned aircraft.

AUVSI and 28 Organizations Mark Missed FAA Deadline for UAS Integration

The congressionally mandated deadline for the FAA to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System was Sept. 30, 2015. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and 28 others sent a letter [PDF] to the FAA, stating in part:

“While the FAA has hit some milestones in the integration process, it has yet to finalize small UAS rules, let alone facilitate the full integration of UAS that Congress contemplated in 2012. The increasing number of businesses applying for Section 333 exemptions demonstrates the pent-up demand for commercial UAS operations and the immediate need for a regulatory framework.”

“In the absence of regulations, American businesses and innovators are left sitting on the sidelines or operating under a restrictive exemption process.”

“On behalf of businesses across a wide range of industry sectors in the United States, we urge the FAA to use all available means to finalize the small UAS rules immediately without any further delays and move ahead with the next regulatory steps on the path for integrating all UAS into the NAS. Once this happens, we will have an established framework for UAS operations that will do away with the case-by-case system of approvals, reducing the barriers to commercial UAS operations. And importantly, having more trained commercial operators will create a culture of safety that helps deter careless and reckless behavior.”

Interviews from UAS Industry Days

We recorded a number of interviews at the NUAIR Alliance UAS Test Site, including these two about testing done at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York:

Thomas Washington

Manager of Flight Test Operations, Aurora Flight Sciences. The Centaur (DA 42) optionally piloted aircraft was tested previously at Griffiss for their unmanned flight test campaign.

John Reade

A computer scientist at Quanterion working with AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory) and two Desert Hawk III UAVs from Lockheed Martin doing collision avoidance testing in the “triangle” at Griffiss. Quanterion has also developed simulation software that evaluates the interactions of manned and unmanned aircraft in shared airspace.

Videos of the Week

Fire Fighting Drone | Flite Test

The Firecopter is a custom-made Y-6 multi-rotor equipped with a fire extinguisher for fighting fires from the air. From Flite Test.

Esperance whale encounter captures hearts across Australia

Beautiful footage of amazing marine mammals, but before you try this, review Approaching whales and dolphins in NSW and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Marine Mammals) Regulation 2006.

Approaching whales and dolphins in NSW

UAV113 Think First, Launch Second

Think Before You LaunchLockheed Martin adds drone flight plans to pilot briefings, the AMA takes a closer look at FAA drone sightings data, Canadian farmers don’t want onerous regulations, California legislators want more drone laws, InterDrone product announcements, and the Reaper gets a long-range update package.

Think Before You Launch

Think Before You Launch (TBYL) is an awareness campaign that seeks to educate both manned and unmanned aircraft operators about the hazards in the low-altitude environment. This alliance of UAS and aviation stakeholders wants to improve aviation safety and educate users about the safe and responsible operation and integration of UAS. See the TBYL Infographic [PDF].

News

Graphical drone briefing developed

Lockheed Martin adds unmanned flight plans to the weather information, NOTAMs, TAFs, and METARs already in the Next Generation Briefings online flight planning tool.

Drone hobbyists find flaws in “close call” reports to FAA from other aircraft

AMA Responds to the FAA’s Drone Sighting Report

The Academy of Model Aeronautics took a closer look at the reports of 764 close-call incidents with drones reported by the FAA in August (Pilot Reports of Close Calls With Drones Soar in 2015).

According to the AMA report New AMA Analysis: FAA Data Reveals Complex Picture of U.S. Drone Activity [PDF], the FAA data (FAA Releases Pilot UAS Reports) shows that only 27 incidents were called “near misses” by the pilots and evasive action was taken 10 times.

Some altitudes reported by pilots were too high for a UAV (19,000 – 51,000 feet) and the data included sightings of public agencies and commercial operators, as well as military flights.

The AMA says:

  • Some sightings appear to involve people flying responsibly and within the FAA’s current recreational guidelines.
  • Many things in the air – from balloons and birds to model rockets and mini blimps – are mistaken for, or reported as, drone sightings even when they are not.
  • A number of sightings have occurred over or around stadium events, wildfires, power plants and other critical infrastructure. These raise different concerns from pilot sightings.
  • In almost 20 percent (142) of the reports, local law enforcement either wasn’t notified or it was unknown whether local law enforcement was notified.

KAP doesn’t want new UAV regs to unnecessarily ground farmers

Keystone Agricultural Producers of Manitoba (KAP) president Dan Mazier views drones as tools for farmers, and recognizes the need for regulations, but he doesn’t want them to be onerous. Mazier says, “KAP would like dialogue before they (Transport Canada) make regulations. If they are going to put a certain regulation in, at least consult farm groups or farmers and ask how they can work with it.”

Transport Canada says it will amend regulatory requirements for UAVs in 2016 and proposes to create UAV classifications, establish aircraft marking and registration requirements, address personnel licensing and training and create flight rules.

Bill on drones heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk

Senate Bill 168 has passed the California legislature and was sent to Governor Jerry Brown for consideration. This legislation seeks to address problems seen when drones interfere with emergency responders like firefighters. It would increase the fines for drone operators who interfere with emergency responders, and it would grant immunity to emergency responders who damage or destroy unmanned aircraft during emergency operations.

Other legislation in the pipeline at the Federal level introduced by California Legislators::

  • S. 1608, the Consumer Drone Safety Act, requires safety features on consumer drones and strengthens FAA regulations that regulate drone operation.

Reaper ER Extends RPA Missions to +33 Hours

A Reaper’s maximum endurance can grow from 27 hours to 33-35 hours by installing two wing-mounted fuel tanks as a field-retrofittable package. Other modifications to accommodate the higher gross weight include an alcohol/water injection system, a four-bladed propeller, and a stronger landing gear system. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. says the Reaper ER has been operationally fielded by the U.S. Air Force.

TWiT Live Specials #254: InterDrone Conference 2015

In this 48 minute video, Fr. Robert Ballecer SJ from the Know How maker video podcast, shows us product announcements from the InterDrone 2015 conference.

Video of the Week

Blarney Castle in County Cook

Professor Vanderhoof found this stunning video from Tourism Ireland.

Mentioned

Man fined after flying drones over Premier League stadiums

A man was fined £1,800 and banned from buying or using a drone for two years for flying over sporting events and London landmarks.

UAV059 Sense and Avoid

NASA Predator B Unmanned Science and Research Aircraft SystemSense and Avoid by NASA and General Atomics, South African rules by 2015, Amazon’s drone page, package delivery by Flirtey and Google, and cease and desist letters from the FAA.

Guest

Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., (USMC-Ret.), the NASA Administrator since July, 2009.

In this clip from a longer interview recorded for the Airplane Geeks podcast, Charlie talks about NASA’s activity to develop autonomous flight technologies with the UAS test sites, focusing on sense and avoid. NASA is looking at low altitude sUAS air traffic control, and they are finalizing an agreement with Google on sense and avoid technology for package delivery systems. NASA wants to help the FAA get out ahead of the developing market.

News

General Atomics Readies for ‘Detect and Avoid’ Demo

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is developing aircraft detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems for unmanned aircraft. First, they’ll conduct software regression and hardware functional testing on their Predator B at the company’s flight operations facility in Palmdale, California.

Then, they’ll move the system to the NASA Predator B Unmanned Science and Research Aircraft System named “Ikhana,” a Native American Choctaw word meaning intelligent, conscious, or aware. Five weeks of collision avoidance trials will be performed where the Predator will be flown against “intruder” aircraft.

CAA on track to introduce UAV regulations by March 2015

The South African Civil Aviation Authority says it will finalize UAV regulations by March, 2015.

The CAA says until then, UAV operation in civil airspace is illegal and operators could be subject to a fine or up to ten years in prison, or both. Flying on private land or in restricted airspace is also illegal.

However, the director and chairman of the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of South Africa (CUAASA) says you cannot be fined by the CAA because there are no laws in place.

Guess Which Giant Retailer Has Officially Opened Up a “Drone Store”

Amazon.com has officially opened a “Drone Store” featuring the DJI Phantom and the Parrot Drone. Coming soon is the TechJect Dragonfly, a “Wi-Fi enabled robotic insect.”

Mike Fortin, the CEO of CineDrones thinks selling hobby-grade equipment without emphasizing education or safety is irresponsible. But Amazon’s Drone Store web page has a “Fly Responsibly” link that takes you to more “links for informational purposes only:”

Drone Startup Flirtey Partners with The University of Nevada, Reno To Push UAV Delivery Forward

In October 2013, Flirtey started drone delivery tests in Australia. They now have more than a hundred successful test deliveries of textbooks, with its partner Zookal, a company that sells textbooks online.

Now Flirtey has teamed up with UAS research center University of Nevada, Reno. The University gets equity in the company, and Flirtey gets collaboration with the University’s R&D labs for design, manufacture, and research. Flirtey also gets access to the University’s graduate students and indoor flight-testing facilities.

Flirtey is going commercial in New Zealand, which is launching Airshare as a UAV hub where commercial operators can log flight information.

2 Arrested for Flying Drones Near Brooklyn Bridge, US Open: NYPD

The first individual arrested was allegedly flying over the Brooklyn Bridge. He was reported to police by transit workers. The man was visiting from Russia.

The second arrest was for an overflight of the National Tennis Center, hosting the U.S. Open.  The operator, a filmmaker, reportedly stated that he thought he was flying in an “appropriate park space.” The National Tennis Center is a private facility adjacent to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which is a public space.

Undeclared drone batteries sparked plane fire at Melbourne airport

We’ve seen stories about how certain kinds of Lithium-Ion batteries get hot and cause fires on airplanes. Here, a passenger’s hard plastic case in the hold contained Lithium-ion polymer batteries intended to power a remote control drone. Just prior to takeoff, the captain of the Fiji Airways plane detected the smoke from the cargo hold and called a mayday.

FAA Scans the Internet For Drone Users; Sends Cease and Desist Letters

In January, Governmentattic.org made a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA for “copies of any letters, e-mails, or other written or electronic communications requesting or demanding individuals and organizations cease and desist, stop operating, or stop advertising unmanned aerial vehicles.”

The FAA responded with records of 17 “warning letters and e-mails [PDF] sent out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional offices to individuals…” Most of the cease and desist letters went to aerial video companies, but two universities were asked to stop operations associated with drone journalism studies.

The FAA communications list 3 ways under which UAVs can be operated:

  1. Certificate of Authorization (COA)
  2. Experimental Certification
  3. Recreational hobbyists

None allow commercial operation for aerial photography for hire.

Video of the Week

Gawk at Richard Branson’s tropical hideaway via aerial drone

You can’t afford to vacation at this private island, but Sir Richard is pleased to present this aerial tour.

Feedback

Paul Braun of TATTS writes to tell us that, “the Taking Autism To The Sky project (TATTS) was notified by Timothy Reuter of the Washington DC Drone User Group the other day that we are a finalist for the Social Drone Innovation Award.” Watch their Drone Social Innovation Award Submittal video and give them a “like.”