Tag Archives: Google

UAV158 Fly Like a Bird

Drones and law enforcement, Disney and Google drone patents, a call for anti-drone systems, and a drone that looks and flys like a drone.

The Bionic Bird

The Bionic Bird

News

Modesto Police Unveil New Crime-Fighting Drones

The Modesto, California police department has a DJI Phantom painted like a patrol car and recently they used it to track a suspected robber. Three officer pilots will use the drones for official police work only. Fox News reports: “The Modesto Police Department said their drone footage is subject to the same rules as their officers’ body cameras.”

Cops get eyes in the sky as N.J. county deputizes drones

A New Jersey county has an exemption to operate drones for emergency response missions. Initially, there was just one pilot – a police officer with a fixed-wing pilot’s license. But now, other public officials can fly drones after taking an aviation ground school class at a local college. They have used drones to search for a homicide suspect, a missing person, and a berm breach.

1st-ever civilian drone death? Woman killed in police pursuit after UAV spotted over prison

Police received a report of a drone flying over Wandsworth prison in England. Officers chased a car seen leaving the scene, which crashed and the driver, a woman in her 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene.  She may be the first person to die in a non-military drone-related incident.

Disney Might Be Building Drones To Use In Its Theme Parks

Disney applied for three drone-related patents:

  1. Aerial Display System with Floating Pixels, which contemplates using drones as floating pixels (or flixels) that could replace fireworks.
  2. Aerial Display System with Floating Projection Screens, which describes drones that can carry a full-sized projector and a screen for images and video.
  3. Aerial Display System with Marionettes Articulated and Supported by Airborne Devices, which explains a swarm of multicopter drones operating marionettes and puppets.

Google wants to have drones buzzing around offices, projecting our faces at meetings

Google was awarded a patent (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Collaboration) for a small drone fitted with a projector and optionally a small screen that can be used as a mobile telepresence system in an office environment.

Interior Ministry announces tender for drone-killer system

Czech police don’t have a way to bring rogue drones down, so the Czech Interior Ministry has announced a public tender for an anti-drone system. It would be used to take down drones in no-fly zones and other restricted areas.

This Startup Wants to Build a Drone-Proof Fence to Protect Your Property

The founder of Drone Go Home believes that the proliferation of inexpensive consumer drones will lead to the need for electronic perimeter fences around properties, such as prisons, power grids, and backyards. The company has a video, Drone Go Home Proof of Concept Demonstration.

Video of the Week

This drone looks and flies just like a bird

The Bionic Bird is a drone designed to look and fly just like a real bird. The drone can fly up to 12 miles per hour for 10 minutes at a time. A patented control system uses wing bending, enabling fast and instantaneous maneuvers.

 

UAV121 UAS Registration Update

The Facebook Aquila 1

Aquila 1 courtesy Facebook

“Polivation” policy briefing, UAS registration update, multicopters crash in Seattle, charges of misrepresenting UAS to the US Government, Google and Facebook want to be ISPs, and the tower industry looks ahead to UAS.

Implementing Polivation to Achieve Autonomy: A Path Forward

Hogan Lovells UAS GroupDavid tells us about the policy briefing he attended where panelists addressed issues of “polivation,” the intersection of policy making and innovation. Held at the City Club of Washington (D.C.) on November 12, 2015, the event was moderated by Gloria Story Dittus, chairman of Story Partners, a leading strategic communications firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. The panelists were:

  • John Verdi [PDF], Director of Privacy Initiatives, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S.Department of Commerce
  • Lisa Ellman, Partner, Hogan Lovells and co-chair of the firm’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Group.
  • Gretchen West, Senior Advisor, Hogan Lovells, focusing on innovation and technology and a member of the firm’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Group in Silicon Valley.
  • Travis Mason, Public Policy and Government Relations, Google[x].

UAS Registration Task Force Update

Day 2 Update

“The discussion focused on developing and recommending a registration process, how to prove the UAS is registered and how to mark a UAS. The discussion about the registration process focused on the type of system that should be built and the type of information that should be collected.”

Day 3 Update

“The group focused on reaching a consensus on a recommended process for registration. The discussions included how an operator might prove a UAS is registered, how the aircraft would be marked, and how to use the registration process to encourage or require UAS operators to become educated on basic safety rules. The group also continues to gather data and analyze which types of UAS would need to be registered and which would not. The Task Force will now finalize its recommendations for delivery to the FAA Administrator by November 20.”

News

Drone hits Seattle’s huge Ferris wheel; SPD investigating

A drone struck the Seattle Great Wheel, a 175-foot tall ferris wheel. There were no reports of injury or damage, but police confiscated the drone.

Man charged for Seattle drone crash that knocked woman out

Recall that in June, a drone crashed into a building and struck a woman in the head. The operator has been charged with reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor charge with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. The Seattle City Attorney’s Office said the charge is not because it was a drone, but because of the actions taken with the drone.

Met wants a drone register to manage the UAV menace

Drones were a topic at the Web Summit show in Dublin. Chief inspector Nick Aldworth of the Metropolitan Police and Ralph James of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) agreed that Ireland needs a drone registry for security and privacy protection reasons.

Drone Company Misled Military into Buying UAVs that Were Basically Toys: Lawsuit

A motion has been filed in civil court alleging that Florida company Prioria Robotics misrepresented its Maveric UAS, a bird-like, portable, fixed-wing UAV that can be launched by a single-person. According to Prioria, the Maveric is capable of autonomous operation, weighs 2.6 pounds, with a 45-60 minute endurance. The Prioria website describes military, public safety, and commercial applications.

Prioria has won contracts with the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, NASA, and other federal agencies. The Defense Logistics Agency paid $240,000 per Maveric system. UAS vendor and Maveric retailer Condor Aerial says the specs are inaccurate and Prioria is charging military-grade prices for what is essentially a hobby drone.

Facebook’s laser drones v Google’s net-beaming balloons

Both Facebook and Google want to provide Internet service to the 57% of the world’s population that isn’t online. Facebook has built the Aquila 1 in England and sent it to an undisclosed location for testing. It’s propeller-driven by four solar-powered motors and made of foam covered with carbon fiber. Google has a drone-based project, but isn’t providing a lot of details. They also have the balloon-based Project Loon.

NATE Unmanned Aerial Systems Committee looks to prevent tragedies

The National Association of Tower Erectors established an Unmanned Aerial Systems Committee to monitor trends, regulatory concerns, and to make recommendations to NATE about best practices for drone use in the tower industry.

In the following video, host Joey Jackson of Cell Tower News talks with founding members of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Committee, Phil Larsen, President of Telecommunications at HAZON Solutions and Jim Goldwater, Senior Vice President at Bob Lawrence & Associates, Inc.

Video of the Week

Watch World’s First Jet-Powered, 3D Printed UAV Top 150 Mph!

Aurora Flight Sciences teamed up with additive manufacturing company Stratasys to create a jet-powered, 3D printed aircraft.

More at: World’s first jet-powered, 3D-printed UAV debuts at Dubai Airshow

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.

UAV106 UAS Traffic Management

NASA UTM Chart]Observations from the NASA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management Convention, including the Amazon Prime Air proposal for drone traffic management.

Guest

Max Trescott attended the NASA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management Convention (or UTM) and gives us his impressions of the event. Max is a general aviation pilot, a certified flight instructor, an aviation author, and a glass cockpit expert. He also flies quadcopters.

Discussion

The UTM convention was an opportunity for NASA and others to share their visions for managing low altitude commercial drone traffic. Presentations were given by Amazon, Google, Cisco, FAA, NTSB, DOD, California DOT, law enforcement, and others. There were panel discussions, vendor displays, and demonstrations.

Google talked about the role of “Airspace Service Provider” (ASP). Under this concept, UAV operators would file flight plans with an ASP, which would then coordinate these with other ASPs to ensure non-conflicting flights. Google is said they are developing a lightweight, low-cost dual band ADS-B transceiver. FreeFlight Systems showed prototype weighing just 215 grams.

Amazon details its plan for how drones can fly safely over U.S. skies

Amazon drone management proposal

Amazon Prime Air vice president Gur Kimchi described Amazon’s idea for a drone air traffic management system. In Amazon’s view, drones with different capabilities would have different airspace rights, with an underlying control system managing it all.

Airspace under 200 feet would be designated for low-speed local traffic. Drones in that zone wouldn’t require the most sophisticated collision-avoidance technology. Airspace from 200-400 feet would be for high-speed transit – the highway for drones. Sophisticated sense-and-avoid technology would be a requirement there. Finally, a no-fly buffer zone would exist from 400 to 500 feet.

UTM builds

As a technology enabler, NASA is developing an airspace management control system. They plan four “builds” of the software over the next 4 years. Build 1 is a reservation system for exclusive access to the airspace and is due out August 2015. The culminating Build 4 in March 2019 would manage beyond line-of-sight drone flights in congested urban areas.

UAV098 HeliVideo to Provide Footage at U.S. Open

The HeliVideo fleet

HeliVideo to cover U.S. Open, commercial drone market share, China uses drone to catch cheaters, using TV signals to sense aircraft, a Google drone patent, and UAS full type certificates.

News

How FOX Sports will use drones at the U.S. Open, and why the FAA is watching

FOX Sports is using octocopters from Austin-based HeliVideo to cover the golf championship at Chambers Bay. HeliVideo says they provide “FAA approved cinematography for television and film.” The HeliVideo fleet includes a Small Sensor Hexacopter with a Panasonic Lumix GH3, a Full Frame Octocopter sporting a Canon 5D Mark 3, an EPIC 6k Dragon Octocopter, and an EPIC 6k Dragon Single blade helicopter.

For the golf tournament, HeliVideo is bringing a four-man team and more than $1 million in equipment — including the DJI Spreading Wings 1000 drone. HeliVideo received their exemption last September. An authorized, licensed pilot will fly the drones, while a visual observer will keep tabs on the devices at all times.

Forty eight percent of commercial drone platforms in the USA made by DJI

sUAS News reports that DJI has 48.4% of the “commercially licenced platforms” in service. AeroVironment follows with 12.1%, 3DR with 7.6%, and Precision Hawk with 3.9% This is from a total population of 380 platforms.

Authorizations Granted Via Section 333 Exemptions

This list from the FAA shows Petitioners, Grant Issue Date, Operation/Mission, and the Authorizations document.

China Uses a Drone to Curb Cheating on College Placement Exams

The National College Entrance Exams in China are critical to the future success of the 9.5 million students who take the 2-3 day test. This has led to cheating schemes where students send exam questions out to others, who then transmit answers back to the student.

Now Chinese education authorities are fighting back with a drone. It flies over testing centers and scans for signals being sent to devices brought in by students. The drone is reported to be about the size of a gas station pump and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

TV signals a possible alternative to radar

Air traffic control company NATS has been working with Thales and contract R&D company Roke Manor to see if television transmission signals could be used to detect and direct aircraft. In a trial conducted over London, more than 30 aircraft were tracked at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet.

Google Working On Fleet of Drone Ambulances To Save Your Life, Reveals a Newly Granted Patent

Google was granted United States Patent 9,051,043 titled “Providing emergency medical services using unmanned aerial vehicles.” It provides for a fleet of UAVs configured to: identify remote medical situations, determine the target location, select a UAV with the proper configuration, and deploy the UAV to the target location to provide medical support. Sounds a lot like the Amazon drone delivery patent.

FAA Working Eight UAS Full Type Certificates

A type certificate would allow a UAS manufacturer to fly the aircraft throughout U.S. airspace. Larger UASs like the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle and AeroVironment’s Puma fly under type certificates issued in the Restricted category. Experimental type certificates have been issued to other UASs which generally prohibit commercial uses. There are no type certificate requirements for UASs under 55 pounds.

Mentioned

Expert: Drones Causing Major Aviation Disasters Is ‘A Question Of When It’s Going To Happen, Not If’

David provides expert opinion to CBS DC.

UAV097 Drone Lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht

Boeing patents drones that can be charged midair, from PatentYogiConversation with drone lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht, a NASA and Verizon UAS tracking system, the Google Internet HALE drone crashes, and Boeing patents a drone charging concept.

Guest

Jonathan Rupprecht, Esq.In December 2014, Jonathan Rupprecht formed Rupprecht Law, a firm providing legal services for operators of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Jonathan authored a book on the law in the United States pertaining to unmanned aircraft called Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them. He later was an advisor for one of the amicus briefs for the Huerta v. Pirker case.

We talk with Jonathan about the state of drone law, areas that need to be figured out (like export control, frequency allocation, federal versus local jurisdiction), and what lawyers can offer (such as support for building the business plan.) Jonathan discusses how issues like privacy might already be covered under existing laws, the open issue of navigable airspace, and the notice and comment process.  We also consider building safety awareness among the general drone-flying public.

Jonathan Rupprecht is a commercial pilot for single and multi-engine aircraft ratings and also a flight instructor for airplanes and instruments. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Magna Cum Laude, and a Juris Doctor from Florida International University School of Law.

The first book led into him being requested to be a co-author on an American Bar Association book called Unmanned Aircraft in the National Airspace: Critical Issues, Technology, and the Law. Jonathan wrote on administrative law, the FAA rule making process, and the special rule on unmanned aircraft.

News

NASA Developing Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management

NASA and Verizon plan to monitor US drone network from phone towers

The NASA Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management system, or UTM, is a  cloud-based concept to manage air traffic operated beyond visual line of sight at low altitudes. UTM Principal Investigator Dr. Parimal Kopardekar says, “We need a way to organize the UAS traffic, whether that’s by crisscrossing or with a bike lane or HOV lane kind of construct. The system can make these things happen based on demand. UTM is a virtual system.”

To learn more, the Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents and learned that last year telecom company Verizon signed an agreement with NASA “to jointly explore whether cell towers … could support communications and surveillance of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at low altitudes.”

Google’s High-Flying Internet Drone Crashed in New Mexico Weeks Ago

The Solara 50 drone built by Google-owned Titan Aerospace crashed shortly after takeoff. The solar powered, 50 foot wingspan drone is designed to linger at 65,000 feet and provide Internet connectivity. The NTSB is investigating.

Boeing patents system for airborne drone charging

The Boeing patent is titled, “Autonomous aircraft with disconnectable tether” and describes a system where drones drop tethers to ground-based charging stations.

Video of the Week

Sky Pixel LA – SBC Flooding Part 1

Listener Heath sent in the link to this video showing some of the flooding around the Shreveport, Louisiana area. It’s a very artistic portrayal of a very serious situation. Part 2 is more of a look at the effect of the flooding on people.

Mentioned

Here and There June 3, 2015 Max Flight

Max appeared on the KSFR 101.1FM, Santa Fe Public Radio show, Here and There with journalism pro Dave Marash. They talked about drones, applications, regulatory issues, privacy, and more.

Enrique Iglesias Undergoes Hand Surgery After Drone Accident

Singer Enrique Iglesias catches a quadcopter with his hand in his act. Things didn’t go so well for Iglesias in the Tijuana performance.

Extreme Sandbox

Extreme Sandbox in Hastings, Minnesota opened an extreme adventure attraction called RC Adventure where visitors can operate DJI Phantom 2 drones on obstacle courses.

UAV061 Regs, Regs, and More FAA Regs

Tim’s DJI Phantom 2

Production companies get sUAS exemptions, FAA wants N-numbers for drones, new chip offers possibility of smarter UAS controllers, Google wants to test Internet service, and DHL will provide package delivery.

Guest

Guest Tim Trott has a broadcast production background, but today at Tim Trott Productions, he creates video for a range of services, including real estate tours, industrial videos, training DVD’s, commercials, web and conference/trade show videos, and industrial productions.

Southern Helicam is the video production company owned and operated by Tim Trott Productions, with offices in central and northwest Florida.

See Video Does it Better for Tim’s take on online video marketing, and the accompanying YouTube page. Also Tim’s posts that we talked about: Section 333: The Crack In The Wall… and Here Come The Section 333 Exemption Petitions which invites readers to answer some timely and relevant questions about licensing. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimTrott.

News

FAA Approves Exemption Allowing Drones to Fly on Movie Sets

The FAA gave permission for six production companies to use sUAS for filming movies and television commercials.

Under the exemptions, the aircraft must be flown under 400 feet, in line of sight, on closed sets, and with a certified pilot.

Google Wants Internet Broadcasting Drones, Plans To Run Tests In New Mexico

Google purchased electric UAV maker Titan Aerospace earlier this year, as part of their “Internet in the sky” strategy.

Now Google has filed an application with the U.S. FCC to test their technology at a site south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The application mentions the Titan acquisition, but what they want to test is redacted.

DHL testing drone for delivering parcels to island off coast of Germany

Trials are set to begin of “parcelcopter” deliveries to the island of Juist, 12 km off the north coast of Germany.

The German transport ministry and air traffic control authority have given DHL permission to test the drone for 15 – 30 minute flights through a restricted flight area.

Intel and 3D Robotics Working to Make Smarter Drones

Earlier this year, Intel announced the $50 Edison computer on a chip. It runs Linux, has 1GB of ram, a 500Mhz dual core processor, with Bluetooth, and WiFi.

Reportedly, 3D Robotics is looking to bring Edison to their existing Pixhawk autopilot system.

FAA Issues Requirement for All UAS to Show Aircraft Registration Number

The FAA has decided that commercial UAS (those operating under a COA) must carry registration numbers, just like manned aircraft.

These “N-numbers” must be “registered and marked prior to COA application,” according to an email sent by the FAA to the industry.

Addendum: Tim notes that all you need to get an N number is $20. See the FAA Forming an N-Number page.

FAA warning: Keep your drones grounded during UN summit

This week the United Nations Climate Summit was held at the organization’s headquarters in New York.

As with other kinds of events, the FAA issued a TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) over parts of New Jersey and New York.

That’s not unusual. But what was unusual was that for the first time, the FAA made it a point to specifically mention that the TFR also applied to drone operators.

 3D Pocketcopter – the flying camera

3DPocketcopter This small, tubular-shaped copter features two counter-rotating rotors, a downward-facing camera for stills or video, and control by smartphone via WiFi.

 

 

The Indiegogo project is closed, after raising €113,927 of a €15,000 goal.

Dutch Boy Turns Dead Pet Rat Into Flying Tri-Copter

When Ratjetoe the pet rat died, he was stuffed. Now he lives on as a tri-copter.

@DroneMama says, “OK, that’s gross.”

Video of the Week

SPARKED: A Live Interaction Between Humans and Quadcopters

Cirque du Soleil has developed a short film featuring 10 quadcopters in a flying dance performance. SPARKED: Behind the Technology gives you a peek at how the video was produced.

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.”