A new drone racing league takes shape, an unmanned aircraft vehicle traffic management system is planned for Kansas, Northrop Grumman’s MQ-25 drone tanker testbed was spotted, a Phantom landed on an aircraft carrier, DJI responds to issues over data transmission, and drones assist in a rescue mission.
The Pro Aerial League (PAL) is a new drone racing organization that will feature indoor spectator events with six teams, each with six pilots. Pilots will race RIOT 250R Pro racing drones from Thrust-UAV through multiple types of challenges in order to determine the best team in terms of speed, skill, and strategy. The inaugural event is August 19, 2017, at the Xfinity Arena in Everett, Washington.
AirMap announced a partnership with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to deploy the AirMap platform across the state. Their goal is “to open more airspace for drone operations, support Kansas’ growing community of drone operators, and ensure that the skies are safer for all.” The AirMap platform will be available to Kansas airports, state colleges and universities, and government agencies.
AirMap is one of the 12 companies assembled by the FAA for LAANC, the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, providing automated notification for flight in U.S. controlled airspace. A list of the initial 50 airports is available in Coming This Fall: Automated Airspace Authorization at U.S. Airports.
Development contracts were previously awarded to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, and Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray drone. The MQ-25 Stingray is a carrier-launched tanker designed to extend the combat range of carrier aircraft. Aviation Week is now showing a low-quality photograph of what it says is Northrop Grumman’s modified X-47B flying test bed as part of its MQ-25 bid.
A “Black Isle Images” photographer landed a DJI Phantom on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. The landing was unintentional and the Phantom landed itself after sensing high winds. The photographer presented himself to the armed guards, but “no one seemed too concerned.” He also gave the authorities his phone number, but nobody called.
DJI announced on August 14, 2017, that it is “developing a new local data mode that stops internet traffic to and from its flight control apps, in order to provide enhanced data privacy assurances for sensitive government and enterprise customers.” In local data mode, DJI apps will stop sending or receiving any data over the internet. That includes relevant local maps and geofencing data, the latest software updates, correct radio frequency and power requirements, and newly-issued flight restrictions.
A logger on the Dan River in Virginia was pinned down by a tree. As the Danville Life Saving Crew traveled to the location, they created a plan that included using their drones. Just last month, they had received training to become certified drone operators, and on arrival at the scene, the drones were deployed to assist in making the operation safer. Danville Life Saving Crew assistant director Bryan Fox said, “We were able to navigate the boats around some circumstances in the water, some debris, rock formations, that [the rescuers] didn’t see from the boat as they were trying to navigate.”
UAV Video of the Week
On Sunday, July 2, 2017, a drone was spotted on the approach path to Gatwick Airport. This is the disruption it caused.