Tag Archives: NASA

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.

UAV101 Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge

Aurora Flight Sciences CentaurThe optionally piloted Centaur flies at a UAS test site, a NASA-led team tests a sense and avoid system, more bad drone behavior, and an interview with the founder of the Kashmir World Foundation.

News

Remote-controlled passenger flights 5 years away, CEO says

An Aurora Flight Sciences Centaur was flown over the New York UAS test site from Griffiss International Airport. The Centaur is an Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA) based on the Diamond DA42 twin engine airplane. It becomes the first large-scale fixed wing unmanned aircraft to fly at an FAA-approved test site.

Aurora CEO John Langford believes that unmanned aircraft will ultimately make aviation safer, and we may some day see passenger flights with aircraft like the Centaur. The Aurora website has a video of the flight.

NASA tests advanced Ikhana and Global Hawk technology

A team led by NASA is testing a sense and avoid system using the Ikhana UAV, a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Predator B that was acquired by NASA in 2006. Testing in June included 23 encounters with a Beech C90 King Air acting as the intruder. Besides NASA, the team includes General Atomics, the FAA, and Honeywell.

The current test phase includes validation with the Ikhana of sensor, trajectory, and other simulation models. Other tests will utilize a Lockheed S-3B Viking jet from NASA’s Glenn Research Center acting as a high-speed piloted surrogate aircraft.

Seattle police seek pilot after woman knocked out by falling drone

A drone crashed into a building during a parade in Seattle, then fell and struck a woman in the head. Unconscious, she collapsed into her boyfriend’s arms. The drone was turned over to police, as were a physical description and photographs of the man believed to be the pilot. The drone was described as costing about $1,200 and weighing about two pounds.

Guest

Princess Aliyah PandolfiPrincess Aliyah Pandolfi is founder of the Kashmir World Foundation, established in 2008 to improve the lives of people and animals worldwide. Their projects create healthy habitats for humans and wildlife, and emphasize education, vocational training, job creation programs, and endangered species protection.

Kashmir-Robotics is hosting the worldwide Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge to foster innovation and invention in the design, fabrication, and utilization of unmanned aircraft to assist with counter poaching and illicit wildlife trafficking.Kashmir World Foundation
Can 3-D Printed Drones Help Save Wildlife? is a National Geographic video about the Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge.

Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge

Videos of the Week

FPVRACING.TV Time Trial Course #2

This video shows what FPV multicopter racing looks like from the quad’s perspective.

Sticks of a Mini Beast

A dramatic view of high speed FPV flying that shows the video feed from the multicopter as well as the operator’s hands on the controller. For more, see Mr. Steele’s Youtube channel

Flytrex Sky – The first delivery drone

The Flytrex Sky claims to be the world’s first internet connected drone that serves as a personal courier.

 

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.

UAV094 The Amazon Patent for Package Delivery by Drone

Amazon Patent 20150120094Amazon patents package delivery by drone, using drones to plant trees, a new Israeli UAV company, another manned aircraft maker goes unmanned, and the Arctic becomes a no drone zone.

News

Here are Amazon’s plans for delivery drones

Amazon Technologies, Inc. of Seattle, Washington was awarded Patent 20150120094 on April 30, 2015. The patent “…describes an unmanned aerial vehicle (“UAV”) configured to autonomously deliver items of inventory to various destinations. The UAV may receive inventory information and a destination location and autonomously retrieve the inventory from a location within a materials handling facility, compute a route from the materials handling facility to a destination and travel to the destination to deliver the inventory.”

Drones to repopulate forests, 1 billion trees at a time

BioCarbon Engineering of Oxford, England-based is planning to use drones to assist in populating the world’s forests. Scout drones survey the area to create a 3D map, then drones with pressurized air canisters launch and shoot biodegradable pre-germinated seed pods into the ground. The drones are designed and built by VulcanUAV and designed to carry the heavy load of seeds and delivery hardware.

Meteor, New Israeli UAV Company

Yitzhak Nissan, the former president of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), has formed Meteor, a new company that wants to develop “a new breed” of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Israeli Ministry of Defense said that Meteor is planning to demonstrate an affordable UAS with a maximum takeoff weight of about 350 Kilograms.

Sonex Enters UAV Market

Kitbuilt airplane maker Sonex Aircraft is collaborating with Navmar Applied Sciences Corp. (NASC) to research, engineer, and produce UAVs for the U.S. Defense Department. The first project is named Teros and will be based on the Xenos motor glider, powered by the AeroVee Turbo 100 hp piston engine. First prototype delivery is planned for June, 2015.

[AECO] Bans use of UAV’s in the Arctic

If you take an Arctic cruise with a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), you will not be able to bring and use UAVs when visiting the Arctic.

NASA Cohosts Forum on Managing Expanding Unmanned Aerial System Traffic

NASA and the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) are partnering to co-sponsor the 2015 Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management (UTM) Convention, July 28-30, at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Convention speakers are to include­­ NASA and FAA executives, industry thought leaders, innovators and stakeholders. Exhibits and flight demonstrations will feature the latest developments in unmanned aerial systems technology, and how they will impact the future of low-altitude flight.

Video of the Week

NASA Greased Lightning GL-10 prototype

Ten-Engine Electric Plane Completes Successful Flight Test

NASA Langley researchers designed and built a battery-powered, 10-engine remotely piloted aircraft. The Greased Lightning GL-10 prototype has a 10-foot wingspan and can take off like a helicopter and fly efficiently like an airplane. In this video, engineers successfully transition the plane from hover to wing-borne flight in tests at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

Mentioned

PhoneDrone: Let your smartphone be your personal drone

PhoneDrone is a Kickstarter project which turns your your smartphone into a quadcopter. Two versions are planned: one RTF and one where you 3D print the frame.

 

UAV070 Preview of the FAA sUAS NPRM

NAB Chernobyl Aerial VideoSneak peak at the FAA sUAS regulations, NZ drone regs, bioengineered drones, busting poachers, the threat to airliners, first amendment issues, and GoPro to enter the UAV market.

News

Drone Flights Face FAA Hit

The Wall Street Journal reports that “people familiar with the rule-making process” are talking about what we can expect in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) from the FAA for sUAS.

The expectation is that the FAA will:

  • Lump all sUAS under 55 pounds under the same regulations
  • Require sUAS operators to have a manned-flight pilots license
  • Limit flying to daytime hours, below 400 feet, line of sight.

The NPRM is still expected before year-end, followed by a public comment period.

New Zealand to introduce civil UAV regulations

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) plans to issue New Zealand’s notice of proposed rulemaking for unmanned air vehicles on December 4. There are no details on what the proposal will contain, but the CAA had input from the UAVNZ industry group and Callaghan Innovation, an entity that promotes economic progress in New Zealand. The CAA says that certification will likely be required for operators of high risk UAVs.

NASA Is Working on Creating Bioengineered Drones Made of Mushrooms and Bacteria

NASA is supporting the Prototyping a Biological UAV project “to grow a mycelium-based chassis for [a] biological drone.” One motivation for this program is to create lightweight sensors that require no electrical energy.

Poachers Caught by ShadowView Drones

ShadowView Foundation drones were used during an anti-poaching operation in the Greater Kruger Area in South Africa.  Rhino poachers were apprehended as a result.

This is believed to be the first time drones were used for this purpose.

ShadowView used information from the drone to direct local rangers on the ground. “One of the rangers reported via radio the poachers were heavily armed and immediately engaged upon sight. During the ensuing firefight, the rangers unfortunately killed one of the poachers.”

Is The Small-UAV Threat To Airliners Overrated?

Regulatory agencies require that commercial aircraft withstand impact by birds. This article wonders if existing regulations for bird strikes can be extended to include small UAVs.

Up in the Air: The free-speech problems raised by regulating drones

Ferguson, Missouri has been the scene of protests and vandalism after a Ferguson Police Department officer fatally shot an 18-year-old man. The FAA granted no-fly zone requests, but there are indications that this was done to keep news helicopters out of the area. This article explores possible First Amendment issues associated with news gathering by drone.

WSJ: GoPro Is Going to Make Its Own Drones

Reportedly, GoPro is going to start making its own multi-rotor helicopters in the $500-1,000 range. Availability is said to be late 2015.

The 19 best drone photos of 2014

Mashable picks 19 awesome images that could only have been created from an aerial perspective.

Video of the Week

Chernobyl by Drone  

Eerie video of the Chernobyl Exclusion Area almost 30 years after the meltdown.

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.”

UAV051 Martha Stewart on Drones

Gobble HawkMartha Stewart’s farm via DJI Phantom, UAS competitions, Amazon.com petitions the FAA, and a utility company to start drone testing.

News:

Amazing Aerial Photos Of My Farm

One of Martha Stewart’s security employees took a tour of Martha’s farm with his new DJI Phantom. On her blog, she posted photos taken by the quadcopter, much to the delight of her fans. Is that commercial use by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Martha’s company?

Shaken or stirred? Drone bartender battles bots in design challenge

The Electrolux Design Lab is a design competition where students submit innovative ideas for households of the future. Among the 35 finalists this year, we see one that carries either hot or cold beverages to thirsty bar patrons, and dispenses the drinks into cups. Control is intended to be by voice or mobile app.

‘Gobble Hawk’ Wins NASA High-Altitude UAV Design Competition

There was another recent contest for students, this one specifically for UAVs that track hurricanes. NASA was looking for a lower cost high endurance UAS, and they chose the twin-fuselage Gobble Hawk design concept from Virginia Tech.

The second place OQ451-5 Trident from Purdue would be powered by hydrogen engines, with an endurance of 7 days. Third place was the University of Virginia Big WAHOO (Worldwide Autonomous Hurricane and Oceanic Observer), also hydrogen-powered..

Amazon asks the FAA for permission to play with its drones outside

Amazon.com has been operating its package delivery drones in an indoor test facility in Seattle. On July 9, they sent a Petition for Exemption to the FAA asking to move outside.

Amazon is serious about package delivery by drone. In part, their petition says:

Amazon Prime Air, a new delivery system that will get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using aerial vehicles, is one invention we are incredibly passionate about.  We believe customers will love it, and we are committed to making Prime Air available to customers worldwide as soon as we are permitted to do so.

We also see that Amazon has made significant progress:

In the past five months, we have made advancements toward the development of highly-automated aerial vehicles for Prime Air, including:

  • Testing a range of capabilities for our eighth- and ninth-generation aerial vehicles, including agility, flight duration, redundancy, and sense-and-avoid sensors and algorithms;
  • Developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles per hour, and will carry 5-pound payloads, which cover 86% of products sold on Amazon; and
  • Attracting a growing team of world-renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut.

Finally, Amazon summarizes:

One day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today, resulting in enormous benefits for consumers across the nation.  We respectfully submit this petition for exemption so that Prime Air can be ready to launch commercial operations as soon as eventually permitted by subsequent FAA action.

Eagle shot wins drone photography competition

A competition for drone photographs recently concluded and the winning photo is a birdseye view of an eagle in flight over Bali Barat National Park in Indonesia. You can see the contest winners at Dronestagram, a website dedicated to aerial photographs. Sponsorship was provided by National Geographic, Go Pro, Picanova, Droneshop and Parrot.

SDG&E Is First (Utility) in Unmanned Flight With Drone Testing

The San Diego Gas & Electric Co. says the FAA has given them permission to conduct test flights of a small camera-equipped quadcopter. Ultimately, the utility wants to use the UAVs for infrastructure inspection. Test flights are limited to rural areas away from houses.

MultiRotorForums Petitions White House to Adopt UK Drone Policy

DroneLive.com reports that MultiRotorForums.com created a petition on WhiteHouse.gov asking that the Obama Administration compel the FAA to adopt the UK’s commercial sUAS standards immediately. 100,000 signatures are needed by August 3, 2014.

 Lifeguard drone to the rescue!

In this concept from RTS, multicopters are fitted with life preservers, a FLIR camera, and the ability to detect swimmers in distress. They fly to the person and drop a life preserver faster than a human lifeguard could arrive.

Video of the Week

Flying Down Low Around Las Vegas Back Alleys with my RC UAV Drone for Aerial Photography

Mentioned

Drone Operators Arrested After Close Call with NYPD Helicopter

Two men were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment after flying a drone within 800 feet of a police helicopter at 2,000 feet near the George Washington Bridge.

Stronger privacy laws needed to protect public from drones, parliamentary committee says

An Australian federal government committee is recommending stronger privacy laws, particularly related to drones. Their report is called Eyes in the Sky: Inquiry into drones and the regulation of air safety & privacy. [PDF]

Eye in the sky keeps close watch on livestock
Kiwi ranchers use a hexacopter and GoPro.

Recommended Books

Amazon.com links to two good books for those just getting started:

The Beginner’s Guide to FPV

Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones: Learn about, buy and fly these amazing aerial vehicles

 

UAV041 Regulating UAS

Flying Fire Breathing Dragon

UAS regulation proposals from CASA in Australia and from a listener in the U.S., a “Ten best drones” list, NASA testing sense and avoid with a Predator, and bright job prospects for those with UAS skills.

The News:

NPRM 1309OS – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems
Australia’s ‘low risk’ drone strike stance could bring down airliners
Certified UAS operators in Australia hits 100

The Australian CASA released an NPRM (a Notice of Proposed Rule Making) on May 14 concerning Remotely Piloted Aircraft (or RPA) used for commercial operations. It excludes model aircraft used for recreational purposes, but it does have provisions for a “low risk” class of RPA with a gross weight of no more than 2 kilograms:

10 Best Remote Control Drones for 2014

The editors at Faveable made a list of what they believe to be the ten best consumer drones available today.

NASA Wants To Prove Predator Drones Can Play Nice With Airliners

NASA plans to fly an MQ-9 Predator B and two manned manned aircraft in the same airspace. The idea is to test sense and avoid algorithms under real world conditions.

Graduates with drone skills are going to be in demand soon

If you can design, build, or operate drones, you might have a bright future ahead of you. In a 2013 report, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International says we could see 70,000 new jobs in the U.S. within three years, and 100,000 new jobs by the year 2025.

Video of the Week:

Drone HDR with HDRinstant

Use stacking and morphing technology to create HDR images from your drone videos.

Listener Feedback:

Roy submits two articles for consideration:

Question: What Should the FAA Do About Small UAS? – General Aviation needs to participate in the conversation.

UAVs: Chafing (Rightfully) Against Regulation – The UAV industry and enthusiasts are different than “legacy” aviation. They are historically unrestrained by regulations, and live in a world of fast technology change. The FAA is talking like they are in charge, but they aren’t.

Roy also offers the things he thinks the FAA should be looking at when classifying UAS: weight, speed, and type of control. Type of control defined as:

    • Line of sight and the pilot has to watch it.
    • Point of view and the pilot flies it by watching a video feed from the drone.
    • Completely autonomous, so no pilot is required.

UAV008 The FBI Uses Drones

U.S. Customs and Border Protection drone

This Episode:

U.S. Justice Department reports on it’s use of drones by the FBI, BATF and others, an online multi-player UAV game, a NASA competition to demonstrate UAS capabilities (with a cash prize!), a map showing which States have anti-drone laws, reverse engineering a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, and qualifications for UAS pilots.

Justice Department Spent Nearly $5M on Drones

The Inspector General of the U.S. Justice Department released a report showing that the Department’s agencies have spent close to $5 Million on unmanned aircraft since 2004. The FBI alone has spent more than $3 million, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) has spent almost $600,000, and $1.26 million has been awarded to at least seven local police departments and nonprofit organizations.

Real UAV Virtual Reality Game Project

“Zone” is a multi-player online game that is looking for funding through Indigogo. The idea is that modified R/C planes would be remotely controlled by three teams, each with two players who control their fighter. Teams have a mission plan, a destination, and a dog fight along the way.

UAS Airspace Operations Challenge and The Challenge is On: Team Registration Open for NASA-DPI Unmanned Aircraft

This is phase 1 of a NASA Centennial Challenge Program with $500,000 in prizes. Competitors will demonstrate UAS technology and capabilities that are critical to their integration into the national airspace. Hosted at the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center & Test Complex at Camp Atterbury Range, near Edinburgh, Indiana and taking place from 28 April – 2 May 2014.

Map: Is your State a No-Drone Zone?

With drones to eventually enter the commercial airspace in the U.S., some States have passed anti-drone legislation out of concern for public privacy and safety. This map shows which States have no such laws, which have laws restricting use by private citizens, which have laws restricting use by law enforcement, and which have both.

Commander: Iranian RQ-170 to Have Maiden Flight Soon

Lockheed Martin RQ-170 SentinelAn Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander says an Iranian version of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel will make its maiden flight in the near future. This is the drone the Iranians captured in 2011 and they claim to have reverse-engineered the technology.

The Future of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Pilot Qualification [PDF]

@onthefly305 Tweeted a link to a Journal of Aviation / Aerospace Education & Research paper that looks at qualification of UAS pilots. The only current printed requirements come from the 2008 FAA Interim Operational Approval Guidance.

The author believes that “UAS Operators and pilots could be incorporated into the National Airspace System under current regulations that govern pilot qualification, by modifying the standards and classification currently used by the U.S. Department of Defense. The FAA needs to make only minor changes to the existing Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and certify UAS operators by using type ratings.”

Mentioned:

DARPA Tactical Technology Office, Hydra

 

UAV006 Spy on the Chicken

PUMA AE beach launch

PUMA AE beach launch. Courtesy AeroVironment, Inc.

This Episode:

The Reaper is turned into a Jammer, drones are spying on chickens in Australia, FAA rules for small UAS’s delayed again, UAV privacy questions remain, a new UAS Test Center in the UK, monitoring wildlife with a PUMA and the weather with a Global Hawk, FEMA shuts down Colorado UAV flights, and more multi-rotor’s come down in crowds.

The News:

Jamming Pod Demonstrated on MQ-9 Reaper UAV

General Atomics has fitted a Northrop Grumman jamming pod to an MQ-9 Reaper. The test flight occurred back in April during a U.S. Marine Corps weapons and tactics instructor (WTI) course, but has only recently been made public. Planned for the October WTI course is a demonstration with EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare (EW) jets and smaller unmanned aircraft.

Animal Liberation activists launch spy drone to test free-range claims

Australian activists are concerned that some large free-range chicken farms are not in fact free-range. So for $17,000 they purchased a hexacopter, fitted it with an HD video camera, and flew it over the farms to document their claims. The group says this does not violate trespass laws.

First Commercial UAS Flight Due; Small UAS Rule Delayed

An Insitu ScanEagle was expected to make the first commercial flight of an unmanned aircraft on September 11, under a restricted category type certification the FAA awarded in July. ConocoPhillips was to launch the ScanEagle from a research vessel in the Arctic Ocean west of Alaska to monitor whale migrations and ice flows.

The FAA’s release of a Notice of Proposed RuleMaking (NPRM) which would govern the operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) weighing up to 55 pounds has been delayed until early in 2014.

UAV Operations in National Air Space Advance as Privacy Fight Heats Up

The standards being developed for sUAS over: UAV design, including command and control systems, batteries, production, quality assurance, maintenance, and continued airworthiness, the aircraft flight manual, and operations over populated areas.

ASTM International developed the initial standards for the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee that was chartered in 2008. That feeds the NPRM process which includes a mechanism for public comment.

The ASTM standards committee for large UAS was unable to make enough progress, so it’s mission was changed to minimum operational performance standards (or MOPS) for detect-and-avoid equipment.

Unlike the slow rule-making progress for commercial UAS, Government agencies (like law enforcement and public safety) can move quickly as a result of the March MOU between the FAA and the Department of Justice.

UK Inaugurates National UAS Test Center

Two UK airports (West Wales Airport and Newquay Cornwall Airport) have launched a “National Aeronautical Center” (NAC) to develop, test and demonstrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), both commercial and military.

More drones coming Saturday in NOAA tests

NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations is testing the PUMA UAS in the Florida Keys to monitor wildlife without disturbing them.

 

NASA Global Hawk

A NASA Global Hawk undergoes systems testing while parked on the ramp at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center on the edge of Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in preparation for participation in NASA’s Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes, or GRIP, hurricane mission.

Spy Drones Turning Up New Data About Hurricanes And Weather and NASA to Investigate Tropical Storm Humberto: Atlantic’s Second “Zombie Tropical Storm”

NASA is flying two Global Hawks from Wallops Island over Hurricanes under the five-year HS3 (Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel) Mission.

Falcon UAV Supports Colorado Flooding Until Grounded by FEMA

The Falcon UAV was providing valuable aerial imagery of the recent tragic Colorado floods. However, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has arrived with conventional manned aircraft and the Falcon was ordered to stand down.

Multirotor Crashes into Crowd in Spain and Pirate Party Crashes Spy Drone in Front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel

A hexacopter comes down into a packed crowd in Spain, allegedly injuring several people. Meanwhile, in Dresden, Germany at a political party campaign rally, another copter came down in front of the podium.