Tag Archives: Northrop Grumman

UAV231 The Drone Services Industry

The changing landscape for drone services, drone swarms for urban tactics, a simulated drone attack in Idaho, European airport operators embrace the value of drones but look for protections, MIT develops a mapping system for drone navigation, the Department of the Interior uses UAVs with great results, and Intel at the Olympics.

UAV News

Here’s Why The Drone Services Industry is in Trouble

In the “old” days, the Section 333 process was long and difficult. The hardware was tricky to operate and getting data from the drone was not easy. So companies used drone service providers to accomplish the desired missions. Now, a Part 107 is easy and cheap to obtain, flying drones is easier, and data from the drone is not as difficult to acquire. This means companies can create their own in-house drone capability.

PrecisionHawk Acquires Droners.io and AirVid to Launch the Nation’s Largest Network of Commercially Licensed Drone Pilots

PrecisionHawk has acquired Droners.io and AirVid to deliver on-demand, drone-based imagery to enterprise clients. The companies will merge and operate under the Droners.io name. Combined, they form a network of more than 15,000 commercially licensed drone pilots, which PrecisionHawk will use to service its enterprise customers in insurance, agriculture, energy, construction, and government. Part 107 certified pilots can join the network and start accepting jobs in their region by creating a profile at www.droners.io.

Participants wanted for UAV swarm-based tactics test bed

Northrop Grumman is the Phase 1 Swarm Systems Integrator for the DARPA OFFSET program (OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics). The program “envisions future small-unit infantry forces using swarms comprising upwards of 250 small unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and/or small unmanned ground systems (UGSs) to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments.” Northrop Grumman is about to launch its first open-architecture test bed and they are looking for participants to create and test their own swarm-based tactics on the platform.

Idaho Technology Company Black Sage Plans Drone Defense Demonstration at Idaho State Capitol

On February 21, 2018, Boise, Idaho-based Black Sage plans to demonstrate a drone defense system as they create a drone attack on the state capitol. Black Sage will create a virtual fence around the capitol, fly a swarm of drones directly into the protected area, and demonstrate the counter-UAS system to safely defeat the threat.

European airport operators call for adoption of drone rulebook

Airport Council International for Europe (ACI Europe) says safety issues involving drones and airports are increasing, and they want to see “an effective regulatory framework.” ACI Europe released the 6-page position paper on drone technology, ACI Europe Position on Drone Technology [PDF] in January. The paper recommends:

    • Airport-specific protection policies, including standardized protected zones
    • Technical systems to detect and neutralize drones
    • Traffic management for drone operations at airports
    • Readying the airport industry for future drone technology opportunities.

MIT teaches drones to fly with uncertainty

MIT researchers are developing the NanoMap system for drones. The system navigates a drone from point to point while avoiding random obstacles. Where other models have the drone map the environment, then fly through it, NanoMap creates maps on the fly.

Interior’s magic bullet: Drones that are DoD castoffs

The Department of Interior has a fleet of drones, many of which are hand-me-downs from the Department of Defense. Nevertheless, the drones are performing tasks that take one-seventh the time at one-tenth the cost, such as: land surveillance, wildlife monitoring, assistance with natural disasters, and dam inspections.

UAV Videos of the Week

High-tech drones steal the show at the Winter Olympics

Intel | The Tech Behind a Record-breaking Drone Show at PyeongChang 2018


Questions remain after drone collides with helicopter on Kauai



UAV216 Making American Aviation Great Again

President Trump directs the DOT and FAA to launch an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, a company drops out of the Navy MQ-25A Stingray competition, a long endurance drone flies for five days, and a microbot swims underwater and flies in the air.

Vanilla Aircraft long endurance drones

Long endurance drones, courtesy Vanilla Aircraft.

UAV News

President Donald Trump and Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announce Innovative Drone Integration Pilot Program

In a Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Transportation, President Trump directed the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, “to launch an initiative to safely test and validate advanced operations for drones in partnership with state and local governments in select jurisdictions.” This “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program” seeks to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace, and realize the benefits of unmanned technology in the economy.

The directive describes policy, the UAS Integration Pilot Program, implementation, responsibilities for coordination, and program evaluation. See also:

Northrop Grumman Drops Out of MQ-25A Stingray Competition

Northrop Grumman will not compete to build the Navy MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial refueling vehicle, even though the company developed the test platform that demonstrated autonomous takeoff and landing from an aircraft carrier. During an October 25, 2017, earnings call, Northrop CEO Wes Bush said, “When we’re looking at one of these opportunities… our objective is not just to win. Winning is great, it feels good on the day of an announcement, but if you can’t really execute on it and deliver on it to your customer and your shareholders, then you’ve done the wrong thing.”

Vanilla Aircraft Completes 5-Day Flight

As we described in episode 179, Vanilla Aircraft VA001 unmanned aircraft system completed a non-stop, unrefueled 56-hour flight at the New Mexico UAS Flight Test Center. Then, on October 18, 2017, VA001 took off from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and landed 5.1 days later with 3 days of fuel remaining. This project was funded under a contract through Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). The aircraft has a 50-pound payload capability and can supply up to 800 watts to the payload bay. Vanilla Aircraft plans to start production in the coming months for a multitude of applications.

AOPA Drone Talk: Drones and the Legal Landscape

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) will conduct a free webinar November 10, 2017, at 8 PM Eastern. The discussion will center around how the drone space has evolved, the important legal matters you should be aware of, and how AOPA can help protect your freedom to fly. This drone talk webinar will be suitable for both remote pilots and those flying for fun.

Insect-sized robot can go from air to water and back again

Harvard University engineers have developed the “Robobee,” a 175-milligram flapping-wing robot that can fly, land on water, swim underneath, and take off again. To counter the problem of water surface, the engineers designed a device that uses electrolysis to convert some of the water into hydrogen and oxygen for buoyancy, then ignites the gas for a boosted takeoff.

UAV Video of the Week

These ‘robo-bees’ can dive, swim, and jump

The Quantum Tron UAV

In Omega Tau podcast episode 267, host Markus Voelter talks with Quantum Systems
CEO Florian Seibel about the Tron VTOL drone.






UAV192 Uber Air Taxi UAV

Drone vulnerability to hacking, the ScanEagle gets fuel cell power, Grand Sky UAS Park adds a major tenant, drone privacy issues in Australia, swarming biobots, and Uber collaborates with Aurora Flight Sciences for an air taxi.

Aurora Flight Sciences air taxi concept

Aurora Flight Sciences Electric VTOL Aircraft

UAV News

Watch A Very Vulnerable $140 Quadcopter Drone Get Hacked Out Of The Sky

Researchers at the Cyber-Physical Systems Security Lab at the University of Texas at Dallas hacked into a small quadcopter and took control. UT Dallas researcher Junia Valente said, “The device contains an open access point not protected by any password and a misconfigured FTP server that allows unauthorized users to read and write to the drone filesystem. One of the attacks we did was precisely to overwrite sensitive system files to gain full root access.”

Five reasons why fuel cell powered UAVs beat internal combustion fuel systems

A ScanEagle UAV manufactured by Boeing subsidiary Insitu has been tested with a Ballard Power Systems’ fuel cell system. Ballard lists five advantages that fuel cell propulsion of UAVs has over internal combustion systems.

North Dakota UAS Park Welcomes Northrop Grumman as Anchor Tenant

The Grand Sky Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Business and Aviation Park, located near Grand Forks, North Dakota has welcomed new tenant Northrop Grumman to a 36,000 square-foot facility. The park has access to Grand Forks Air Force Base, where Northrop Grumman provides systems and technology to the U.S. Air Force, including the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Backyard skinny-dippers lack effective laws to keep peeping drones at bay

A woman returned to her home in Darwin from an evening gym session, got undressed, and began to enjoy her secluded backyard pool. Soon, a small camera-mounted quadcopter appeared overhead. She doesn’t know who was operating the drone.

In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) does not prevent drones from flying over private property. Australia lacks a tort of privacy so even if she could find him, the woman couldn’t sue the drone operator for a breach of privacy.

Software allows for use of drones and insect biobots to map disaster areas

North Carolina State University researchers have created the hardware and software to use UAVs and insect cyborgs (or biobots) as a way to map areas like collapsed buildings after a disaster. Biobots could move freely within a defined space and map the area as they go.

UAV Video of the Week

Aurora Flight Sciences’ Electric VTOL Aircraft

Uber selected Aurora Flight Sciences as a partner to develop an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for its Uber Elevate Network. Aurora’s eVTOL concept is derived from its XV-24A X-plane program currently underway for the U.S. Department of Defense and other autonomous aircraft the company has developed over the years.

See also: We just got our first glimpse of Uber’s vision for flying taxis




UAV091 Here Come the Lawyers

ECA Group Mini UAVLaw firms step up to UAVs, DARPA enlists Northrop Grumman and AeroVironment for TERN, the MQ-4C Triton UAS gets new search radar, the X-47B refuels autonomously, agricultural applications for UAVs, an anti-drone drone, detecting drones by sound, and the FAA clarifies policy for drone online videos.


US firms rush to set up drone departments

Michael Drobac is executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, but also the senior policy advisor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He says, “’Almost every firm has a drone practice. I’m not sure every firm has a drone client.”

273 Drone Aircraft Carriers? New DARPA Contract Could Be a Game Changer

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants the Navy to be able to launch MALE-class drones from ships at sea. Under the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node, or TERN program, Northrop Grumman and AeroVironment have been selected to compete the next phase of the program and create systems where unmanned aircraft “take off and land from very confined spaces in elevated sea states and … to transition to efficient long-duration cruise missions.”

Triton UAS conducts first flight with search radar

The Navy’s MQ-4C Triton UAS has completed its inaugural flight with the new Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) search radar. The radar has all-weather capability and provides a 360-degree view of a large geographic area. When operational, the Triton will dwell at high altitudes and provide 24/7 ISR coverage virtually anywhere in the world.

Fueled in flight: X-47B first to complete autonomous aerial refueling

X-47B completes first autonomous aerial refueling

On April 22. 2015 the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) of an unmanned aircraft was accomplished with the X-47B. This completed the final test objective under the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstration program. The aerial refueling was captured on video.

Researchers Seeking Agricultural Applications For Unmanned Aircraft

The University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center recently hosted the HLB Grower Day and UAV Applications in Agriculture Workshop to look at future applications of UAVs in agriculture. The workshop was coordinated by Dr. Reza Ehsani, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

Noting that commercial operations are not yet generally allowed by the FAA, Ehsani said, “It will take at least a year until the proposed rules go through all of the approval process. So, we are probably looking to be able to use UAVs under these regulations sometime in 2017.”

Yet research continues:

  • Spain’s Institute For Sustainable Agriculture is conducting research on crops using quad-rotor UAVs taking images to discriminate between crops and weeds.
  • The University of Central Florida developing a UAV to inspect plants in fields in conjunction with a ground robot. A quadcopter collecting less expensive lower resolution imagery identifies potential problems and sends the ground robot in for a more detailed inspection.
  • The University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab is developing a concept where swarms of hummingbird-sized autonomous UAVs fly close to the ground to map the environment. In research conducted in California, a UAV flew between 26 rows of citrus trees and counted 479,395 fruits.

France’s anti-drone drone can spot malicious pilots in under a minute

In response to the number of suspicious drones flying over Paris landmarks, French firm ECA Group has a solution: an anti-drone drone. It chases down rogue drones, triangulates the location of its pilot, moves in to photograph the offender, and notifies the police. ECA won’t say how it works.

The low-tech anti-drone technology at the Boston Marathon today involves net guns and text messages

Massachusetts State Police declared Boston a no-fly zone for drones during the recent Boston Marathon. To help enforce the ban, officials utilized the DroneShield drone detection and warning system. DroneShield uses “acoustic detection technology” to listen for the telltale sound of a drone.

FAA Backs Off On UAS Videos

On April 8, 2015 the FAA sent a policy notice to Aviation Safety Inspectors on the subject of Aviation-Related Videos or Other Electronic Media on the Internet. [PDF] The notice states, “Electronic media posted on a video Web site does not automatically constitute a commercial operation or commercial purpose, or other non-hobby or non-recreational use.”  Inspectors “are expected to use critical thinking when addressing electronic media” that shows potentially noncompliant activity.

The FAA will use education to encourage voluntary compliance and provided a “UAS Informational Letter Template” for Inspectors when a written notification is needed.

Volz Launches New DA26-D Redundant Servo for Demanding UAV Applications

German company Volz Servos has released its new fully redundant DA 26-D actuator for high reliability applications. The actuator, electric motors, control and communication electronics, and power supply are all redundant. Also, there are integrated sensors that provide diagnostic information like current consumption, supply voltage levels, and temperature readings.

Video of the Week

Watch This Homeowner Shoot Down a Drone Flying over His Property

In this report from Inside Edition, we see a homeowner shoot down a drone over his property. But is it real or is it a promotional stunt? Is it unauthorized commercial use and reckless discharge of a firearm? Will the authorities respond?

UAV040 A Multicopter First Flight

Black Knight Transformer

David flys a multicopter, an Iranian RQ-170 clone, Embry-Riddle creates an unmanned masters program, Italy looks to build a UAV school, a US Airways flight encounters a UAV, Northrop Grumman and Yamaha team up, and Parrot has a new FPV drone.

David’s First Flight

Parker Gyokeres from Propellerheads Aerial Photography gives David the opportunity to fly a hexacopter, an AGL Hobbies UAP2-V2 with a Sony NEX camera on a 6-axis gyroscopic gimbal and a Naza-M.V2 controller. The video.

The News:

Iranian Version of RQ-170 Drone Unveiled

The Iranian IRGC Aerospace Force claims to have reverse engineered the captured RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone.

Embry-Riddle Worldwide to Launch Master’s Degree in Unmanned Systems

In August 2014, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University plans to offer a Master of Science in Unmanned & Autonomous Systems Engineering.

Italy May Build UAV School

The Italian Air Force in thinking about opening a UAV school that would be available to other air forces. Italy already provides manned aircraft training to foreign pilots at it’s Lecce facility.

Possible UAV incursion and near missAirliner-Drone Near Miss Spurring FAA to Clamp Down on UAVsAUVSI: Uncertainties surround reported UAV and airliner airprox

The pilot of a US Airways CRJ-200 reported “a near midair collision” March 22, 2014 at 2,300 feet with a drone near the airport in Tallahassee, Florida. The pilot reported that the small unmanned aircraft involved looked similar to an F-4 Phantom jet. This comes from Jim Williams, head of the FAA’s unmanned-aircraft office.

Northrop Grumman, Yamaha Announce ‘R-Bat’ UAV

The Rotary Bat (or R-Bat) is based on Yamaha’s RMax agricultural helicopter, and will be part of Northrop Grumman’s Bat line of small unmanned aircraft systems. The R-bat is intended for search and rescue, power line inspection, and forest fire observation missions.

Parrot’s New Drone Lets You Simulate Flying, Feet on the Ground

The new Parrot Bebop quadcopter is essentially a flying high quality fisheye camera. FPV is provided by your smartphone or tablet. An option is the Skycontroller. This twin-joystick controller extends the Wi-FI range up to 2 kilometers. Normally, the range is 300 meters. The drones can also sync to Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. AvWeb video from the AUVSI show in Orlando: Parrot’s DIY Bebop Camera Drone.

Video of the Week:

Incredible First Flight of the AT Black Knight Transformer from Mick

The Black Knight Transformer is an autonomous “flying truck” that is both a helicopter and an automobile. Missions include autonomous casualty evacuation and cargo resupply. This is video of the prototype driving and flying tests.