News from the 2015 AUVSI Conference, including the Pathfinder Program where the FAA partners with industry to develop commercial UAS technology.
AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference
At the Conference, the FAA announced the “Pathfinder Program” which it called “a partnership with industry to explore the next steps in unmanned aircraft operations beyond the type of operations the agency proposed in the draft small unmanned aircraft systems rule it published in February.”
In his speech, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, “We’re partnering with three leading U.S. companies who have committed extensive resources to perform research that will help us determine if and how we can safely expand unmanned aircraft operations in the United States. These companies reached out to the FAA to work with us on exploring three key types of unmanned operations.”
The industry partners and three focus areas are:
- Visual line-of-sight operations in urban areas. CNN will look at how UAS might be safely used for newsgathering in populated areas.
- Extended visual line-of-sight operations in rural areas. This concept involves UAS flights outside the pilot’s direct vision. UAS manufacturer PrecisionHawk will explore how this might allow greater UAS use for crop monitoring in precision agriculture operations.
- Beyond visual line-of-sight in rural/isolated areas. BNSF Railway will explore command-and-control challenges of using UAS to inspect rail system infrastructure.
Huerta said, “We anticipate receiving valuable data from each of these trials that could result in FAA-approved operations in the next few years. They will also give insight into how unmanned aircraft can be used to transform the way certain industries do business – whether that means making sure trains run on time, checking on the health of crops, or reporting on a natural disaster.”
On the NPRM, Huerta commented on the number of public comments received, noting that it will take time to address them and finalize the rule. The Pathfinder Program is designed to expand expand the use of unmanned aircraft in the meantime.
PrecisionHawk will formulate a framework for fixed wing and multirotor UAVs for missions in agriculture, forestry, and other rural industries. PrecisionHawk will also test its LATAS (Low Altitude Tracking & Avoidance System) traffic management system.
CNN announced that it will become the launch customer for the Drone Aviation Corp WATT UAV. This tethered drone that can take power from the tether and simultaneously transmit data back to the ground. The electric quadrotor is activated with a mobile tablet and can hover at up to 300 feet for 8 hours.
Tim Trott Interview with Jay Willmott
A conversation with Vince Donahue, the Founder and President of Vortex UAS. Vortex provides tailored solutions for businesses utilizing UAS, including pilot training, consulting, and other services. This is a condensed version of the full interview originally published in Episode 347 of the Airplane Geeks podcast.
Videos of the Week
Shot by photographer Eric Sterman with a GoPro on a Phantom 2 during two days at the “Jaws” surf break on the North shore of Maui.
The scenes in this video were captured around sunrise over a period of four months. Shot using a GoPro HERO3 Black Edition camera mounted on a DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-3D 3-axis gimbal.