Tag Archives: package delivery

UAV137 Aurora’s LightningStrike Hybrid-electric X-plane

Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrikeThe Aurora Flight Sciences unmanned VTOL X-plane, shore-to-ship package delivery, Senate FAA reauthorization bill impacts UAS, more proposed local drone legislation, a new DJI Phantom, and high-altitude sUAS flying.

News

Aurora Wins Darpa Contract to Build Novel Drone Demonstrator

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded second- and third-phase contract awards to Aurora Flight Sciences for the “LightningStrike” technology demonstrator. Aurora plans to start flight testing the vertical takeoff and landing experimental plane (VTOL X-Plane) in 2018.

The LightningStrike features two large rear wings and two smaller front canards. The same Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine used in V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is mounted in the fuselage and powers three Honeywell generators which drive 24 ducted fans on the wings and canards. The wings and canards rotate to direct the fan thrust for hovering, transition, and forward flight.

Aurora’s LightningStrike VTOL X-Plane

Maersk Tankers Claims First Drone Delivery to Ship at Sea

A French Xamen Technologies drone dropped a small package onto a Maersk tanker in Denmark as a test to see if drones could be used to deliver spare parts, mail, or medicine to a ship. Compared to traditional means of delivery, the potential cost savings is significant.

Bipartisan Senate FAA bill shuns Shuster’s ATC proposal

The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has introduced a bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill that does not include any proposal for air traffic control privatization. However, under the Senate bill, the US National Institute of Standards (NIST) and the FAA would “develop risk-based, consensus industry standards on [UAV] aircraft safety.”

“The FAA would also establish a process for the airworthiness approval of small [UAVs] based on the consensus standards, in lieu of the more cumbersome certification process used for the approval of other aircraft. These standards … approved by FAA would ultimately improve safety by prescribing which safety technologies would be built into unmanned aircraft systems sold in the United States.”

Drone-Mounted Handgun, Flamethrower Reignite Lawmaker Debate

Reacting to the well-publicised drone weaponization exploits of a Connecticut teen, state legislators have conducted public hearings and proposed legislation to outlaw certain activity.

One bill would make it a class C felony, punishable by one to ten years in prison, to use a drone to release tear gas or other substances, or to control a deadly weapon or explosive device. Another bill would also limit how law enforcement and state agencies can use drones. But Peter Sachs, author of the Drone Law Journal, says one version of the bill exempts police from the ban on weaponized drones.

Proposed Utah legislation would allow cops to shoot down drones

Utah is not fooling around when it comes to drones. The recently introduced Senate Bill 210 would designate certain drone activity as aerial trespassing, and create guidelines for enforcement, including an option for police to shoot down rogue UAVs. State Senator Wayne Harper wants to address three issues: privacy, non-interference with airports and aircraft, and non-interference with emergency situations.

The bill would ban drones within 500 feet of correctional institutions or within three miles of a wildfire, and make it illegal to use a drone in the surveillance of large crowds or for stalking someone in a voyeuristic way. Violating drones could be neutralized by first responders or law enforcement officers.

DJI’s New Phantom 4 Drone Is Smarter, More Expensive and Available From Apple

DJI introduced the Phantom 4 which can dodge obstacles and track humans. The Phantom 4 features two sensors that allow it to react to and avoid obstacles in its path. The TapFly mode lets you tap on the live view on your smart device screen to direct the Phantom 4 in that direction. Flight time increases to 28 minutes, which is 25% more than the Phantom 3 Professional.

Someone thought it would be a good idea to fly a drone at 11,000 ft—it wasn’t

An anonymous YouTuber claims to have flown a modified DJI Phantom 2 to an altitude of 11,000 feet. Not all drone enthusiasts are impressed.

Video of the Week

African kids see drone for the first time!

Mark Brandon Smith was filming in Uganda when the headmaster of a school there asked him to give the kids a show with the drone. Watch the reaction from the kids as he flew the DJI Phantom 3 Professional for a short flight.

Mentioned

High-tech ‘bazooka’ fires a net to take down drones

The SkyWall 100 from U.K.-based OpenWorks Engineering fires projectiles at drones from a shoulder-mounted compressed air launcher. The Skywall locks on the drone, tracks the drone’s flight path, calculates an intercept trajectory, and fires a cannister with a net.

Watch high tech ‘bazooka’ take down a drone Fox News

Watch This Jet Ski Destroy a Drone, and Catch Some Serious Air

 

 

UAV135 Micro UAS Legislation Will Have to Wait

The Ocuair Enduro multirotorThe House FAA reauthorization bill returns to Committee, package delivery by drone in Singapore, a quadcopter crosses the English Channel, filming wildlife with drones, a drone detection system for airports, and putting UAVs on the internet.

News

House FAA reauthorization legislation delayed

The “AIRR Act” that passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on February 11 with “micro UAS” provisions has met broad opposition, largely over the topic of air traffic control privatization. As a result, the Act has returned to the Committee for revision, thus delaying action on both small and micro UAS.

Airbus Helicopters and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Sign MoU for UAS Experimentation Project

Under the Skyways Experimentation Project, Airbus and CAAS expect to conduct package delivery proof-of-concept trials in Singapore in two phases. In the first phase, Airbus will create a network of parcel stations on the campus of the National University of Singapore (NUS). Phase two would test package delivery from a station on the Singapore coast to ships anchored in the bay.

Drone makes historic 72-minute flight across English Channel

UK commercial drone operator Ocuair™ has successfully flown a quadcopter across the English Channel. The customized Enduro quadcopter flew 35 km (21.7 miles) in 72 minutes, with an operator staying within 500 meters in a chase boat. Along the way, the drone encountered a GPS guidance problem, requiring manual guidance for the last part of the flight.

Making Aviation History – The First Quadcopter Drone to Fly Across the English Channel

Attenborough calls in the drones for his new series: Broadcaster will use technology to capture elusive and dangerous animals

For his new six-part Planet Earth II series, Sir David Attenborough has used ultra-high-definition and ultra-high-speed cameras mounted on drones to capture dramatic footage of dangerous and elusive animals.

Anti-drone system for airports passes tests

As reported in Episode 117, the FAA entered into a Pathfinder agreement with CACI International Inc. to evaluate using the company’s sensor technology to detect rogue UAS in the vicinity of airports. Now the CACI proof-of-concept system has been tested at the Atlantic City International Airport. The SkyTracker system uses radio frequency sensors positioned around an airport which detect frequencies typically used by unmanned aircraft. Then it triangulates the signals to provide the location of the UAS and its operator. FAA press release: FAA, DHS, CACI, UMD Perform UAS Detection Work.

AT&T and Intel to Test Drones on LTE Network

AT&T and Intel are working to understand how drones could be connected via a ground-based network. Intel will partner with the AT&T Internet of Things (IoT) team, and the AT&T Foundry innovation center in Palo Alto, California.

Video of the Week

Raffaello D’Andrea: Meet the Dazzling Flying Machines of the Future

Autonomous systems expert Raffaello D’Andrea demonstrates a flying wing that can hover and recover from disturbance, an eight-propeller craft that’s ambivalent to orientation, and a swarm of tiny coordinated micro-quadcopters. Filmed February 2016 at TED2016.

 

UAV123 UAS Registration Task Force Recommendations


The UAS Registration Task Force issues its report to the FAA, and industry responds. A free, worldwide UAS course for new users, and package delivery by drone down under.

UAS Registration Task Force

UAS Task Force RecommendationsThe Registration Task Force provided its sUAS registration recommendations [PDF] to the FAA. The FAA will now consider those recommendations, as well as the public comments received, and issue its requirements for registration. If all goes according to the plan, these will come from the FAA this month, in December.

In its final report, the Task Force recommended:

  • Registration for all drones between 250 grams (.55 pounds) and 55 pounds operated outdoors
  • Registration by owner, not by drone. One registration number applies to all your drones.
  • As an alternative, you can instead register by manufacturer serial number.
  • Registration is required by time of flight, not at point of sale.
  • Required information: name and street address.
  • Optional information: email address, phone number.
  • Registration number (or serial number) displayed on each drone.
  • No fee, no citizenship requirement, minimum age 13.
  • Registration should be web-based with the certificate mailed/emailed to registrant.

AMA Reacts to DOT Task Force Recommendations on UAS Registration

The “AMA agrees that registration of UAS makes sense at some level and for flyers operating outside the guidance of a community-based organization or flying for commercial purposes.” But the Academy of Model Aeronautics does not support registration for its membership flying non-commercially.

The organization argues that members operate under a community-based organization: “Adding an additional requirement for AMA members to register at the federal level is contrary to the intent of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Public Law clearly states that the FAA is prohibited from promulgating any new rules for recreational users operating within the safety guidelines of a community-based organization. Congress by no means intended to grant a free pass for individuals who operate model aircraft. Instead, it clearly intended to leave risk mitigation and the development of appropriate safety guidelines for the operation of these devices by the members of the AMA to the nationwide community-based organization.”

DJI Concludes Participation on FAA Drone-Registration Task Force

“We share the concerns of many of the 4,700 people who filed comments that this process was initiated in response to sensational headlines rather than data-based risk assessments, and contradicts the provisions of several federal statutes. Nonetheless, we undertook in good faith the assignment, which was not to argue the law, but to use our expertise and knowledge as the world’s largest drone manufacturer to recommend to the Administrator a national drone registration system intended to be minimally burdensome to consumers and professionals, and effective at the stated goals.”

5 Things to Know About Mandatory Drone Registration

Lia Reich is Senior Director of Communications at PrecisionHawk, and PrecisionHawk was a member of the task force. In this piece, Lia provides some major points concerning the Task Force recommendations, but she also notes that she was on the “Women in Drones” panel at the Drone World Expo in San Jose. The panel discussed some of the ways that women can better influence outcomes in the commercial drone space.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide to Offer Free Online UAS Course for New Users

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide is offering “Unmanned Aerospace Systems (UAS) – Key Concepts for New Users.” The massive open online course (MOOC) runs from Jan. 11 to 24, 2016. Registration opens Dec. 8, 2015.

The MOOC will consist of two 30 to 40-minute pre-recorded presentations, interactive discussion boards, and supporting links and videos. MOOC topics will include:

  • UAS Basics
  • The UAS Operating Environment
  • The National Airspace System (NAS)
  • Understanding the Basic Dos/Don’ts of UAS/Recreational Drone Operations
  • Planning to Fly Safe

Embry-Riddle says, “The primary goal is to educate new UAS users about effective operating procedures that foster safe UAS operations.”

UAV Propulsion Tech Post #13 – UAV’s Spotted at Dubai Airshow 2015

Bob Schmidt, president of UAV Propulsion Tech, attended this year’s Dubai Airshow looking for potential UAV customers for propulsion, servo, autopilot, and rescue/recovery parachute products. Bob’s well-illustrated report describes the UAVs at the airshow, but notes that there weren’t as many UAV exhibitors as he had hoped.  Bob looks forward to the UMEX show (Unmanned Systems Exhibition & Conference) in Abu Dhabi March 6-8, 2016 since this event is focused on UAVs.

Australia Post could soon be delivering packages with drones

Australia Post is trialing package delivery with drones that could be put to use as early as next year. The $10,000 drones will carry 2kg packages up to 25km, although the Post is looking at transporting 10kg packages.

Video of the Week

Flying Drones in rural areas

The Colorado Agricultural Aviation Assoc., Agribotix, UAS Colorado, and Avian conducted a test to see if pilots flying crop-dusting and other low-flying aircraft could see drones flying over the same fields. They could not.

Mentioned

The RoboUniverse Conference and Expo takes place December 14-16, 2015 in San Diego, California. It begins with a half day of interactive tutorials, followed by 2 days of conference sessions and exhibit hall access. Sessions include a drones track and keynote sessions by industry leaders, such as Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics. Other features include Drone Zone demos, an EZDrone Crash Course, and RoboGameChanger startup competition. If you act fast, you can get 10% off the conference price when you use the discount code “DIGEST.”

David participated in the Drone Laws and Technology / Latest TSA Adjustments conversation on Hong Kong’s Radio 3. You can listen to the panel on the Backchat podcast.

UAV120 Drones that Avoid Obstacles

3-D environment mapSystems that allow drones to avoid obstacles, impediments to package delivery by UAV, the UAS registration task force kicks off and gets some help, and interviews and presentations from the UAS Industry Days conference.

News

A Drone with a Sense of Direction

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich has demonstrated a multirotor drone that creates 3-D maps of its environment. The first flight must be manual so the drone can build the map. After that, the drone can fly autonomously in that environment. The system uses stereo camera and sensors, and all data collection and processing is onboard the UAV.

New obstacle avoidance tech lets this drone zip through a thicket at top speed

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has developed an autonomous drone with a detection system that can navigate through obstacles. The software looks ahead 10 meters, detects hazards in the flight path, and adjusts the UAVs trajectory in real time.

Here’s Why Drone Delivery Won’t Be Reality Any Time Soon

Package delivery by drone continues to get a lot of attention. Amazon, Google, and even retail giant Walmart are looking at systems that can move items by UAV. But there are many obstacles to be overcome. David Vanderhoof explains some of the challenges in this Time article.

Statement: UAS Registration Task Force Day One

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta kicked off the UAS Registration Task Force on November 3, 2015. “The FAA briefed participants on the current statutory requirements and international obligations for aircraft registration before the group began initial discussions on a streamlined registration process and minimum requirements for UAS that need to be registered.”

LoBiondo and Larsen Outline Priorities for Proposed FAA Unmanned Aircraft Registry

House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Ranking Member Rick Larsen (WA-02) sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta outlining their top priorities in establishing a national registry for UAS. The letter outlines four priorities that they want the task force to consider:

  1. Streamlined Process
  2. FAA Access to Data
  3. Education and Training
  4. Incentives for Consumers to Register

UAS Industry Days recordings

We have a webpage with the interviews we conducted with speakers, attendees, and exhibitors at the NUAIR Alliance and Empire State Chapter of AUVSI UAS Industry Days conference held September 22-23, 2015. We also have some of the presentations delivered at the conference.

The webpage is http://theUAVdigest.com/UASIndustryDays2015 and you can play the recordings right from that page, or download them and listen later. You will also find a link to photos from the event.

Interviews include Aurora Flight Sciences, Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, ULC Robotics, and Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions. We have presentations from Lisa Ellman of Hogan Lovells, Mark Aitken who is the Federal Government Regulations manager with AUVSI, and Arland Whitfield, president of The Skyworks Project. Also included are recordings of the agriculture and public safety panels.

Video of the Week

Stupidest Drone Crash Ever (w/pumpkin) – I’m a moron

A DJI Phantom 2 visits a pumpkin farm that happens to have a pumpkin cannon. For more of this “sport” visit https://www.punkinchunkin.com/.

 

 

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.

 

UAV079 Volcano!

'GMA' Flies Drone Over Erupting Volcano Live

A drone flies over a volcano for live TV, Alibaba tests drone package delivery, more Section 333 exemptions, drones for real estate, and a poll shows Americans want regulations.

News

‘GMA’ Flies Drone Over Erupting Volcano Live

ABC’s Good Morning America television show flew two quadcopters over the erupting Bardarbunga Volcano in central Iceland. And they broadcast the video live on national TV. Eric Cheng, DJI Director of Aerial Imaging, was on hand to operate the main quadcopter while a chase DJI provided additional coverage.

The live video of the volcano was spectacular. This wasn’t a puff piece – it was a very public demonstration of using a drone for science. With last week’s drone crash on the White House lawn, and now this, public awareness of small drones is increasing.

Alibaba Package Delivery

Alibaba Beats Amazon to Drone Delivery

The Wall Street Journal calls Alibaba, “China’s — and by some measures, the world’s — biggest online commerce company.” With e-commerce activity of $248B, it’s bigger than eBay and Amazon.com combined.

Now Alibaba is conducting a three day package delivery test for customers that are within a one-hour flight by quadcopter from their warehouses in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. They’ve posted a promotional video online.

FAA Grants Eight More UAS Exemptions

Exemptions under Section 333 were issued to Total Safety U.S. Inc. for flare stack inspections, Slugwear, Inc. (dba LikeOnATree Aerial) for aerial photography and surveys. Team 5, LLC;  Shotover Camera Systems LP;  Helinet Aviation Services, LLC;  and Alan D. Purwin were given an exemption for film and television production.  This brings the total number of exemptions to 24.

At the same time, the FAA amended the exemptions previously granted to Pictorvision, Inc. and Aerial MOB, LLC to let the companies fly additional types of small UAS.

As with the last round of exemptions, “the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.”

The FAA says they have received 342 requests for exemptions from commercial entities and individuals.

UAV real estate Co. to expand nationwide following FAA exemption

Real estate video and production firm Burnz Eye View received an exemption from the FAA in January. Mark Burns started the company 3 years ago and has a team of 15 in San Diego. With the exemption, he wants to expand to cover the entire U.S. To do that, he needs pilots. Specifically, UAV operators that have private pilot’s licenses or multi-hour experience flying UAVs. An understanding of platform maintenance will also be needed.

Americans OK with police drones – private ownership, not so much: Poll

A Reuters/Ipsos online poll of 2,000 people conducted Jan. 21-27, 2015 showed that 73 percent of the respondents said they want regulations for small drones. Forty-two percent oppose private ownership of drones. They think they should be restricted to officials or other experts. Thirty percent were OK with private drone ownership, and 28 percent were undecided.

Video of the Week

Seize Des Moines

This interesting aerial tour of Iowa’s capital city was sent in by listener Bill, who raises some questions about the safety of flying in proximity to buildings and crowded events.

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.”