Tag Archives: Pathfinder Program

UAV176 The Ion Tiger Fuel Cell-Powered Drone

The Naval Research Laboratory powers a drone with a new fuel cell design, an Amazon patent to identify threats to drones, PrecisionHawk reports on BVLOS technology needs, and the FAA drone registration system reaches its one-year anniversary.

NRL Ion Tiger

Members of the chemistry and tactical electronic warfare divisions from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory with the Ion Tiger unmanned air vehicle. Photo courtesy U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

News

NRL completes first flight of UAV with custom hydrogen fuel cell

Fuel Cell

Scheme of a proton-conducting fuel cell, courtesy Wikipedia.

 

A team from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed and flown the Ion Tiger powered by a new hydrogen fuel cell developed at NRL. The program manager at the Office of Naval Research said, “NRL having the know how to build their own fuel cells in-house gives ONR and the U.S. Navy the understanding and tools needed for transitioning fuel cells to the fleet.”

 

Amazon gets US patent for ‘countermeasures’ to protect drone delivery

Amazon was awarded a technology patent for a system of “countermeasures of threats to an uncrewed autonomous vehicle.”  The system is based on a mesh network and communication between multiple drones that detect possible signs of a compromise.

Precisionhawk Research Outlines Operations Risk for Drones Flying Beyond Line of Sight

Under the FAA Pathfinder Program, PrecisionHawk’s Phase 2 research indicates technology assist is critical for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. PrecisionHawk found that human control is subject to variability and cannot be relied upon exclusively for safe BVLOS flight. Good situational awareness technology is also needed.

Drone Registration Marks First Anniversary

December 21, 2016, marked the one-year anniversary of the FAA web-based drone registration system. More than 600,000 owners have registered and the FAA calls the system “an unqualified success.” Also, “The rule and the registration system were primarily aimed at the thousands of drone hobbyists who had little or no experience with the U.S. aviation system. The agency saw registration as an excellent way to give them a sense of responsibility and accountability for their actions. The agency wanted them to feel they are part of the aviation community, to see themselves as pilots.”

One-Year Anniversary of the FAA’s Drone Registry

Videos of the Week

Watch the 6 Most Innovative Drone Videos of 2016

Time selected six drone videos they considered to be those that most challenged our perspectives:

  1. The Nature Video Perfected
  2. The Destruction of Aleppo
  3. The Construction of Apple Campus 2
  4. The Tight Squeeze Approach
  5. The Single Shot Approach
  6. The Top Down Approach

Human Flying Drone

This super heavy lift multirotor has enough power to lift a man. Filmed in Finland. Be sure to also watch the “behind the scenes” video.

 

UAV117 Don’t Fly UAS Near Airports

SkyPan International

FAA proposes $1.9 million penalty against UAS operator, Pathfinder expanded to detect UAS near airports, NAV Canada wants jail time for flying near airports, detect-and-avoid standards on the way, Boeing tests joined wing body UAS, and DARPA working to develop vanishing drones.

News

FAA Proposes $1.9 Million Civil Penalty Against SkyPan International for Allegedly Unauthorized Unmanned Aircraft Operations

The FAA says aerial photography company SkyPan International “conducted 65 unauthorized operations in some of our most congested airspace and heavily populated cities, violating airspace regulations and various operating rules.” Forty-three of the flights flew in restricted Class B airspace near airports.

According to the FAA, SkyPan flew commercial UAS flights over New York City and Chicago between March 21, 2012 and Dec. 15, 2014 without an aircraft airworthiness certificate, registration, or a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization.

In UAS expert: FAA’s proposed $1.9 million fine is necessary, Christina Engh, the chief operating officer for consulting firm UASolutions Group Inc. said the FAA’s actions should serve as a warning to the industry.

On its website, SkyPan says they have been operating safely for 27 years. They operate only over the private property of clients with single rotor aircraft capable of controlled autorotation descent, and “SkyPan robots are repeatedly tested and were inspected by the FAA in August 2013, deemed to be one of the safest UAV operations in the USA.”

Additionally, SkyPan says they “proactively contacted the FAA in 2005, 2008, and 2010 to explore special permitting for its commercial UAS activity, by discussing regulatory and suggested technical parameters with FAA officials in Illinois, New York and Washington, D.C. and in 2015 was awarded a ‘333’ exemption to the FAA’s blanket ban on commercial UAS operation.”

FAA Expands Unmanned Aircraft Pathfinder Efforts

The FAA entered into a Pathfinder agreement with CACI International Inc. to evaluate how the company’s sensor technology can help detect UAS in the vicinity of airports.

The FAA’s UAS Pathfinder initiative creates research partnerships with industry to explore next steps beyond the types of operations described in the sUAS NPRM.

John Mengucci, CACI’s Chief Operating Officer and President of U.S. Operations said, “The agreement provides a proven way to passively detect, identify, and track UAS… and their ground-based operators, in order to protect airspace from inadvertent or unlawful misuse of drones near U.S. airports.”

The FAA will select airports where CACI’s prototype UAS sensor detection system will be evaluated at airports.

NAV Canada CEO: ‘Jail time’ needed for reckless UAV operators

Speaking about recreational UAVs flown within 5 miles of airports, NAV Canada president and CEO John Crichton said operators should be subject to criminal penalties. “Why don’t we go out and catch a few people?” he said.

First Interim Standards for Unmanned Aircraft Detect-and-Avoid Released

An RTCA Special Committee released interim minimum operational performance standards (MOPS) for the detect-and-avoid system and command-and-control data link. The RTCA is chartered by the FAA to operate Federal advisory committees. It develops minimum performance standards that form the basis for FAA regulatory requirements.

The performance standards don’t apply to sUAS, only to civil UAVs flying to and from Class A controlled airspace (above 18,000 ft.) under instrument flight rules. The MOPS specifies sensors to detect other aircraft and provide operators on the ground with awareness and guidance. It’s run with ADS-B, TCAS, and radar. Release of the final document release is planned for 2016.

A uniquely shaped unmanned aerial vehicle undergoes tests

Boeing is testing a rigid wing version of a joined-wing UAV. Ultimately, a flexible wing version is planned for long duration surveillance missions.

The Military’s ICARUS Project Wants To Build Delivery Drones That Vanish Into Thin Air

Under DARPA’s Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program, “degradable” electronic systems physically disappear in a controlled, triggerable manner to prevent them from being captured by enemies. The DARPA Inbound Controlled Air-Releasable Unrecoverable Systems (ICARUS) project builds on VAPR to create drones that disappear after completing their mission.

How? With “polymer panels that sublimate directly from a solid phase to a gas phase, and electronics-bearing glass strips with high-stress inner anatomies that can be readily triggered to shatter into ultra-fine particles after use.”

Mentioned

Police: Drone crashes, burns in Sag Harbor

A multirotor burned on the sidewalk after crashing into two buildings.

UK firms develop drone-freezing ray

The Anti-UAV Defense System (AUDS) jams the communications signal for a drone, making it unresponsive.

Anti-drone rifle shoots down UAVs with radio waves

Battelle’s DroneDefenderTM is a “rapid-to-use counter-weapon to stop suspicious or hostile drones in flight.”

Senate bill criminalizes ‘reckless’ drone flights

The Safe Drone Act from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) would make it a crime to fly recklessly near restricted airspace.

Polish Air Force F-16 Jet Collided with Drone

Ground crews discovered damage to the airframe protective coating and to the fuel tank during post-flight checks.

Drone activity ‘raises risk’ for pilots, firefighters as bush-fire season nears

With the annual bush-fire season approaching in Australia, authorities there are concerned about people flying drones near bush-fires.

 

UAV093 AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference

The WATT tethered drone

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

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) held its Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference May 4-7 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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.”

Speech – “UAS Pathfinder Program Announcement Press Conference”

Press Release – FAA-Industry Initiative Will Expand Small UAS Horizons

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 to work with FAA on UAV extended line-of-sight safety

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.

AUVSI: New tethered UAV for CNN

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

At the AUVSI Conference, Tim Trott from Southern Helicam caught up with Jay Willmott, Founder and President of unmanned technology consultancy Nexutech.

Vortex UAS

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

Surf the world’s most extraordinary waves with drone videos

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.

Good Morning, San Diego!

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.