The FAA quickly grants some Part 107 exemptions, drought-stricken agriculture embraces UAS, the Facebook Aquila drone is meeting with some success, and a robot pilot offers to make existing aircraft unmanned.
CNN received a Part 107 waiver from the FAA to fly UAS in the U.S. over people. Previously, CNN had only flown only over unpopulated areas. The newsgathering duties are performed with a small Fotokite Pro tethered quadcopter. Earlier this month CNN announced its Aerial Imagery and Reporting (CNN AIR) unit with two full-time UAS operators.
The Federal Aviation Administration has also given PrecisionHawk an exemption to fly in the U.S. beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). The exemption came on August 29, when Part 107 became effective. PrecisionHawk Executive VP Thomas Haun said, “In agriculture, now that we have an exemption to fly beyond the visual line of sight, we can fly an entire farm, not just one field, efficiently.” The FAA issued 76 waivers on that day, most of them applying to night flying.
In June, Jennifer Youngman was at home cleaning her shotguns. Two men arrived nearby and began flying a drone in the area. Ms. Youngman happens to be a neighbor of actor/director Robert Duvall. When the drone ultimately flew over her property at a height of 25 or 30 feet, she discharged one of her newly cleaned shotguns, much to the distress of the drone.
On his tour of Italy following the recent earthquake which killed hundreds, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with Pope Francis. Zuckerberg presented the Pope with a model of the solar-powered Facebook Aquila drone designed to provide Internet access to regions without connectivity.
Actually, NASA also has aeronautics experts, and those are the ones working on the UTM, the UAS Traffic Management project. NASA has two “A”s.
The severe California drought continues, with dire consequences for farmers growing food. One farmer with a 2,400-acre tomato crop estimates his drones that detect irrigation leaks could save enough water for over 550 families of four for a year. He also started using a thermal camera to show moisture variations in soil, and even established a drone management position at his company. AUVSI (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) says about 2,100 companies and individuals have FAA permission to fly drones for farming.
Instead of designing new planes to be unmanned aircraft, Shim Hyunchul and his colleagues at KAIST (the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) have a different idea: Put a robot in the pilot’s seat. The PIBOT (short for pilot robot) is a humanoid robot with a head, torso, arms and legs. Cameras act as eyes while arms and legs operate the controls like a human pilot.
Videos of the Week
White helium balloons were released as part of a celebration, but the wind changed and carried the balloons into a DJI Phantom. The string from one balloon caught the propellor and down came the drone.
Facebook just announced the first flight of its unmanned, high-altitude Aquila unmanned aircraft.
The first drone to operate under permit inside Australia’s Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park captured the spectacular 600 million-year-old monolith.