Tag Archives: precision agriculture

UAV179 Online UAS Training Offerings

Online UAS training from well-respected providers, a UAV traffic control project in Germany, the FAA levies the largest ever civil penalty for UAV operation, a jet-fueled UAV endurance record, and companies collaborating for agriculture applications.

Vanilla Aircraft VA001

The VA001 10-day Endurance UAS, courtesy Vanilla Aircraft

UAV News

King Schools Announces Unmanned Aircraft Knowledge Course

Embry-Riddle Offers UAV Basics Class Online

The names John and Martha King are synonymous with high-quality pilot training. Now King Schools offers a Drone Pilot Ground School and Test Prep Course that was jointly created with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The online course covers everything you need to prepare for the FAA knowledge test and costs $99.

Meanwhile, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) has a free online course February 6 through February 19 called “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) – Key Concepts for New Users.” The course will be taught in the “massive open online course” (MOOC) format and is open to an unlimited number of students, worldwide.

The ERAU course “…covers key concepts related to small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS)/recreational drones, including basic types/groups, capabilities, and current and future uses. Particular emphasis is placed on the safety of flight within the National Airspace System (NAS), including where to find the online flight planning tools to help make every flight as safe as possible. The MOOC also introduces the FAA’s new regulations (FAA Part 107) for sUAS operators who wish to operate commercially.”

Buckling Down On UAV Traffic Control

A UAV traffic control project is forming in Germany to develop technologies for the safe integration of unmanned aircraft in air traffic. Participants include air traffic control company DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung (the company in charge of air traffic control for Germany), as well as Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Post DHL Group, and RWTH Aachen University.

The project will:

  • Develop a prototype for a UAS traffic management system.
  • See if the Deutsche Telekom’s mobile network can be used to connect UAS.
  • Test package delivery in urban areas using autonomous aircraft, building on DHL’s success with the DHL Parcelcopter.
  • Investigate three UAS use cases: fire-fighting, agriculture, and logistics.

FAA and Skypan International, Inc., Reach Agreement on Unmanned Aircraft Enforcement Cases

In Episode 117 we reported that the FAA was considering a $1.9 million civil penalty against aerial photography company SkyPan International for conducting unauthorized operations over New York City and Chicago. Now the FAA and SkyPan have reached a settlement:

  • SkyPan will pay a $200,000 civil penalty and pay an additional $150,000 if it violates Federal Aviation Regulations in the next year.
  • SkyPan will work with the FAA to release three public service announcements in the next 12 months to support the FAA’s public outreach campaigns that encourage drone operators to learn and comply with UAS regulations.
  • SkyPan will pay an additional $150,000 if it fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.

Jet fuel-powered UAV completes record 56-hour flight, with plenty left in the tank

Virginia-based Vanilla Aircraft, LLC announced that their VA001 unmanned aircraft system completed a non-stop, unrefueled 56-hour flight conducted at New Mexico State University’s Unmanned Air Systems Flight Test Center. The flight was submitted for a world duration record for combustion-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the 50-500 kg subclass. The flight was planned as a 120-hour mission, but ended early due to forecasted severe icing and range restrictions. However, the VA001 landed with enough JP-8 fuel on board for an additional 90 hours of flying.

Agribotix and senseFly Announce Agricultural Drone & Data Processing Solution

Agribotix and senseFly are combining their resources to offer agriculture a professional solution. The senseFly eBee SQ fixed wing agricultural drone is designed to capture crop data across four multispectral bands, plus RGB imagery, while covering hundreds of acres in a single flight. The eBee SQ is compatible with Farm Management Information Systems (FMIS). You can find the eBee SQ on the Agribotix website, along with the Agrion quadcopter. Agribotix is strong in agricultural data acquisition and analytics.

UAV Video of the Week

Drone Trippin on AirVūz

Drone Trippin is a new series on AirVūz with four of the world’s top FPV pilots flying around gorgeous backdrops, ripping through abandoned structures, and racing through breathtaking locations. Started December 2016. AirVūz was launched in late 2015 as a video-sharing platform for the drone community. It includes user-generated content and original programming.

Mentioned

Top Drone Websites On The Internet 2017

 

 

 

UAV170 UAS for Precision Agriculture

We talk with the founder of a company that provides drones for precision agriculture.

The AgEagle RX60

The AgEagle RX60

Guest

Bret Chilcott founded AgEagle Aerial Systems in 2013 as a spin-off of a Kansas State University research project. AgEagle provides data acquisition drones for precision agriculture. They are an FAA Section 333 exemption holder, and their drone technology captures aerial images of crop health. Bret is a private pilot and prior to founding the company, he held sales and marketing positions with Cessna Aircraft and Cobalt Boats.

CEO Bret ChilcottBret describes how drones can help growers achieve their precision agriculture objectives. He gives us some insight into the state of the market and how farmers view the new technology. We talk about using AgEagle’s drone technology to quickly capture aerial images of crop health, and how the resulting prescription map identifies areas of stress such as disease and pests or improper irrigation. Growers can then utilize their equipment more efficiently, reduce costs, increase crop yields, and minimize environmental impact.

The AgEagle fixed-wing RX60 is a durable, lightweight, professional-grade drone. It’s electric-powered, encased in carbon fiber, with a flight time of about one hour. The RX60 can capture aerial NIR/NDVI maps of 300 acres or more per flight for image acquisition supporting precision agriculture growers and agronomists.

Find AgEagle Aerial Systems, Inc. at AgEagle.com, be sure to visit them on Facebook, and follow the AgEagle YouTube channel.

108-2 Stinson

Bret’s 108-2 Stinson, “Charlie”

UAV156 AT&T Using Drones to Benefit Customers

Cell coverage provided by drones, sUAS conflicting with aerial applicators, controlling swarms with your mind, another package delivery milestone by Flirtey, a drone pilot is arrested, and using drones to find old land mines.

A Bird’s Eye View of AT&T’s Drone Inspection Program

A Bird’s Eye View of AT&T’s Drone Inspection Program

News

Better cell service for responders when COWs fly

AT&T uses Cell On Wheels (COW) equipment to temporarily add cell capacity for large events, or bring coverage to disaster scenes. Now the company is looking at a new kind of COW that used drones: Cell On Wings. In the company blog, Drones Taking Our Network to New Heights, AT&T says, “We’re researching how in-flight drones can use our LTE network to send large amounts of data in real-time. This capability may benefit areas such as insurance, farming, facility and asset inspections, and even delivery service companies.” AT&T is already using drones to perform cell tower inspections. (Video above.)

New UAV rules should help farmers, ag businesses

Most groups with an interest in using sUAS commercially are in favor of the Part 107 rules, including the agriculture business. But the National Agricultural Aviation Association thinks “the FAA set the bar a little low” when it comes to safety and certification requirements.

Note: The Small UAS Rule (Part 107), including all pilot and operating rules, will be effective on August 29, 2016. These resources are provided by the FAA:

Control a swarm of drones with your mind

Arizona State University is researching technology that allows human brainwaves to control up to four robot vehicles. Electrodes on a skullcap pick up electrical brain activity, software processes the data, and the drones are controlled via a Bluetooth connection. ASU says that to make the drones move, the operator watches on a monitor, and thinks and pictures the drones performing various tasks.

7-Eleven makes food deliveries with Flirtey UAS

Flirtey 7-Eleven package deliveryFlirtey and 7-Eleven announced they have completed the first fully autonomous, FAA-approved drone delivery to two residential homes in Reno, Nevada. The Flirtey drone delivered a 7-Eleven chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee, and Slurpees. The Flirtey drone hovered over the residents’ backyards and lowered the packages. The two companies plan to expand their delivery services in the future.

Drone pilot arrested at JFK Airport

A 52-year old man was arrested for flying a drone within 50 feet laterally of a jet, and 20 feet below it. The drone was spotted by the pilot on approach about 4 miles from the airport.

Afghan brothers launch new mine-hunting drone

Mine Kafon DroneTwo former Afghan refugees are developing technology that would allow a drone to safely sweep an area and destroy old land mines. The UAS would use ground penetrating radar and metal detectors to locate the mines. A small charge could then be placed by the drone and detonated remotely. The brothers are using a Kickstarter campaign to fund the Mine Kafon Drone.

 

Video of the Week

Martin Mars – View From a Drone

The beautiful Martin Mars, originally a four-engined cargo transport seaplane, now used for water drops to fight wildfires. This video shows the airplane at AirVenture Oshkosh 2016.

 

 

UAV148 Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy

A manned aircraft manufacturer looks ahead to UAS, whale-watching drones, ADS-B for UAS, a report on U.S. drone retail sales, and the U.S. Commerce Department issues privacy guidelines.

News

Air Tractor® Makes Entry into the UAS Market – Acquires Yield Defender

Air Tractor, Inc. produces a number of manned agricultural aircraft: 400, 500, 600 and 800-gallon capacity airplanes powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turbine engines. But they’ve seen the future, and it’s unmanned, so they’ve purchased Hangar 78 UAV and its Yield Defender unmanned aerial system.

Yield Defender DronesAir Tractor President Jim Hirsch says, “We have done our research, and it’s clear that aggressively investing and further developing unmanned aerial systems into agriculture will enable Air Tractor to remain an industry leader and provide the latest technology to ag producers as UAS capabilities mature and are integrated into the industry.”
Yield Defender UAS systems are engineered for the agriculture industry. Their UAS has Near Infrared (NIR) sensors, thermal imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology.

PWWA looks toward regulations of whale watching drones

The Pacific Whale Watch Association wants to make sure whales remain wild. They recognize the research value of drones, but they don’t know if hobby drones disturb whales. Additionally, they say current laws are vague or don’t exist. For now, PWWA asks drone operators to follow the Whale Wise Guidelines: stay at least 200 yards outside the perimeter of a whale or pod, and more than 400 yards from the path of a traveling pod.

Obstacles Appear to Extending GPS-Based ADS-B for UAV Operations

Inside GNSS published a comprehensive article that looks at issues and possible solutions for using the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system on unmanned aircraft. The FAA has mandated installation of the ADS-B system in manned aircraft by 2020.

Obstacles to using ADS-B on UAVs include: cost, weight, and large numbers of drone flights. Also, many areas in the U.S. do not have ADS-B coverage below 500 feet.

Harris Corporation, the FAA’s prime contractor for ADS-B, announced ADS-B Xtend, a dual-band receiver and relay system that can be installed in areas without close-to-the-ground ADS-B capabilities. It provides UAV operators with aircraft tracking data, maps, and weather information.

Harris is partnering with PrecisionHawk to include information from the Low Altitude Tracking and Avoidance System or LATAS, which uses cellular networks. The Xtend ground receivers have a 150-mile range, and they can be attached to existing structures or even to mobile vehicles for roaming coverage.

Drone dollar sales for the past 12 months were three times higher than sales from prior year

Top selling drone brandsRetail research firm The NPD Group released a report that says for the twelve months ending in April, drone sales have grown 224 percent year-over-year to nearly $200 million.

Drones with 4K cameras accounted for more than one-third of dollar sales, and drones with built-in GPS accounted for 64 percent of revenue. Drones with an average price greater than $500 accounted for 56 percent of dollar sales and drones sold during the 2015 holiday season increased 445 percent from the prior year.

Privacy fears: Panel has advice for drone operators

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has released the 8-page Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability. [PDF] The best practices are directed to both commercial and non-commercial drone users.

The document describes voluntary best practices, many relating to the collection of “Covered Data,” or information collected by a UAS that identifies a particular person. Due to First Amendment issues, the guidelines do not apply to newsgathering and news reporting organizations. The appendix lists eight guidelines for “Neighborly Drone Use.”

Video of the Week

Drone Roof Inspection

In this video, listener Ken Krantz uses a drone to inspect his solar panels and pool heating apparatus, with a little humor thrown in. The inspection actually revealed a broken item in need of repair. Ken tells us, “I should point out that, before this flight, I called my local tower and filled out a DROTAM that included the time of my flight, the max altitude (I specified 150’) and a number I could be reached at should they need to retract the DROTAM permission. AND, of course, I have an FAA UAS registration number affixed to the craft.”

Mentioned

UAV Propulsion Tech is a sponsor of The UAV Digest, and President Bob Schmidt has created a LinkedIn group called UAV Tech, “a networking group for technical people in the unmanned aerial vehicle industry. It will focus on advanced technology for UAV’s like: propulsion, payloads, servos, autopilots, sense/avoid, launch/recovery, generators, parachutes, airframes, materials, applications, and testing.” Group membership is by request.

New drone racing sport taking off in Utah

Patrick sent us this article that describes how a man who bought a toy quadcopter for his son ended up designing custom drones and became involved with Drones, Etc., an online business founded in early 2013 by two professional aerial enthusiasts.

 

 

 

 

UAV104 Monarch Inc. Founder and CEO Eileen Shibley

Monarch Inc.We talk with the founder and CEO of a startup that is providing commercial UAS services for precision agriculture and other industries.

Guest

Eileen Shibley

Eileen Shibley is the founder and CEO of Monarch, Inc. Monarch designs, engineers, and manufactures unmanned commercial aerial systems for the agriculture, energy, and land survey industries. Eileen incorporated Monarch, Inc. in 2014, and her team began providing customers with small UAS for the purposes of high tech aerial mapping.

Monarch uses a combination of robotic aircraft, unique cameras, and advanced software to provide customers with detailed maps of land and objects below. Monarch corporate headquarters, showroom, and factory are based in Ridgecrest, California.

Before founding Monarch, Eileen had a 30-year career with the U.S. Department of Defense where she was a strong advocate for unmanned systems in the Navy. She and her team created the world’s first integrated battle space (IBAR). She also served two assignments in Washington D.C. as China Lake’s liaison and advocate for technological advancement.

Discussion

We talk about the products and services that Monarch provides, the industries it supports, and the hardware and software being developed and used by the Monarch team. Eileen explains how she was involved in the project to have California designated as one of the six FAA UAS test sites, and when that was unsuccessful, how Monarch came to be formed out of the passion for the emerging industry.

Eileen tells us about her experience obtaining a Section 333 exemption from the FAA for precision agriculture. Monarch has also received Certificate of Waiver Authorizations (COAs) to operate their quadcopters within a California State Park in order to research and map an historical site:

Monarch, Inc. Named in Two COAs Granted to California State Parks; Uses to Include Exploration of Landmark Gold-Mining Ghost Town

Eileen offers her thoughts on “rogue” operators who offer commercial services without benefit of proper FAA authorization. Monarch actively works to grow community awareness and we touch on training and on industry self-regulation vs. being regulated by others. Eileen also provides some advice for those thinking about starting a business that uses UAVs as a tool.

Monarch in the field

Mentioned

These beginner books can help you select your first quadcopter and learn to fly:

 

UAV095 A Hydrogen Powered Quadcopter

Horizon Unmanned Systems HycopterA drone powered by a fuel-cell, UAS use policy for police, a defensive anti-drone system, UAS training at a community college and at Textron Systems, a backup system for GPS, and the Commercial UAS Modernization Act.

News

Hycopter Drone Flies for 4 Hours via Hydrogen Power

The Hycopter drone from Singapore-based Horizon Unmanned Systems (HUS) uses a hydrogen fuel cell for power. Four liters of hydrogen are stored in the hollow frame, and are converted to electric power to run the motors. This power source saves weight and allows a four hour flight time, two and a half hours with a 2.2-pound payload.

Police chiefs group offers drone-use policy

In 2012, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Aviation Committee created Recommended Guidelines for the use of Unmanned Aircraft [PDF]. Since then, the Association has worked to develop policy which covers drone deployment, restrictions on use, data retention, and training.

Three UK companies to develop new anti-UAV defence system

Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics, and Enterprise Control Systems are developing a fully integrated anti-UAV defence system (AUDS). This system combines Ku band electronic scanning air security radar, a stabilised electro-optic director, infrared and daylight cameras, and target tracking software. The AUDS also utilizes a directional radio frequency inhibitor and jammer system.

The new system is intended to address threats from malicious micro, mini, and larger UAVs at ranges of up to 8km in remote sites or urban areas and operating from fixed locations or mobile platforms.

Sinclair receives first community college FAA UAS exemption

The FAA has granted a Section 333 exemption to the Sinclair UAS Training and Certification Center. The exemption allows Sinclair Community College in Dayton Ohio to conduct commercial training and research and development in areas such as sensor integration and testing. It also lets the college expand their commercial focus on precision agriculture, geospatial information, and first responder training.

The Training and Certification Center also intends to publish a Journal of Unmanned Aerial Systems twice a year as an online peer-reviewed publication

Textron Systems Launches Unmanned Systems Training Catalog

Textron Systems Support Solutions has announced an unmanned systems training catalog with a range of unmanned systems coursework. The curricula included classroom and hands-on training using customized materials and training aids. They’ll tailor the training to your language, skill level, platforms, and applications. Training can be delivered to your choice of location for both military and commercial missions.

US Weighs UAS-Friendly GPS Backup System

Girish Chowdhary, an engineering professor at the Oklahoma State University, explains that GPS “…is not a very high integrity signal” and can easily be jammed or overpowered. Enhanced Loran (or eLoran) would cover the continental United States with a low-frequency navigation signal. eLoran signals are 1.3 million times stronger than GPS signals, and nearly impossible to jam. This system is already operating in Europe and parts of Asia.

Senators Booker and Hoeven Introduce the Commercial UAS Modernization Act to Streamline Drone Integration

On May 12, 2015, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act. This would establish an interim rule governing sUAS operations until the regulations proposed in the NPRM are finalized.

The act gives the FAA some flexibility on visual-line-of-sight (VLOS), and reduces the regulatory burden for commercial operators. It also creates a new Deputy Associate Administrator for Unmanned Aircraft at the FAA. The intent is to streamline the integration of UAS in the United States.

Video of the Week

Flood rescue drama in Johnson County

A DJI Inspire 1 delivers a leader rope to a family trapped in their home by flood waters.

Mentioned

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international digital-rights organization, produced a map of the United States showing 81 public entities that have applied for FAA drone-use authorizations.

Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display

Be sure to join us at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display (formerly Become a Pilot Day) June 20, 2015 at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA next to Dulles Airport. Bring your family and friends to this amazing aviation event. We’ll be in the Museum at the Airplane Geeks banner and we’d love for you to stop by and say hello!

Skywalker FPV, Getting wet in the clouds

A drone flies up above the clouds into airspace where it should not be.

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.

 

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.

News

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?

UAV089 New Quadcopters from DJI and 3DR

3D RoboticsDJI and 3D Robotics introduce new quadcopters, more FAA exemptions, EASA looking at RPAS regulations, and export control implications for drones.

News

The World’s Largest Drone Company Unveils Newest Product DJI Phantom 3

DJI introduced the Phantom 3 in two models, the Professional at $1259 and the Advanced at $999. The Professional offers a 1080P 4K camera. Both come with the Lightbridge Technology offering real-time HD Video from up to a mile away. The DJI app now includes a flight simulator.

3D Robotics teases stylish drone with pro features

3DR - Dawn

 

3D Robotics released a teaser video for a new quadcopter to be introduced April 13th. It looks like the styling team took a page from the DJI Phantom book. Engadget believes it will have first person view out of the box, a pre-programmable flying route, perhaps follow-me settings, and a new gimbal design.

 

3D Robotics Launches DroneKit, Its API For Building Drone Apps

A few weeks ago, 3D Robotics launched “DroneKit,” an open-source API for writing drone apps. It works with any drone that uses its APM autopilot. With the API, developers can write web-based and mobile apps, as well as apps written in Python that run on the drone itself.

FAA Grants 30 New Commercial UAS Exemptions

The FAA approved 30 more commercial UAS exemptions, including exemptions for insurance companies USAA and AIG. In a press release (FAA Approves Drone Petition), USAA says, “The Federal Aviation Administration approved USAA’s petition on April 2 to conduct research and development on its new unmanned aircraft system (UAS) program to better serve members, especially after catastrophes.”

The FAA approved USAA’s use of a PrecisionHawk drone for daytime, line-of-sight flights under 400 feet with a trained pilot. USAA will work with PrecisionHawk to develop best practices, safety and privacy protocols, and procedures for future operational use.

In another press release (It’s Wheels Up with ‘Transformative Technology’) written before the petition was submitted, USAA provides some examples of the applications they have in mind:

“We’re constantly seeking ways to better serve our members, especially during catastrophes, when getting into neighborhoods immediately after can be dangerous to human life, and applying new technologies is one way we can do that,” says Alan Krapf, president, USAA property and casualty insurance group.

USAA has teamed up with Texas A&M University to research and develop how to effectively put UAS to work for its members. This is being conducted with the University’s Roboticists Without Borders and Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR).

Also granted exemptions were AeroVironment for agriculture, aerial survey, and patrol applications, and senseFly for precision agriculture.

The total number of approved exemptions is now 99. The FAA has received 700 applications.

EASA Presents its Vision for the Future of the Aviation Regulatory System

EASA (the European Aviation Safety Agency) published an ‘EASA Opinion’ with proposals for the future of the aviation regulatory system. They include proposals for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPASs).

As part of implementing a General Aviation Road Map, EASA proposes to amend existing regulations to introduce, “…the necessary flexibility for small, low-risk GA as well as for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPASs) by introducing provisions which will allow possible deviations from existing requirements, where appropriate.”

US policy on the export of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS): a detailed look and analysis

The U.S. Department of State conducted a UAS policy review and has issued a new policy that governs the export and subsequent use of commercial and military unmanned systems. The new policy could allow export of weaponized UAS to U.S. allies, under certain circumstances and uses.

The policy also could also allow export of more types of commercial UAS to other countries, subject to compliance with U.S. laws and regulations and applicable multilateral commitments.

The U.S. Export Policy for Military Unmanned Aerial Systems fact sheet contains additional information.

In the United States, there are two sets of export regulations that would apply to drones, related components, systems, software, and technology:

U.S. exporters of drones, related systems, and technologies should pay close attention to these regulations.

Video of the Week

3DR – Dawn of the Aerial Age

3D Robotics teaser of their new quadcopter to be unveiled April 13, 2015.

Mentioned

Listener Bill sends in How SDG&E trains drone operators to help restore power.

San Diego Gas & Electric becomes the first utility company approved by the FAA to use unmanned aircraft systems. The company is looking at applications for its 26,000 miles of power lines.

Reminder

Visit http://theUAVdigest.com/nprm and you’ll be redirected to the regulations.gov web page where you can find the NPRM and submit your comments online on or before April 24, 2015.

UAV075 Charge Your Drone on a Pad

Skysense charging pad

A charging pad for your drone, USAF Unmanned Systems faces a huge manpower problem, real estate and agriculture gain FAA exemptions, timeline for ICAO RPAS standards, and UAS in Canada.

News

New Charging Pad for Parrot Drones Changes the Way You Charge Your Batteries

The portable Skysense Charging Pad is said to support nearly all existing multicopters and VTOL aircraft. Plug the Pad into an electrical outlet, land your drone on the Pad, and your batteries will charge at the same rate as your regular charging cable. Pads are available in different widths and should ship next month.

Skysense also offers the Droneport, “a protective closed structure that is managed remotely and can hold a Skysense Charging Pad and your drone. It also provides synching of sensor data to the cloud and connectivity within your Skysense Droneport network.”

Drone War pushes pilots to the Breaking Point

The U.S, Department of Defense wants 61 Combat Air Patrols (CAP) per day by April 15. Each CAP requires four Predators or Reapers for 24-hour coverage. These require ten “men” per drone per CAP, for a total of forty. With a shortage of drone pilots, the crews have high workload and low morale.

FAA Grants Real Estate, Agricultural UAS Exemptions

The FAA granted two exemptions on January 6. One was to Douglas Trudeau with Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona. Their DJI Phantom 2+ quad will be used to “enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos.”

The second exemption was to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, Washington. Their fixed wing senseFly eBee will fly to take “photographic measurements and perform crop scouting for precision agriculture.”

Both still need a COA “that ensures the airspace for their proposed operations is safe, and that they have taken proper steps to see and avoid other aircraft. In addition, the COAs will mandate flight rules and timely reporting of any accident or incidents.”

The FAA has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

ICAO Panel Will Recommend First UAV Standards in 2018

The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) new Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Panel is focusing “on development of standards and recommended practices (SARPs) for adoption by the Council of ICAO in 2018 related to airworthiness, operations (including RPAS operator certification) and licensing of remote pilots.” Detect and avoid regulations are to follow in 2020.

Cameraman hit with $1,000 fine for filming with drone

The co-founder of a Canadian video and photography company that uses drones was fined by Transport Canada after a real estate shoot. He’s fighting the fine, saying that Transport Canada’s rules on flying unmanned aerial aircraft are not clear.

City man has high hopes for school for drone pilots

Buoyant Aircraft Systems International in Winnipeg wants to develop a flight school for UAV pilots. They plan to take the idea to Transport Canada’s UAV working group in April for approval, and could be teaching by August, if approved.

Video of the Week 

Coast Guard Helo takes out drone

In August 2014, a hurricane caused heavy surf off the coast of California. That brought out body surfers, boogie boarders, and surfers, along with thousands of spectators and some camera-equipped quadcopters. One of the copters didn’t fare too well in the Coast Guard helicopter downdraft.

Mentioned

50 Things You Can Do With A Drone

Some applications you’ve seen before, some you haven’t, and some you shouldn’t.