Tag Archives: privacy

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.

 

 

 

 

UAV109 Who has the Right to Write Drone Laws?

Dr. Ella Atkins in the Autonomous Aerospace Systems (A2SYS) Lab

We talk with Dr. Ella Atkins about UAS privacy regulations, regulatory and legislative jurisdiction over the airspace, developing a drone safety culture, and UAS air traffic management challenges.

Guest

Dr. Ella Atkins is an Associate Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, where she is director of the Autonomous Aerospace Systems (A2SYS) Lab.

Dr. Ella AtkinsElla received her BS and MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her MS and PhD in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan.

Her research focuses on task and motion planning, guidance, and control to support increasingly autonomous systems, with a focus on small UAS and aviation safety applications.  She has an extensive history of successful collaboration with NASA.

Ella has authored over 150 journal and conference publications and has served long-term as an associate editor of the AIAA Journal of Aerospace Information Systems (JAIS). She has served on numerous review boards and panels, including the 2013 NRC committee to develop a research agenda for autonomy in civil aviation, the NRC Aeronautics Roundtable, NRC NASA Aviation Safety program review board, and Decadal Survey of Aeronautics (Panel E).

Ella is past-chair of the AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee, AIAA Associate Fellow, IEEE senior member, small public airport owner/operator (Shamrock Field, Brooklyn, MI), and a private pilot. She serves on the National Academy’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) (2011-2017) and was a member of the IDA Defense Science Studies Group (2012-2013).  She currently serves on the steering committee and as Graduate Program Chair to the new University of Michigan Robotics Program.

The Flying Robots video features Professor Ella Atkins describing the unusual unmanned aircraft that are being built at the University of Michigan Aerospace Department.

UAS Privacy Regulations

Should we create privacy rules specifically for UAS, rather than dealing with privacy more broadly? Privacy is already covered under existing ground-based laws, and new technology doesn’t necessarily imply a requirement for new laws.

Peeping drones: UAV caught creeping on Vancouver sunbather

A woman sunbathing topless on her private balcony says a quadcopter tried to take pictures of her.

Regulatory and Legislative Jurisdiction over the Airspace

Who controls what airspace: the federal regulatory agency or State or local communities? The FAA has claimed purview over all the airspace, but the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Causby stated that landowners own and control the “immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere” just above their properties. More discussion is needed about the low-altitude airspace and the ability of local communities to create their own standards based on their local situation.

Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law Landscape

In 2015, 45 states considered 156 bills that were related to drones. In total, 26 states have enacted drone laws, and six more states adopted resolutions.

Austin, TX Requires PPL For UAV Flying

Austin, Texas now requires a private pilot certificate to fly a UAV. However, one can fly if they have a document indicating permission from the property owner.

Developing a Drone Safety Culture

The lack of common-sense rules at any government level is resulting in anarchy.  Manufacturers claim they can “stay out of legal trouble” by marketing to hobbyists who are unregulated and who don’t know where to fly.

Some solutions:

  • Achieving a drone safety culture requires that manufacturers, commercial operators, and regular citizens learn responsible behaviors. “Know Before You Fly” will gradually catch on once we make it through a generation that grows up with drones.
  • Creating “drone parks” in urban areas would give people a place to freely fly.  Right now hobbyists really don’t have guidelines of where to go (apart from rural AMA fields which were typically designed for fixed-wing model aircraft) so they fly wherever they like.
  • Focus separately on “safety” and “privacy,” otherwise the solutions may not make sense. For example, it may be safe to fly over a large open field, but the landowner may not want to be filmed at low altitude.  Or, everyone might want great aerial views of a public concert in the park, but such flights are very risky until we are really confident the drones won’t have problems and crash into the crowds.

Pilots Who Fly Drones Into Wildfires Are Idiots. Punish Them

Kentucky Man Faces up to 10 Years in Prison for Shooting Drone Trespasser

License Plates for Drones Could Make Rogue Operators Accountable

University of California, Berkeley researchers have developed LightCense, a low altitude identification system for drones. The hope is that it would make drone operators more accountable.

Air Traffic Management

Recent proposals for management of unmanned commercial traffic involve altitude layering. But those do not contemplate the immediate reaches above the landowners, or what may be on the ground below.

This presents challenges, such as dealing with commercial drone entries into immediate reaches (landowner-controlled) airspace, and integrating drones into airspace clearly needed for manned flight operations. It may be appropriate to reconsider the 500 foot altitude line of demarcation, and also to add an “immediate reaches” layer.

A “drone highway in the sky” would not necessarily follow a ground-based road network. The real question is whether a low-altitude “highway in the sky” would be designated and “taken with compensation” like our ground-based roads, or whether the “sky” will be “taken without compensation.”

Compounding the difficulties in resolving these issues is the problem that people are very polarized – they either “love” or “hate” drones. A more informed public view would almost certainly be more moderate and reasonable.

Do We Really Want Amazon’s Drones to Swarm Our Skies?

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan offers opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students: student team competitions, undergraduate or graduate research projects, and course projects.

Design and use of UAS can be found in the engineering, aerospace, robotics, and computer science departments. Others such as civil engineering, architecture, biology, and journalism do not design UAS or their software, but they have begun to use UAS to support their research and education activities.

UAV096 DOJ Drone Privacy Guidelines

The SpriteDOJ privacy guidelines for agencies using drones, dumb drone flying, a drone-only store, interesting Kickstarter drone projects, NOAA says don’t mix drones and whales, drones as a tool for football practice, and a drone film festival.

News

What the Justice Department’s New Drone Rules Mean for Your Privacy

On May 22, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice announced agency-wide guidelines that set standards for the domestic use of UAS. These apply to the United States Marshals Service, FBI, DEA, and ATF.

In its announcement, the DOJ says, “The policy highlights protections of privacy, civil rights and liberties and makes clear that UAS use must be consistent with the protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution.  Justice Department components are barred from using UAS solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment, and components can only operate UAS on properly authorized investigations and activities.  The collection, retention and dissemination of information collected by UAS is also subject to Privacy Act protections.”

Here’s Some of the Dumb Stuff People Did With Drones Last Year

Last November the FAA released a list of 193 incidents of “drone misbehavior” reported to air traffic control officials in 2014. Incidents reported to law enforcement were not included so the actual count is most likely higher.

Drone Crashes, Hits 2 People During Marblehead Parade

A drone flying over a Memorial Day parade in Massachusetts lost control, crashed into a building, and hit two people – a woman on the shoulder and a man on the back of the head leaving some minor cuts. According to a police report, the drone operator was very apologetic and embarrassed. The FAA is investigating the crash.

Drones-only store opens in Beaverton

Beaverton Town Square in Oregon is now home to Drones Plus, a business featuring DJI drones. The store manager says they’ve had 1,500 people come in over the course of about three weeks. Drones Plus opened its first retail venture 1 1/2 years ago in Las Vegas, and now has stores in Los Angeles, Seattle, Toronto, and Studio City, California.

Meet Aexo and Sprite, New Rugged Camera Drones That Look Like Something Else Entirely

Two Kickstarter projects caught our attention:

  • The Sprite is a portable, rugged, vertical tube UAV with counter-rotating rotors. It’s waterproof and floats, with a high impact airframe and a high-def camera on a 1-axis gimbal. A 2-axis GoPro mount is available. From Ascent Aerosystems.

NOAA Says Drone Pilots Can’t Film Endangered Whales

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put us on notice: Approaching by any means within 500 yards of a species “protected under the Endangered Species Act and the regulations governing Endangered Marine and Anadromous Species” is a violation. That includes using a drone to take video of a North Atlantic right whale, which someone did and posted on YouTube.

A NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent said, “We try to take an education and outreach approach and ask for people’s cooperation before we move forward with any enforcement action. The video itself could actually give the impression that it’s okay to engage in that type of behavior.”

He also said, “If you cause the animal stress, cause a change in its behavior, or cause the animal to try to interact with the drone, you run the risk of breaking the law.”

Cowboys Using Drones In Practice

The Dallas Cowboys football team is using drones to film practice sessions. This replaces the “old” method of using handheld cameras on the sidelines and end zone.

InterDrone Film Festival Announced

Video captured with a drone is to be judged in six categories: Natural Wonders, Cityscapes and Architecture, Action Sports, Acrobatics/Technical Skill, Storytelling, and Reel. The festival includes a People’s Choice Award in each category plus an overall Best in Show, which carries a Grand Prize of $2,000 or equivalent drone. Winners will be announced at InterDrone, the International Drone Conference and Exposition being held September 9-10-11 at The Rio in Las Vegas.

The show will feature special events (including a keynote with Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and founder of DIY Drones) and networking opportunities as well as industry panels and two technical programs: Drone TechCon for builders, Drone Flyer for drone flyers and buyers, as well as Drone Business for the opportunities the market has to offer.

Video of the Week

The moment territorial goose swipes drone out of air

A goose attacks a drone flying over the Oudorperpolder area in Alkmaar, northern Netherlands. Seeing the drone as an intruder, the goose attacks the machine.

Mentioned

getwell

The special video created for David.

UAV082 Reaction to the FAA’s NPRM for Commercial sUAS

NBC Exclusive Drone Footage Captures Frozen Niagara Falls

Companies, the press, and other interested parties have looked at the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for small UAS, and the response has been positive, but there is work to be done.

For documents related to the sUAS NPRM, visit regulations.gov and search for Docket FAA-2015-0150. At press time, the Recently Published Rulemaking Documents page still shows the NPRM as pending publication in the Federal Register, but a PDF of the NPRM is available.

News

FAA’s liberal proposed rules win allies in drone business

Jon Resnick, Policy and Marketing Representative in Washington for DJI says, “We are very pleased the FAA is taking a reasonable and practical approach to integrating commercial UAS into the National Air Space. We are very encouraged and stand ready to collaborate with the FAA to implement common-sense proposals as quickly as possible.”

Mark Dombroff, from law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge says, “My concern is that there will be people entering the UAS business who are attracted by the potential economics. This really requires aggressive monitoring and enforcement by the FAA to insure that the rules are observed.”

With new rules, the FAA and drone industry make up

“Drone advocates let out a collective sigh of relief as new commercial drone regulations are more industry-friendly than expected.”

Fortune says, the “FAA … is far more in tune with industry needs than many imagined.”

They call it “a promising sign.”

Matthew Bieschke, president of the UAS America Fund says, “I think the FAA has had a tremendously difficult job to do, and I think what they came out with over the weekend was surprising. It was less conservative than a lot of people in the industry thought it would be.”

Lisa Ellman, counsel and co-chair of the UAS Practice Group at the D.C. office of McKenna Long & Aldridge says, “People feared that the new process would look like the Section 333 exemption process up to and including the private pilot’s license requirement … so this is a huge, wonderful thing, this new UAS operator’s certificate. It will be relatively easy to get and will make drones broadly accessible.”

Brendan Schulman, head of the unmanned aircraft systems practice at New York City-based law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, says there are aspects of the Notice that the FAA got wrong: Limitations on academic research, night flying, and the height limitation.

Regarding drone-based delivery, Schulman says in an email to Fortune, “The proposal considers drone delivery to be air carriage subject to heightened regulatory standards outside the UAS proposal. That’s a legal distinction that made sense in the manned aircraft era but I am not sure why they are holding on to it. It strikes me as a real blow to Amazon and other companies that have been working on drone delivery projects.”

Amazon drone plans shot down by authorities

In the proposed regulations, operators of commercial sUAS must fly under “unaided” line of sight and not over people. This makes package delivery impossible. Amazon vice-president of global public policy Paul Misener told CNBC by email, “The FAA needs to begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business, and ultimately our customers. We are committed to realizing our vision for Prime Air and are prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need.”

Small UAV Coalition Applauds the FAA’S Release of the Proposed sUAS Rule as a Good First Step for Industry

In its press release, the Small UAV Coalition says, “We applaud the FAA for creating a flexible framework that appears to be risk-based, as we have advocated, and focused on the technological capabilities of UAVs, rather than simply adapting a set of rules from those currently governing manned aircraft.” And, “In particular, we support the FAA’s proposal not to require an airworthiness certificate for small UAVs, and to eliminate any requirement for a pilot to obtain manned aircraft flying experience or a medical exam.”

But the Coalition does have some issues with the proposal concerning line of sight, testing on private property, night flying, the altitude limit, and first person view.

President Obama Calls for Transparency in UAS Privacy Memo

President Barack Obama released a Presidential Memorandum to the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies: Promoting Economic Competitiveness While Safeguarding Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Video of the Week

NBC Exclusive Drone Footage Captures Frozen Niagara Falls

Capturing the beauty of the frozen falls.

UAV074 Did you get a Drone for Christmas?

Know Before You Fly

No sUAS NPRM, “Know Before You Fly” safety campaign, it may be OK to say “drone” now, UAS America Fund proposes rules, drone privacy legislation, ICAO looks at integrating RPAS into the air space, an embarrassing UAS test center first flight, and the MQ-8C Fire Scout takes flight.

News

No Firm Date For UAV Rules As FAA, Industry Launch Safety Campaign

At 2014 year-end, we don’t have an sUAS NPRM from the FAA, but we do have many new quadcopter owners after the holiday gift-giving season.

The Know Before You Fly education campaign was founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

Booming Holiday Drone Sales Creates Unknown Safety Risk

Darrell Slaughter, Director of Business Development at the Phoenix, Arizona based Unmanned Vehicle University says “The drone industry cannot afford any mishaps at any time, especially at this stage in the industry’s life cycle. People must realize that many of the UAVs being given as gifts this year are not toys.  Many are capable of causing serious injury and damage to property. People will get hurt if these potentially dangerous devices are operated in an unsafe manner.”

Drone Defender Drops D-word Denial

Back in the day, you could get chastised for describing a UAV as a “drone.” But the press and the public have co-opted the term, and it may be time to embrace the “D-word.”

Industry Proposes A ‘Micro Drone’ Rule As Regulatory Deadline Looms

UAS America Fund proposal The UAS America Fund has filed a petition with the FAA proposing regulations for very small UAS for non-recreational purposes. This incremental regulatory approach is based on a risk analysis of FAA data, and addresses aircraft under 3 pounds and flown under 400 feet at least 5 miles from an airport.

The graphic from the UAS America Fund shows different regulatory and certification requirements for different categories of UAS missions.

West Virginia Senator proposes UAS Privacy Act

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV from West Virginia has proposed a law that would require the Federal Trade Commission to set up privacy websites for all commercial UAV operators where privacy policies are posted, including:

  • Information about the circumstances under which the UAS would be operated
  • The specific purposes for the images
  • Data and other identifying information that would be collected
  • Measures to be taken to anonymize and aggregate the information
  • Contact information

Private companies would be prohibited from conducting surveillance on individuals without their explicit prior consent.

ICAO Conducts UAS Fact-Finding Mission

At the invitation of the FAA, representatives from ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) visited the U.S. on a fact-finding mission. They wanted to look at how the U.S. is integrating manned aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). ICAO has a technical body called the RPAS Panel made up of almost 100 international state and industry experts.

1st Nevada drone crashes seconds into FAA test flight

The hand-launched “Magpie” was to be the first UAV officially flown from the Nevada test site, and the press were there to capture the event. The Governor even made a speech. The moment came, Magpie was tossed into the air, and then immediately fell to the ground. The problem was attributed to an electrical controller issue.

U.S. Navy helicopter drone’s first flight

The U.S. Navy successfully flew the MQ-8C Fire Scout system for the first time off the USS Jason Dunham. This was from a moving ship at sea.

Video of the Week

Team BlackSheep XMas Special

Published on Dec 23, 2012, this video was taken by Team Black Sheep from a flight near Paris while attending LeWeb 2012. Is this a safe flight?

Mentioned

Surge in drones as Christmas gifts will show need for greater regulation: peak body

 

UAV062 UAVs for Agriculture

Nixie wearable droneAgriculture wants UAVs, the White House seeks drone data transparency, a wearable quadcopter, UAVs fight poachers, and Facebook plans to offer Internet access via drone.

News

FAA’s Sluggish UAV Ruling Slows Ag Research, Group Suggests

Commercial farmers everywhere are eager to apply new technology to their operations. That includes using unmanned aircraft for things like crop and livestock surveys, monitoring irrigation needs, and pest control.

Farmers in Louisiana as well as representatives from Louisiana State University’s AgCenter have formed a 17-member study group headed by a state Senator. They want to make recommendations to the FAA before it issues UAS regulations.

White House plans to require federal agencies to provide details about drones

The Obama Administration is circulating a draft Executive Order that if signed would make government use of drones more transparent.

The Order would apply to federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the Justice Department, NASA, the Interior Department, and the Commerce Department.

It would require that they provide information about the size of their fleet, how it is used, and what is done with the data collected.

Meet The Finalists Of Intel’s Make It Wearable Challenge

One of the ten finalists in the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge is “Nixie,” a wristband camera that unfolds into a remote-controlled quadcopter.

The idea is that on command, Nixie unfolds, flies up, turns around, takes a picture of you, and returns so you can catch it.

How the Shadowview Foundation uses aerial surveillance to stop poaching

With the help of the Shadowview Foundation, drones are being used to fight illegal poaching in Africa and Asia. Shadowview provides UAS for environmental, conservation, and humanitarian relief operations.

Others are active in this area. The World Wildlife Fund received a $5 million grant for its work in with drones specially designed by drone-maker Falcon UAV.

Facebook Wi-Fi Drone the Size of 747 Could Fly in 2015

Facebook plans to offer WiFi service to the two thirds of the world without Internet access via large, solar powered drones.

Fans are using drones to spy on the ‘Star Wars: episode VII’ set

Former RAF airbase, now public park Greenham Common is located about 50 miles west of London. It’s also the site where scenes for the next Star Wars movie are being filmed.

Someone identified only as “3dlp” flew a drone over the site and posted video on YouTube showing a Millennium Falcon under construction and two X-wing starfighters.

New Jersey Man Accused Of Shooting Down Neighbor’s Remote Control Drone

A man was using a drone to take pictures of a friends house under construction. A neighbor didn’t take kindly to that and took out the drone with a shotgun. He was arrested by police and charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief.

Drone used in Hannah Graham search; cops check for cold case ties

An Aeryon SkyRanger is being used in the search for missing University of Virginia student. The FAA approved the use of the drone, a first in Virginia according to authorities.

John Coggin, chief engineer of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, said the drone will be used to take a closer look at objects of interest in areas too difficult to reach by other means.

Video of the Week

“Beautiful Scotland,” A Drone’s-Eye View of the Scenic Beauty of Scotland

Edinburgh-based filmmaker John Duncan used a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter fitted with a GoPro 3+ camera FPV to shoot stunning aerial footage of Scotland for this his short film.

UAV056 When is an Aircraft not an Aircraft?

19XRW-Hoverwing

The FAA definition of an aircraft, drones and agriculture, UAV privacy issues, FAA solicits a UAS Center of Excellence, Amazon Prime Air, X-47B milestone, drone legislation, and a successful UAV company despite regulatory uncertainty.

News

FAA Thinks Two Pound Drones Aircraft. But 1100 Pound, Manned and Flying Craft?  Unsure.

The FAA’s June interpretive rule treats model airplanes as aircraft. But what about other devices that fly – like the Flying Hovercraft that Hammacher Schlemmer sells for $190,000? Are those aircraft too?

With integrated wings and a 130-hp gasoline engine driving a 60″ wood/carbon composite thrust propeller, this hovercraft manufactured by Universal Hovercraft as the 19XRW-Hoverwing, can fly up to 70 mph over obstacles up to 20 feet high.

When asked about the status of wing in ground effect machines, the FAA replied that they haven’t made any determination because they have not received any applications for certification.

Commercial drone dealers take farming to new heights

Tellus Agronomics AgriEye drone

Tellus Agronomics AgriEye drone

The University of Maryland Extension and Wye Research Center understands that technology plays key role in the future of precision agriculture. So they brought together local farmers, agricultural educators, and representatives from farming technology tool companies. Perhaps not surprisingly, UAVs were a prominent part of the event.

Virginia-based consulting company Tellus Agronomics demonstrated their AgriEye Drone, a quadcopter for agronomists that features autonomous flight, live video feed, aerial mapping simulator, and RC simulator pre-flight training.

Helicopter Ag Pilot Harassed by UAV in Illinois

The National Agricultural Aviation Association reports that an ag helicopter was buzzed by a fixed wing “UAV” that caused the pilot some distress. The pilot notified the FAA FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) who called local police, and they are seeking to prosecute the owner of the “UAV.” Only it was not a UAV, it was an Extra 300 aerobatic R/C plane.

President Barack Obama to issue executive order on drone privacy

Last month, President Barack Obama announced that he would be signing an executive order placing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in charge of developing voluntary privacy best practices for unmanned aerial vehicles. We haven’t seen an executive order on this yet.

FAA Solicits Center of Excellence for UAS Applicants

The Federal Aviation Administration released a solicitation for a new FAA Center of Excellence (COE) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. This COE was mandated by Congress under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. This “COE will be tasked with identifying current and future issues critical to safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace.”

The COE will study: detect-and-avoid technology, control and communications, low-altitude operations safety, compatibility with air traffic control operations, and training and certification of UAS pilots and other crew members. The deadline for submission of proposals is September 15th.

Amazon Will Test Drone Delivery System in India

Amazon is reported to begin testing of Amazon Prime Air in Mumbai and Bangalore, India, possibly as soon as late this year. Why India? Because commercial drone use in India does not need a permit from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Video: The Navy’s X-47B drone reaches a new milestone

Testing of the U.S. Navy X-47B continues, and recently it was launched from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, as was an F/A-18E Super Hornet. Carrier-based unmanned and manned aircraft had not previously flown together. The end game for the Navy is the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike aircraft (UCLASS).

Drone manufacturer grows amid uncertain market

DSLRPros in Oakland Park, California manufactures and sells drones and equipment for professional unmanned aerial filmmaking. The company started in 2012, and annual revenue is now $10 million, mostly from fire departments and farmers.

YouTube video shows drone buzzing Vancouver apartment

An apartment building resident observed some kind of drone flying outside the building for an estimated 30 minutes moving from apartment to apartment. It then hovered just feet from his window. The Vancouver Police Department says they received 10 complaints about drones since May. So far, nobody has been charged.

Legislature mulls curbs on use of aerial drones by paparazzi

Paparazzi routinely harass celebrities and invade their privacy. Camera-equipped drones are the perfect high-tech tool for extending the reach of the paparazzi. The Paparazzi Reform Initiative is trying to do something about this situation and there is a proposal pending in the California Legislature that “would prohibit the use of aerial drones to collect video, photos and audio from celebrities and others in a way that violates their privacy rights.”

Video of the Week

Satsop Nuclear Reactor

Braden Roseborough captured stunning video of this never finished, abandoned nuclear reactor. It got a small feature on mashable.com: A Haunting Drone’s Eye View of an Abandoned Nuclear Plant

Mentioned

ADS-B/In for UAV Pilots for $3? Low Power Low Altitude ADS-B/Out?

Tim Trott explains what we need to do to bring ADS-B to sUAS.

Dr. Missy Cummings on Tech and Privacy

Mark sent in this C-Span video with some of Dr. Cummings testimony before the U.S. Congress from January 2014. She weighs in on technological illiteracy in the US, particularly in the government, and how it will be very important for our future to confront this issue.

 

UAV049 UAV Privacy, Subpoenas, and Regulations

SectionalUAVs taking off in China, aerial video and privacy, a map showing UAS regs by State, FAA subpoenas realtors, FAA might not make their 2015 deadline, and drone poetry.

The News

Drone Hobbyists Taking off in China

Twenty-three-year old Jin Xing is representative of the enthusiasm for UAVs that is growing in China.  He’s created the Butterfly Aerial Photography Workshop, a business he operates from his home. Jin and his partner take aerial photographs for client companies using six helicopters.

Aerial Photo Company Gets Cops Called on Them After Drone Startles Naked Woman

Portland, Oregon firm Skyris Imaging was out taking panoramic video for a developer. But when the resident of a 26th floor apartment looked out the window and saw a hovering drone, she assumes she was the victim of a peeping tom. So she called the police. As you would expect, the media went crazy with the story.

Are drones illegal in your state? This map can tell you

This map of the U.S. lets you click on a State and see legislation, proposed legislation, a description of the legislation, and associated websites.

Drone rangers slap Realtors with subpoenas

Real estate is one of the industries that offers an immediate business use for UAVs. But the FAA is watching UAV users that it suspects are operating commercial operations. Now they’re issuing subpoenas to real estate brokerages that use UAVs to take photos of properties.

Clever copters can learn as they fly

University of Sheffield’s Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (ACSE), is researching quadcopters that learn from their environment. These “flying robots” use camera images to build up a 3D map of the environment. Other sensors detect barometric and ultrasonic information. All this is fed to the autopilot software for navigation within the environment.

The use case is for aerial robots that can enter an environment, learn to identify objects and other features of the environment, and make decisions. The research quadcopters can also detect and interact with each other.

FAA will not meet deadline for unmanned aircraft

According to a report from the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, FAA will not meet the Congressionally mandated September 2015 deadline to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.

The report identifies four areas of concern and makes eleven recommendations.  These recommendations include the need for reports, milestones, timelines, clarification of responsibilities, process standards, more ATC study, definition of the data required from the six test sites, and metrics to measure performance to plan.

Video of the Week

Drone Captures Massive Yacht Fire As $24 Million Boat Is Engulfed In Flames 

Submitted by Paul Siebert: San Diego boat captain Kurt Roll was using a remote-controlled quadcopter drone to shoot aerial footage at a shipyard in Chula Vista, California on Thursday when he spotted a plume of smoke rising in the distance. Roll decided to use his device to get closer to what appeared to be a massive boat fire, and managed to capture some incredible, close-up footage of a yacht going up in flames.

Feedback

From Ben, a Laugh of the Week: “Stop saying ‘uh-oh’ while you’re flying”: Drone crash pilot quotes unveiled. Real recorded quotes from military drone pilots just before they crash.

Christian from Germany sent us two interesting links: SailDrone, for ocean science applications, and the Aerovel Flexrotor, a fixed-wing VTOL tail-sitter that is designed for autonomous operation in sites with restricted access.

DRONE: poems with found sound and video from Harry Giles, a poet and a performer who produces poetry through the eyes of a UAV!

New Sectionals that show UAV’s. This came from Tim Trott’s Southern Helicam website. (See image above.)

Airbus Wants To Take The Cockpit Out Of The Cockpit Of The Future. This Airbus patent applications describes airline pilots who are moved out of the front into an interior area of the airplane. They fly using first person view.

Airbus Cockpit Patent Application

 

UAV029 Delivering the Internet via UAV

Titan Aerospace

Facebook buys a drone company, having enough communications and data bandwidth, an international UAV test consortium announced, UAV training at Roswell, busting FAA myths about UAVs, FAA authority to regulate UAS questioned, privacy questions flare down under, and Russia building Israeli UAVs.

Breaking news: Commercial Drones Are Completely Legal, a Federal Judge Ruled

The News:

Facebook Follows Amazon, Google Into Drones With $60 Million Purchase

Facebook is reportedly purchasing Titan Aerospace for $60 Million. Titan Aerospace makes high altitude solar-powered UAV’s that they refer to as persistent solar atmospheric satellites.™

Facebook is a partner in Internet.org, along with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera and Qualcomm. Their objective is to bring everyone in the world with a smartphone into the “knowledge economy” by making Internet services 100 times more affordable.

Accomplishing that means reducing the volume of data served by ten times, and reducing the cost to serve that data by ten times. That’s where Titan comes in.

Drones seen driving spectrum sharing technologies

We talk a lot about the UAS regulations the FAA needs to establish, but there is something else that has to be figured out. All those military and commercial UAVs slated to cloud our skies need com links, and that means enough spectrum has to be available.

International Consortium of Aeronautical Test Sites For UAVs Announced In Quebec

An International Consortium of Aeronautical Test Sites has been created to share information on operational safety, flight regulations, and operational experiences.

This is intended to enable development, testing, and certification of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). The Consortium also looks to support creation of international standards for UAS/RPAS construction. Other centers are expected to join the Consortium.

The Consortium was announced by the UAV test and service centre (CESA) in France, the Oklahoma State University – University Multispectral Laboratories, the National Aeronautical Centre in Wales, and the Unmanned Aerial System Centre of Excellence in Quebec, Canada.

Roswell selected as drone plane training center

Strategic Aerospace International is setting up a drone pilot training center in Roswell, New Mexico, starting with 30 Air Force academy graduates in a three month program. SAI has the curriculum at 48 colleges and universities, but needs the airspace to fly the UAVs. They’ll use the Northrop Grumman SandShark UAS.

Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

The FAA wants to dispel some of what they consider to be “misconceptions and misinformation” about UAS regulations. Things like control of airspace, what commercial flights are allowable, and can the FAA police all this? So they’ve published a list of seven myths and the “real” facts.

Myth #1: The FAA doesn’t control airspace below 400 feet
Fact: They do.

Myth #2: Commercial UAS flights are OK if I’m over private property and stay below 400’.
Fact: A 2007 Federal Register notice says no.

Myth #3: Commercial UAS operations are a “gray area” in FAA regulations.
Fact: There is no gray.

Myth #4: There are too many commercial UAS operations for the FAA to stop.
Fact: The FAA is watching and has appropriate enforcement tools

Myth #5: Commercial UAS operations will be OK after September 30, 2015.
Fact: Congress mandated that the FAA come up with a safe integration plan by that date. Regulations, policies, and standards will come incrementally.

Myth #6: The FAA is lagging behind other countries in approving commercial drones.
Fact: The U.S. is not like the rest of the world. We have a very busy airspace and we need to get this right.

Myth #7: The FAA predicts as many as 30,000 drones by 2030.
Fact: That’s an old outdated number. Now the FAA estimates 7,500 sUAS by 2018

Free the Beer Drones: Maybe the FAA doesn’t have the authority to regulate unmanned aerial vehicles.

The author believes the U.S. Code and regulations that give the FAA authority, do not define UAVs, so they have no authority. And even if the FAA does have authority, it has not published the documents required to regulate UAVs. Regulatory and statutory law requires public scrutiny and input, and the FAA hasn’t done that.

AFP using drones to investigate major crime as questions raised over privacy

A parliamentary inquiry is looking at drones and their use by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The AFP maintains use has been limited, like at crime scenes, and admits that covert surveillance would require a warrant. But the Office of the Privacy Commissioner says it has been getting inquiries from the public about the use of drones.

Warplanes: Russia Builds Israeli UAV

After seven years of negotiations and trials, Russia has begun production under license of the Israeli Searcher 2 UAV.

Video of the Week:

Autonomous drones flock like birds

Mentioned:

Williams Foundation calls for fast-tracked UAVs

 

UAV028 The Size of the UAV Market

ARES

The size of the global UAV market, more on the FAA losing the drone war, a device that tries to warn you about drones overhead, ignorant politicians passing drone laws, a military UAV providing cargo lift, police use a quadcopter in a murder investigation, and other police shut down a journalist.

The News:

Small UAV Market Worth $582.2 Million by 2019

MarketsandMarkets published Small UAV Market Global Forecast, 2014 – 2019 that projects the small UAV market will grow to $582.2 million over a six year time period. This represents a global compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.7 percent.

FAA risks losing drone war

sUAS usage is growing in the face of relatively low multi-copter prices, growing awareness of drones, and more and more creative uses. While the FAA tries to control the situation, some people in the U.S. liken this to the Wild West. The FAA wants to get this emerging technology right and keep the aviation system safe. “We expect to publish the small UAS proposed rule for public comment later this year.”

DroneShield warns of low-flying UAVs with 18 nations demanding the device

The crowd-funded DroneShield is a device that let’s you know when a drone is nearby. Intended to be a privacy protection device, DroneShield uses a sensitive microphone and an inexpensive Raspberry Pi computer to listen for the audio signature of a drone.

My view: The hysteria over the domestic use of drones

Legislating technology can be a bit dicey. Often the legislators have a poor grasp of the technology. That’s not stopping States in the U.S. from introducing bills aiming to regulate UAVs.

ARES Aims to Provide More Front-line Units with Mission-tailored VTOL Capabilities

Ground-based transportation can be difficult for the military in many situations. The Transformer program from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) proposed a UAV as a solution. The Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) would use an unmanned VTOL aircraft to move supplies.

In a first, Tamil Nadu police use UAV in murder probe

In what is thought to be the first such use of a UAV in India, police used a quadcopter in a murder investigation. They flew it over a brush-covered crime scene that was otherwise inaccessible. Besides searching for evidence, they intended to create a 3D image of the crime scene.

Lawsuit Filed In Connecticut By Journalist Over UAV Use

A journalist claims the Hartford Connecticut police prevented him from using his UAV to take pictures of an automobile crash scene. The police say he was interfering with their investigation. He says the police violated his First Amendment right to free expression, and his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizures. A suit has been filed in U.S. District Court.

Videos of the Week:

DJI Phantom Chasing Florida Powerboats Club
and
Netflix Drone to Home