Tag Archives: privacy

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


Williams Foundation calls for fast-tracked UAVs


UAV028 The Size of the UAV Market


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
Netflix Drone to Home


UAV026 FAA Falls Behind UAS Mandate Schedule


FAA progress in meeting the UAS mandate, an update on plans at the Griffiss International Airport UAS test site, a former United States governor is hiding from the drones, a system to monitor river environments, maintaining UAS control in the airspace with satellites, and drones at the Olympics.

The News:

FAA reports on drones and NextGen

Hearing reveals FAA behind on NextGen, UAS, consolidation

A Congressional hearing was held to check on the progress made by the FAA in meeting the roughly 200 mandates of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The FAA is behind schedule on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and integration of UAS into the national airspace system.

Experts explain drone plans at Griffiss

A panel has described the activities expected at the UAS test site at Griffiss International Airport in upstate New York. This site is a partnership between Griffiss and the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR) based in Syracuse.

Testing at Griffiss will begin around April 1, with a focus on agricultural, not military applications. Flyterra (@Flyterra on Twitter) will be the first commercial flyer of drones at the base, and they expect to test for about eight months.

Jesse Ventura Freaks Out CNBC: I’m ‘Off the Grid’ So ‘Drones Can’t Find Me’

Jesse Ventura is a former professional wrestler, Minnesota Mayor and Governor, actor, and current host of the Conspiracy Theory television series. He says he’s “gone off the grid” down in Mexico. Why? So the drones can’t find him.

Marsupial robotic system enables environmental monitoring of rivers

A system that combines a multi-rotor UAV with an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) has been developed for environmental monitoring of rivers. The “Riverwatch” system automatically measures conditions above the water, below the water, and on the surface.

The six-rotor UAV is based on the VBrain from the Italian company Virtualrobotix. It uses open-source control software and hardware, and has a FLIR Quark 336 thermal imaging camera equipped with a GoPro Hero 3 WiFi camera, and a webcam.

Europe To Demonstrate Space-Based UAS Airspace Integration

The DeSIRE project (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems in Europe) looks to test UAS control via satellite communications. The European Defense Agency (EDA) and European Space Agency (ESA) will cooperate to demonstrate that UAS can operate commercial and government missions beyond radio line-of-sight using satellite-based command-and-control data links.

Drones Buzz Sochi

UAVs are providing HD video of Olympic events for television broadcast.

Video of the Week: DJI Phantom – Niagara Falls

From the Listener Mail:

Andreas Raptopoulos: No roads? There’s a drone for that

Renault unveils mini-SUV equipped with a QUADCOPTER DRONE

Security camera captures National Corvette Museum sinkhole as it forms


UAV017 UAS for Good, Bad, and the Improbable

RP Flight Systems Spectra

This Episode:

Using a drone to smuggle contraband into a prison, learn to fly unmanned vehicles at a University, UAV privacy laws carve out drones as a special case, drones are blocked even for humanitarian purposes, the Amazon.com vision for UAS, and how to hack a drone.

The News:

Drones used to try to smuggle contraband into jail

Prison guards, probably among the most perceptive people, noticed a hexacopter over Calhoun State Prison in Georgia. Four people were arrested after the drone was found in a car with some tobacco and mobile phones – desirable items for the incarcerated.

So you want to FLY Drones

After becoming interested in this field, the author joined a Drone Pilot Training Certificate program at the Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU), which was founded in 2012. The three-phase Certificate has students complete an online “ground school” from home, then computer flight training simulation, and finally actual flight school.

Flightless Drones

We think about privacy concerns associated with Unmanned Aerial Systems, but what makes drones so different? Shouldn’t we be looking at privacy from a general surveillance perspective, regardless of the technology? What about other robotic or autonomous devices that can snoop on you?

Civilian Drones Movie

This documentary presents compelling examples of actual search and rescue operations (SAR) where drones played a critical role. These are real people with lost loved ones. The non-profit search team of volunteers has been declared by the FAA to be in an official capacity, not essential, and therefore forbidden.

The Texas Equusearch SAR team featured in the documentary uses a variety of resources (divers, searchers on horseback, etc.) and has conducted 1300 searches across the U.S. They found the RP Flight Systems Spectra to be invaluable in locating missing persons.

Two producers of the documentary were interviewed on Episode 280 of the All Things That Fly podcast, about 14 minutes in. Their mission is “Spreading the word about the humanitarian use of civilian drones” and you can find them on Twitter as @CivilianDrones.

Amazon’s Hopes For Drone Deliveries

Amazon Spoof

Amazon Spoof

Amazon.com has produced a concept video showing an octocopter load a package and deliver it to the front walk of the purchasing family’s home. While limited to 5-pound packages, Amazon says that covers 86% of the packages shipped. They say such a service could be deployed within five years.



Flying hacker contraption hunts other drones, turns them into zombies

Well known hacker Samy Kamkar has released the specifications needed to turn a Parrot AR Drone into “SkyJack,” which can hijack nearby Parrot drones.

Max’s Quadcopter:

Max now has a Blade Nano QX quad-copter that he’s learning to fly, although not very successfully so far. The “buy small and don’t spend a lot of money” strategy for the first multi-copter is proving to be a good one since Max crashes the thing a lot.


UAV007 Drone UAV Drone

DARPA HydraThis Episode:

A visual drone census map, who should develop privacy laws that govern drones, the Hydra proposal for drones at sea, surveying Australia with sUAS, and unmanned F-16 target drones.

The News:

Drone U. Releases US Drone Census

Drone University, an online educational platform, has created a U.S. Drone Census map showing the “complex ecosystem of users, industry, legislation, and research.” You filter the points on the map by selecting categories from a dropdown, like DIY Drone Groups, Academic Programs, and FAA test Site Applicants.

Should states determine if drones can record your conversations?

U.S. courts have held that the First Amendment protects the “right to record,” but this is not firmly established.The scope of the “right to record” is very much open. Recordings by drones adds a new twist to the debate, but we should not rush to legislation.

DARPA’s Plan to Flood the Sea With Drones, Carrying More Drones

The DARPA idea is to develop an undersea network of sites (called Hydra) from which drones can be quickly launched in response to world events that need immediate attention, like natural disasters and piracy.

UAV: fixed wing or rotary?

UAV applications for the survey, mining, agriculture, and civil construction industries can be accomplished with fixed wing or rotary aerial vehicles. Fixed wing is good for aerial mapping, rotary for inspections or difficult to access locations.

Boeing, USAF Complete First Unmanned QF-16 Flight

Boeing QF-16

Boeing QF-16

The first flight of a remotely piloted Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jet was successful. Two Air Force ground pilots launched the QF-16, took it to 40,000 feet, and performed some aerial maneuvers, including a 7G barrel roll.  In USAF parlance, this is not a Drone it is a FSAT or Full Scale Aerial Target. Video: On Target: F-16 flies with an empty cockpit.


UAV006 Spy on the Chicken

PUMA AE beach launch

PUMA AE beach launch. Courtesy AeroVironment, Inc.

This Episode:

The Reaper is turned into a Jammer, drones are spying on chickens in Australia, FAA rules for small UAS’s delayed again, UAV privacy questions remain, a new UAS Test Center in the UK, monitoring wildlife with a PUMA and the weather with a Global Hawk, FEMA shuts down Colorado UAV flights, and more multi-rotor’s come down in crowds.

The News:

Jamming Pod Demonstrated on MQ-9 Reaper UAV

General Atomics has fitted a Northrop Grumman jamming pod to an MQ-9 Reaper. The test flight occurred back in April during a U.S. Marine Corps weapons and tactics instructor (WTI) course, but has only recently been made public. Planned for the October WTI course is a demonstration with EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare (EW) jets and smaller unmanned aircraft.

Animal Liberation activists launch spy drone to test free-range claims

Australian activists are concerned that some large free-range chicken farms are not in fact free-range. So for $17,000 they purchased a hexacopter, fitted it with an HD video camera, and flew it over the farms to document their claims. The group says this does not violate trespass laws.

First Commercial UAS Flight Due; Small UAS Rule Delayed

An Insitu ScanEagle was expected to make the first commercial flight of an unmanned aircraft on September 11, under a restricted category type certification the FAA awarded in July. ConocoPhillips was to launch the ScanEagle from a research vessel in the Arctic Ocean west of Alaska to monitor whale migrations and ice flows.

The FAA’s release of a Notice of Proposed RuleMaking (NPRM) which would govern the operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) weighing up to 55 pounds has been delayed until early in 2014.

UAV Operations in National Air Space Advance as Privacy Fight Heats Up

The standards being developed for sUAS over: UAV design, including command and control systems, batteries, production, quality assurance, maintenance, and continued airworthiness, the aircraft flight manual, and operations over populated areas.

ASTM International developed the initial standards for the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee that was chartered in 2008. That feeds the NPRM process which includes a mechanism for public comment.

The ASTM standards committee for large UAS was unable to make enough progress, so it’s mission was changed to minimum operational performance standards (or MOPS) for detect-and-avoid equipment.

Unlike the slow rule-making progress for commercial UAS, Government agencies (like law enforcement and public safety) can move quickly as a result of the March MOU between the FAA and the Department of Justice.

UK Inaugurates National UAS Test Center

Two UK airports (West Wales Airport and Newquay Cornwall Airport) have launched a “National Aeronautical Center” (NAC) to develop, test and demonstrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), both commercial and military.

More drones coming Saturday in NOAA tests

NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations is testing the PUMA UAS in the Florida Keys to monitor wildlife without disturbing them.


NASA Global Hawk

A NASA Global Hawk undergoes systems testing while parked on the ramp at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center on the edge of Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in preparation for participation in NASA’s Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes, or GRIP, hurricane mission.

Spy Drones Turning Up New Data About Hurricanes And Weather and NASA to Investigate Tropical Storm Humberto: Atlantic’s Second “Zombie Tropical Storm”

NASA is flying two Global Hawks from Wallops Island over Hurricanes under the five-year HS3 (Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel) Mission.

Falcon UAV Supports Colorado Flooding Until Grounded by FEMA

The Falcon UAV was providing valuable aerial imagery of the recent tragic Colorado floods. However, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has arrived with conventional manned aircraft and the Falcon was ordered to stand down.

Multirotor Crashes into Crowd in Spain and Pirate Party Crashes Spy Drone in Front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel

A hexacopter comes down into a packed crowd in Spain, allegedly injuring several people. Meanwhile, in Dresden, Germany at a political party campaign rally, another copter came down in front of the podium.