Tag Archives: safety

UAV168 Unmanned Aircraft Safety with Dr. Todd Curtis

Aviation safety analyst Dr. Todd Curtis discusses unmanned aircraft safety.

Guest

Dr. Todd Curtis

Dr. Todd Curtis

Dr. Todd Curtis is an aviation safety analyst, author, and publisher. He founded AirSafe.com in 1996 to provide the public with useful information about airline safety, fear of flying, plane crashes, TSA security, and other issues of concern to the traveling public.

Todd was an airline safety engineer at Boeing, and he’s a frequent on-air aviation expert on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, CBC, BBC, Discovery Channel, NPR, and many other major news media outlets around the world. Follow him on Twitter at @airsafe.

Unmanned Aircraft Safety

We talk with Todd about the safety parallels between manned aviation and unmanned aviation, what unmanned can learn from manned, and how unmanned aviation impacts safety for manned aviation. Also, Todd tells us about the new safety challenges that unmanned aviation creates.

News

Drone startup funding crashes

Funding for drone companies in the third quarter of 2016 was 48% below the second quarter, and down 59% from the third quarter of 2015. Granted, startup funding, in general, is down 39% over the 2015 quarter 3 level, but funding is down even more.

Self-driving truck makes first shipment: 50,000 cans of beer

The first commercial shipment by self-driving vehicle took place on October 20 when Budweiser teamed up with autonomous vehicle company Ottomotors for a 120-mile tractor-trailer trip along a Colorado highway.

Amazon Looks to add Alexa Intelligence Technology to UAS

Amazon sees a future where its patented Alexa intelligence is added to very small drones, for missions like finding lost children, locating your car in a parking lot, and acting as a personal security guard.

Sweden bans cameras on drones

The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden ruled that cameras mounted to drones are “surveillance cameras,” and thus require an expensive and difficult to obtain permit.

Israel Refuses To Sign US Regulation Of Drone Exports Document

Israel says it will not sign the US document on the regulation of drone exports. They say it could damage Israeli exports.

Hero Uncle Terrorizes Public With Drone-Mounted Angel of Death

With Halloween upon us in the U.S., it’s time again for spooky costumes, and that includes scary flying drones.

The Baywatch Inspired Drone

The Amphibious Joint Lifeguard UAV is a surveillance drone concept that is also a floatation device. First, the drone flies to the victim, then drops onto the water. The victim grabs the drone, which then powers the victim to shore.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

UAV105 Guns on Drones

Weaponized quadcopterA weaponized quadcopter, shooting down drones, legislation that would permit disabling drones, and nine ways to not be an idiot.

Guest

Max Trescott joins the conversation. Max is a GA pilot, a certified flight instructor, aviation author, a glass cockpit expert, and a budding drone pilot.

News

Handgun-firing drone appears legal in video, but FAA, police probe further

Father Says ‘Flying Gun’ Drone Video Broke No Laws

About that handgun-firing drone

Viral Video Of Gun-Firing Drone Renews Interest In Legal Restrictions

An 18-year old Connecticut student mounted a handgun on a drone and made a video of the gun firing. Law enforcement isn’t yet sure how to treat the incident, which apparently took place on family property, saying that no Connecticut state laws were violated.

The FAA may not have any regulations that prohibit conducting this activity on private property away from others. It may come down to state law governing the handling and discharge of firearms.

The Connecticut state Senate recently passed a bill banning weaponized drones, but the legislative session ended without action by the House of Representatives. The bill may now get priority when the next legislative session starts in February.

Shooting Down Drone Costs California Man $850 Penalty, One Angry Neighbor

A man visiting his parents in California was flying his hexacopter when a neighbor’s son shot the UAV out of the sky. According to Ars Technica, he thought it was a CIA surveillance vehicle. The owner of the UAV wanted compensation for the damage, and a small claims court judge ruled in the owner’s favor. But the operator has now produced a record of the UAV’s flight pattern. The drone didn’t cross the property line and wasn’t hovering as claimed.

Hold fire! Shooting your neighbor’s drone could be a felony

The FAA considers drones to be aircraft, and shooting down an aircraft has stiff penalties.

Hillview man arrested for shooting down drone; cites right to privacy

UPDATE: Drone owner disputes shooter’s story; produces video he claims shows flight path

Police in Kentucky responded to a report of a firearm discharge, and to find a man who shot down a neighbor’s drone which he says was hovering over his property and invading his privacy. The man was jailed and charged with wanton endangerment and criminal mischief for shooting down the drone. Both parties are considering legal action against the other. The shooter faces a September court hearing for the criminal charges brought against him.

California Lawmakers Want to Let Emergency Responders Disable Drones

In response to recent incidents where small drones hampered firefighting efforts, state  lawmakers introduced a bill in the California Senate that would give emergency workers the ability to disable drones without fear of charges.

UAV Pilots: Rule #1 — Don’t be an Idiot.

The author presents nine guidelines for safe UAV operation explained in simple terms that explain the logic behind each:

  1. Do not fly anywhere around fires or closed airspaces
  2. Do not fly near the President or his house
  3. Do not fly past where you cannot see your UAV
  4. Do not fly over 400 feet
  5. Do not fly near an airport
  6. Do not fly near nuclear facilities, power stations & other important places
  7. Do not fly over people or their property without their permission
  8. Do not fly if you are drunk or high
  9. Do not fly in bad weather

Videos of the Week

Drones at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

A tour of the many drone activities at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015. The new Aviation Gateway Park featured an 80-by-80-by-30-foot drone cage for all attendees to experience flying a drone or take part in an obstacle course.

Aerial Ireland: Fastnet Rock

Fastnet Rock is a small islet in the Atlantic Ocean and the most southerly point of Ireland. It lies 13 kilometres from the Irish mainland. Due to its location, Fastnet was known as “Ireland’s Teardrop,” because it was the last part of Ireland that 19th century Irish emigrants saw as they sailed to North America. Via listener Tom.

Mentioned

Aviation Careers Podcast Episode 87, Drones and Your Aviation Career

Google, NASA work together to design drone air-traffic-control system

Local police first in Pa. licensed to deploy drone

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

 

UAV012 We Want Drone Safety Rules

Piaggio

 

This Episode:

Drone safety rules, an affordable Piaggio MALE UAV, a drone incursion that turns out to be birds, the Taranis UAS makes it’s first flight, VTOL UAVs, the Aussie CASA threatens fines, the impact of UAVs on the NextGen ATC system, and looking at drones to deliver cargo in Africa.

The News:

No Seat Belts Required: Drone Hobbyists Talk Safety

Hobbies grow up and then the hard questions come up. Like when do you start to make rules? The FAA is working on regulations but at the local levels, authorities don’t know what to do.

Piaggio touts Avanti-based UAV as European MALE solution

Italian airframer Piaggio believes there is a market for an affordable medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned air vehicle. They have displayed a mock-up of their Hammerhead intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft based on the Piaggio P180 Avanti II twin-pusher business aircraft.

What IAF thought were Pakistani drones turned out to be migratory birds

India and Pakistan do not enjoy the best relationship, and airspace incursions are treated seriously. So when India detected the approach of unmanned aircraft, they scrambled the Air Force, which found nothing. A mystery. It turns out that with a strong tailwind, migratory birds can fly at high speeds.

BAE Taranis Makes First Test Flight in Australia

BAE Systems had a successful maiden flight of their stealthy Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator.

Hybrid VTOL UAVs – Back to the Future

The Aerovel Flexrotor is the first autonomous launch and recovery of an unmanned aircraft from an unmanned boat. The Flexrotor takes off vertically, then transitions from rotor-borne to wing-borne flight.

The Aerie design harkens back to the 1944 Focke-Wulf Triebflügel (thrust-wing) where the wings spun like a rotor for vertical flight then transitioned to a propellor for horizontal flight.

CASA warns bushfire drone operators of potential fines

The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority says two remotely piloted drone flights over wildfires in Lithgow and the Blue Mountains put firefighters at risk, and looks to have breached the Civic Aviation Safety Regulations, which state that remotely piloted aircraft must be kept 30 metres from people unless otherwise approved.

UAS Tidal Wave to Hit Future ATC Systems

At the Aviation Week NextGen conference, one panel looked at Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in light of the DOT report Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Service Demand, 2015-2035 [PDF], prepared for the U.S. Air Force. The report projects large numbers of UAS’s in the airspace, but this was not contemplated when NextGen was originally envisioned.

Can Cargo Drones Bring E-Commerce To Africa?

Countries that lag technologically sometimes leapfrog other more advanced economies. Perhaps the African continent has the opportunity to leapfrog the rest of the world and utilize drones to as a transportation method for goods. The Swiss École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is launching what they are calling the Flying Donkey Challenge, where teams create unmanned cargo aircraft to fly around Mount Kenya.