Tag Archives: search and rescue

UAV197 NASA UAS Traffic Management (UTM) System Tests

NASA UAS Traffic Management system testing at the UAS test sites, Arizona law enforcement uses a drone to find a missing man, a drone company becomes a drone data company, DARPA studies mid-flight multitasking for small drones, a University of Calgary study of drone incidents, and fuel cells for drones.

The Kespry fully autonomous aerial intelligence system

The Kespry fully autonomous aerial intelligence system. Image courtesy Kespry.

UAV News

NIAS and NASA test the Next Phase of NASA’s UAS Traffic Management System

Tests for NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) system are being conducted at the six UAS test sites in the “Technology Capability Level 2 (TCL2) National Campaign.” The first tests were held at the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems.

NCSO uses UAV to find missing man

After receiving a call about a man who was missing in the woods, the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona deployed their drone for the search. The disoriented man was found in about 45 minutes.

Transforming a Drone Company into a Data Company

Kespry says they are “focused on making it easy to capture, process, use and share high-resolution information from the field.” They offer “a fully autonomous aerial intelligence system” that tries to eliminate the need to integrate multiple systems from multiple vendors. In effect, their complete drone solution makes them more of a data company than a drone company.”

DARPA program to allow for mid-flight multitasking drone missions

A small UAS can often carry only one payload due to power, weight, and size constraints. Under the CONverged Collaborative Elements for RF Task Operations (CONCERTO) program, DARPA is looking at multiple payloads that share common RF components. BAE Systems has been awarded $5.4 million in contracts to help develop technology that allows operating modes to switch mid-flight. See the video: CONCERTO Concept of Operations

Close encounters of the drone kind becoming more common, U of C study says.

A new University of Calgary study finds there are more drones in the air than manned aircraft. There were 355 drone incidents reported in Canadian airspace between November 2005 and December 2016, and 22% of them involved close encounters between drones and piloted aircraft. Most incidents involve non-licensed operators.

Will Hydrogen Fuel Cells Help Drones Stay in the Air?

Three options today for increasing electric UAV time-in-the-air are tethered devices, solar power, and in-the-field rapid battery replacements. However, fuel cell power systems are gathering steam and two private companies are innovating and offering products: Protonex, based in Massachusetts, is focused on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology for small, light UAV applications; China-based MMC is currently manufacturing and distributing two models of fuel cells.

UAV Videos of the Week

Playing Pong with Drones

3DR Interns Ian McNanie and Josh Jacobs have programmed a group of drones to play a game of pong in the air. One base station communicates with the swarm of drones.

Brad Byrd – Highest Mountain

The Highest Mountain music video from singer/songwriter Brad Byrd was shot and directed by Dylan Kussman (Dead Poets Society, Jack Reacher, X-men) using DJI Zenmuse X5 video drones.

Mentioned

Nova Systems Completes Multi-drone UTM Trial

Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) system trials are taking place in Australia. The trial that Nova Systems participated in explored different Remotely Piloted Aircraft types and sizes, payload capabilities (including live payload distribution over an LTE network), the effectiveness of each UTM (some of which relied upon the LTE network), control of drones over the LTE network, and a new approach to range safety.

Drone Problems

A humorous cartoon from XKCD about drone operators who seem to crash a lot.

 

 

 

 

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.

UAV060 Searching for the Missing

MLB Super BatFAA grants an emergency COA, Reno is not just for manned aircraft anymore, Chinese inflatable UAVs, more UAS regulations, and more bad behavior with drones.

News

Drones Get Waiver to Search for Missing Texas Woman Christina Morris

The FAA granted an Emergency COA to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of Gaithersburg, MD in order to utilize an Unmanned Aircraft System in the search for a woman missing in Texas.

Under the Emergency COA, NIST was able to operate an unmanned aircraft through contractor Texas EquuSearch, a non-profit organization that assists with locating missing individuals.

The FAA issues COAs “on an emergency basis when: 1) a situation exists in which there is distress or urgency and there is an extreme possibility of a loss of life; 2) the proponent has determined that manned flight operations cannot be conducted efficiently; and 3) the proposed UAS is operating under a current approved COA for a different purpose or location.”

Texas EquuSearch used the NIST’s catapult-launched MLB Super Bat, but did not locate the woman. The search was subsequently suspended until more leads could be developed.

Reno air races draw new kind of aircraft: drones

This year’s National Championship Air Races in Reno included the Small UAS Challenge, designed to test speed, agility, and strength. Contestants navigated an obstacle course, and participated in a time trial and a dead lift. A “Drone Zone” gave event attendees an opportunity to learn more about unmanned aerial vehicles and systems.

Tianjin expo reveals Chinese UAV innovations, aspiration and Now that’s an AIRplane! Homemade inflatable drone reaches speeds of 120mph

The Chinese are actively seeking to develop their aviation industry, and that includes unmanned vehicles. At the Tianjin International UAV and Model Aircraft Technology Exhibition, a family of UAVs were shown that featured inflatable bodies. The  SF-1, SF-2 and SF-3 have wingspans of 2.5 m, 3 m and 4.3 m respectively, and a useful load of 25 kg. They can be inflated with either air, helium, or hydrogen.

This development reminds David of the experimental Goodyear Inflatoplane, produced in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

Europe Outlines Action Plan For UAV Policymaking

Matthew Baldwin, the director of aviation and international transport affairs with the European Commission (EC) had some comments from the UAS 2014 conference held in London:

  • The task of creating a regulatory framework that promotes UAS but addresses safety and privacy concerns.
  • The current European framework is fragmented, and that’s a competitive disadvantage.
  • Thresholds based on UAV weight are inconsistent, absurd, and arbitrary.

Baldwin said, “We believe that EASA [the European Aviation Safety Agency] is best placed to develop rules, and we envisage an EC proposal early next year to cover safety, liability and insurance, security privacy and so on.”

This Dunkable Drone Will Suck Up Whale Snot for Science

Whales have blowhorns that are lined with mucus and researchers want to collect that mucus to determine the health of the whale. Obviously, whale mucus is not easy to collect. The Olin College of Engineering has tackled this problem by developing and testing a drone they call Snot Bot. They want the FAA to give them permission to use it on real whales.

Pilot spots drone flying near Nashville airport runway

On approach to Nashville International Airport, the pilot of an American Eagle flight spotted a hovering drone. ATC notified the police air unit and the FAA is investigating.

Drones snooping into homes

Residents in this town are complaining about drones snooping around. One woman says her son had friends over for a pool party, and suddenly a drone was hovering overhead.  Neighbors also report seeing a drone after dark with flashing red and green lights.

Videos of the Week

Keep an eye on battery life

Max Trescott sends in this close call where the pilot saves his DJI Phantom before it sinks into the water.

DJI Phantom and GoPro 3 Black go for a swim

Note:  This video contains some profanity

In this video passed to us by Neal, a Phantom is not so lucky. But the GoPro keeps recording underwater!

Feedback

Tethered UAS

Since the FAA excludes tethered aircraft from its unmanned aircraft policy, listener Eric wondered if a tethered UAS is likewise excluded. So he asked them, “does the FAA have any guidelines in regards to tethered aircraft?”  The FAA’s response:

“The short answer is no.  We had looked at tethered UAS a couple years ago or so.  The story is we thought they could be considered like a kite or moored balloon covered under 14 CFR Part 101.  There was an internal discussion and our lawyers weighed in and deemed them aircraft, tethered or not.  Tethering is merely a very good safety mitigation.  Since they are aircraft, they must comply with all civil 14 CFR rules in place.  That means the civil UAS must be certified by the FAA as airworthy.  Currently the industry & FAA standards to make that determination are not yet fixed.  This along with many other integration problems yet to be solved makes the current civil use of UAS extremely limited.  Governmental uses enjoy a bit more freedom to use UAS since each governmental entity self-certifies its aircraft.”

“An operator could petition the FAA for an exemption under 14 CFR Part 11.  Tethering would help in proving to the FAA the operator can meet an equivalent level of safety to the NAS [National Airspace System].”

LiPo Battery Safety Tips

Luke Harris sends along some good advice for LiPo batteries:

  • When charging, never leave your battery unattended.  NEVER!  This is the stage where if a fault is present the battery can could possibly catch fire.
  • Never charge a battery indoors.  Ideally charge on the concrete outside and keep the battery in a LiPo safety bag while charging.
  • Always use a balance charger and ensure you select the correct setting on your charger that matches the battery.  Avoid ‘fast charging’.  The most common model of charger in Australia is the ‘swallow charger’.
  • Know your batteries, purchase a battery checker than can read the total capacity of the battery as well as individual cells.  When you land your model, aim to have a total charge remaining of 40%.    Never fly until the battery is empty, this will lead to problems when trying to charge.
  • If you charge a battery it is safe to store them in your LiPo safety bag if the weather is not ideal for flying, for around one month.  If you plan to store your batteries for a long period of time, discharge them to 30-40%.
  • Any sign of puffing batteries, dispose of them immediately.  They are not expensive to replace and not worth risking a fire.  Dispose by dropping the battery into a bucket of salt water.