Tag Archives: traffic management

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.

 

 

 

 

UAV179 Online UAS Training Offerings

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

Vanilla Aircraft VA001

The VA001 10-day Endurance UAS, courtesy Vanilla Aircraft

UAV News

King Schools Announces Unmanned Aircraft Knowledge Course

Embry-Riddle Offers UAV Basics Class Online

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

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

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

Buckling Down On UAV Traffic Control

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

The project will:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Agribotix and senseFly Announce Agricultural Drone & Data Processing Solution

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

UAV Video of the Week

Drone Trippin on AirVūz

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

Mentioned

Top Drone Websites On The Internet 2017

 

 

 

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.

UAV106 UAS Traffic Management

NASA UTM Chart]Observations from the NASA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management Convention, including the Amazon Prime Air proposal for drone traffic management.

Guest

Max Trescott attended the NASA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management Convention (or UTM) and gives us his impressions of the event. Max is a general aviation pilot, a certified flight instructor, an aviation author, and a glass cockpit expert. He also flies quadcopters.

Discussion

The UTM convention was an opportunity for NASA and others to share their visions for managing low altitude commercial drone traffic. Presentations were given by Amazon, Google, Cisco, FAA, NTSB, DOD, California DOT, law enforcement, and others. There were panel discussions, vendor displays, and demonstrations.

Google talked about the role of “Airspace Service Provider” (ASP). Under this concept, UAV operators would file flight plans with an ASP, which would then coordinate these with other ASPs to ensure non-conflicting flights. Google is said they are developing a lightweight, low-cost dual band ADS-B transceiver. FreeFlight Systems showed prototype weighing just 215 grams.

Amazon details its plan for how drones can fly safely over U.S. skies

Amazon drone management proposal

Amazon Prime Air vice president Gur Kimchi described Amazon’s idea for a drone air traffic management system. In Amazon’s view, drones with different capabilities would have different airspace rights, with an underlying control system managing it all.

Airspace under 200 feet would be designated for low-speed local traffic. Drones in that zone wouldn’t require the most sophisticated collision-avoidance technology. Airspace from 200-400 feet would be for high-speed transit – the highway for drones. Sophisticated sense-and-avoid technology would be a requirement there. Finally, a no-fly buffer zone would exist from 400 to 500 feet.

UTM builds

As a technology enabler, NASA is developing an airspace management control system. They plan four “builds” of the software over the next 4 years. Build 1 is a reservation system for exclusive access to the airspace and is due out August 2015. The culminating Build 4 in March 2019 would manage beyond line-of-sight drone flights in congested urban areas.