Tag Archives: USAF

UAV187 Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Drones

Our guest explains the research on fuel cells as a power source for unmanned aircraft. In the news, an Airobotics drone operates without a human pilot, the USAF uses a drone for aircraft inspections, BVLOS inspections in Canada, an underwater autonomous vehicle, a drone for humanitarian missions, more Amazon UAS patents, and a Patriot missile takes out a small quadcopter.

Guest

Dr. Benjamin D. Gould is a Chemical Engineer in the Chemistry Division of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). He’s an expert in fuel cell power systems and specializes in the development of next-generation power sources for the US Navy.

The Ion Tiger in flight and a 550 W fuel cell

The Ion Tiger in flight and a 550 W fuel cell (insert). Image courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

We talk with Dr. Gould about the research the NRL is conducting with fuel cells and the Ion Tiger unmanned air vehicle. We learn how fuel cells produce electricity, and the reasons fuel cells are attractive for unmanned aircraft. Dr. Gould also explains the application of additive manufacturing to fuel cells, future research projects, and the availability of the hydrogen used as the fuel.

Dr. Gould earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2007 and his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 2002.  His research interests include additive manufacture of fuel cells, fuel cell recovery processes, bipolar plate design, open cathode fuel cells, and hydrogen safety. He was awarded the prestigious 2013 Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award for his work on fuel cells.

References:

UAV News

This Airobotics ‘homing’ drone flies and lands without any need for a human

Tel Aviv-based Airobotics wanted to build a drone that required no human operator. One that could take off, fly pre-programmed flights for up to 30 minutes, and then land without human assistance. The company now says they have “developed a platform that is fully automated, industrial grade, on-demand and multi-purpose.” The Airobotics 1 video shows the automated landing box and a robotic arm for automatic payload and battery exchange.

USAF looks at UAS flightline maintenance

A quadcopter has been tested for the maintenance inspection of a C-17 cargo plane at Edwards Air Force Base. The US Air Force’s 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force (CTF) flew three sorties on the flight line with a 3D Robotics Solo quadcopter. Next, they’ll analyze the video to determine if the resolution is good enough to see small details like structural abnormalities, rivets, and cracks. See also, First use of sUAS to inspect plane lessens load for maintainers.

Canadian UAVs completes first BVLOS pipeline and powerline inspections in Canada

Canadian UAVs Inc. and Lockheed Martin CDL Systems are teaming for BVLOS inspections of pipelines, wellheads, and power lines. Using a Lockheed Martin Indago 2 quadrotor, they demonstrated the capability at the UAV testing facility in Foremost, Alberta.

Canadian UAVs Inc. is a UAV solutions provider. Lockheed Martin CDL Systems specializes in the development and licensing of vehicle control station software for unmanned systems.

British UAV “Boaty” Will Go On First Antarctic Mission

“Boaty McBoatface” is a British UAV, an underwater autonomous vehicle. Researchers plan to use it to collect data about the effects of global warming on the world’s oceans. Boaty is to depart from southern Chile and head towards the Southern Ocean. Follow @BoatyMcBoatface on Twitter.

UK company develops edible drones to feed hungry

Windhorse Aerospace Pouncer

Windhorse Aerospace Pouncer

Windhorse Aerospace is developing a prototype of the Pouncer delta-wing drone. This single-use drone is designed to carry food and supplies on humanitarian missions. Windhorse says it’s “pre-formed shell can be reused to provide shelter, the frame can be burnt safely to cook food, and the payload, which is food and water, provides life-saving nutrition.” Not only that, but the company says, “One day, the airframe may be made of edible components.”

Amazon patents drones with telescoping landing legs and foldable propellers

If a drone lands on a sloping surface, it could fall over. But an Amazon patent contemplates independently telescoping legs that would allow it to stay level. Such legs could also act as a shock absorber, and be tipped with spikes, screws, suction cups, or magnets to grip different surfaces. Another Amazon patent shows adjustable winglets on propeller tips for flight efficiency.

UAV Video of the Week

Someone shot down a $200 drone with a $3M Patriot missile

Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, speaking at the 2017 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition, stated that someone described as a very close U.S. ally “dealing with an adversary flying a small quadcopter,” fired a Patriot surface-to-air missile at the drone. It worked.

Video: AUSA 2017 – GEN David Perkins, Commanding General, U.S. TRADOC

 

 

UAV163 The Best Drone Podcasts

The top 14 drone podcasts, FAA’s Huerta delivers InterDrone keynote, using drones to discover ancient geoglyphs, and a college course where students build real UAS business plans.

ProDrone PD6B-AW-ARM

ProDrone PD6B-AW-ARM

News

Top Drone Podcasts

Skytango looked at the available drone podcasts and made a list of the top 14. These are, in order of the number of episodes released so far:

  1. Ask Drone U
  2. The UAV Digest
  3. sUAS News Podcast
  4. DroneVibes Podcast
  5. Drone Radio Show
  6. Drone Law Today Podcast
  7. Let’s Drone Out
  8. Quad Talk FPV Podcast
  9. FPV Podcast
  10. Drone News
  11. Commercial Drones FM
  12. Aerial Insights
  13. Somedrones Podcast
  14. DroneLife Podcast

Industry, Regulators Look Beyond Small UAS Rule

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta delivered the keynote at InterDrone, and provided some interesting statistics:

  • The FAA estimates that as many as 600,000 UAS could be used commercially in the next year.
  • More than 520,000 hobbyists have registered.
  • Section 333 exemptions, which used to take three months to process, are being approved at a rate of several dozen a day.
  • Several Part 107 waivers are being granted per day. The current waiver approval time is around 90 days, but the FAA is trying to shorten that.

Drones will uncover the history of humans in the Amazon

The University of Exeter has partnered with the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil to use drones to study the impact of humans on the Amazon rain forest. Fixed-wing drones from Brazilian RPA manufacturer XMobots are fitted with a high quality, survey-grade laser device. These then scan the landscape and create a 3-D map where the landscape has been changed. Those geoglyphs represent candidates for archaeological digs.

Attrition: Sergeants Who Are Not Allowed To Shoot Back

The U.S. Air Force has experienced a shortage of drone operators since 2001. The operators they do have (who must be officers for armed UAVs) are thus overworked, and many leave the service. They sometimes find work with civilian contractors performing the same job and earn as much as three times the pay they received in the Air Force. Cash bonus incentives were tried by the USAF, but that proved to be ineffective.

New UND class puts focus on the business of drones

The Entrepreneurship 395 course at the University of North Dakota focuses on unmanned technology applications. Student groups work to develop business concepts which they present as a feasible UAS business plan for their final project.

Videos of the Week

Awesome new ‘drone surfing’ could be the future of rich-kid sports

A video from drone company Freefly features their $18,000 Alta 8 industrial-grade octocopter that is powerful enough to pull you over the water.

Terrifying ‘2-armed’ drone designed for dangerous ops

The six-rotor PD6B-AW-ARM from Japanese company ProDrone has two claw-tipped articulating arms hanging underneath it, ready and willing to perform tasks too dangerous for humans. The UAV has a maximum payload of about 10kg (22lb) and a flight time of up to 30 minutes.

Dual Robot Arm Large-Format Drone PD6B-AW-ARM

 

 

UAV154 Cargo Drone Challenge Winners

Crowdsourcing designs for cargo drones, UAS for higher education, US Air Force training enlisted RPA operators, NASA detect and avoid tests, delivering vaccine by drone, a woman freed by a Phantom, and drones interfering with wildfires.

ZELATOR

The ZELATOR by Alexey Medvedev from Omsk, Russia

News

Airbus reveals cargo UAV challenge winners

The Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge was created by Local Motors and Airbus Group to crowdsource the design of a commercial-grade package delivery drone for medical supplies and other types of cargo. Local Motors reports in Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge winners announced that 425 submissions were received, and assessed on mission performance, weight and balance, and preliminary flight performance. Video: Winners Revealed in the Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge by Local Motors.

Early Days for Drone Use in Higher Education

Drones in the academic environment offer the opportunity to focus on design and development and also using them for academic instruction and research. The Higher Education UAS Modernization Act would let students and educators operate UAVs without FAA approval if certain conditions are met.

Air Force plans 100 enlisted drone pilots by 2020

The Air Force expects to graduate the first class of enlisted airmen in 2017 for remotely piloted aircraft, specifically unarmed RQ-4 Global Hawks used for high-altitude reconnaissance missions. The graduates would become the first Air Force enlisted pilots since World War II.

NASA Concludes UAS NAS Integration Flight Tests

NASA has completed a two-month series of flight tests at Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. NASA tested technologies for Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) algorithms developed by NASA, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., Honeywell, and other partners. The tests included more than 260 scripted encounters between the Ikhana UAS and manned “intruder” aircraft. The algorithms successfully alerted the pilot on the ground.

Drones to unleash vaccine-laced pellets in bid to save endangered ferrets

The endangered black-footed ferrets in Montana eat prairie dogs, and both are susceptible to the sylvatic plague transmitted by fleas. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service wants to help the animals by dispensing vaccine-laden pellets from drones.  Note:  The article originally reported that the drones would shoot vaccine-laced M&Ms.

Video shows man use drone to save person trapped in bathroom

A woman in a bathroom was unable to unlock the door from the inside. A DJI Phantom trailing a string was flown over the bathroom window and the woman then tied the door key to the string. With the key in hand, those outside could unlock the door and free the woman.

Authorities in Utah can now legally disable or destroy drones near wildfires

Lawmakers approved a bill that would allow firefighters or law enforcement to shoot down or disable drones interfering with efforts to contain wildfires. The bill also provides for a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine if a drone causes a firefighting aircraft to crash.

Video of the Week

Engineers Hack Pokemon Go by Using a Drone

Thanks to @ProfVanderhoof’s sister Marianne for bringing this to our attention.

 

 

 

 

UAV103 Matternet Tests Autonomous Package Delivery

Matternet ONEPackage delivery by autonomous drone, drone company management changes, making interfering with firefighters illegal, drone service on demand, North Dakota innovation hub, drone photography contest results, USAF addresses pilot shortage, and accidents increase in Netherlands.

News

Swiss Postal Service, Air Cargo Carrier Begin Drone Testing

Freight carrier Swiss WorldCargo announced on July 7 that testing had begun using the Matternet ONE drone for small package delivery. The quadcopter operates autonomously and can carry one kilogram up to 10 kilometers on a single battery charge. Matternet says the drone uses “secure routes that adapt to weather, terrain and airspace [and] allow Matternet ONE to fly autonomously beyond line of sight, without the need for a human pilot.” The cloud-based routing system … ”guides the Matternet ONE along a secure route at low altitude – between 50-100 meters above ground – adjusting for inclement weather, avoiding tall buildings, mountains and restricted airspace.”

Chinese Manufacturer DJI Hires Prominent ‘Drone Lawyer’

Brendan Schulman, who defended Pirker against the FAA, has left law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel where he was head of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice. Now Schulman is Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs at drone maker DJI.

Other movements in the industry include:

  • Amazon hired former Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) counsel Ben Gielow in September as its senior manager of public policy.
  • Amazon appointed Sean Cassidy, a former Alaska Airlines pilot and first vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association, as director of partner relationships in March.
  • Last August, Google hired David Vos, a technology entrepreneur and former Rockwell Collins senior director, to lead its Project Wing effort to deliver packages.
  • In April, Francis “Chip” Sheller, the former Aerospace Industries Association vice president of communications and research, became vice president of communications and public affairs for Aurora Flight Sciences.
  • Former deputy director of the FAA’s flight standards service, John McGraw, acted as a consultant to video production companies applying for an FAA sUAS exemption.

After drone diverts fire-fighting planes, lawmakers want fines and jail time

California representative Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) introduced H.R. 3025 to the House of Representatives, which would make it a criminal offense to interfere with firefighting efforts on federal land.

Fly4Me gets FAA approval, launches ‘Uber for drones’

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Fly4Me received a Section 333 exemption to “conduct community training workshops, research and development, and aerial inspections of buildings and land within the United States.” Now the company wants to establish a marketplace where customers book flights and pilots bid on projects. Customers are able to interact with the pilot during the flight and stream FPV. A beta version of the platform was released June 17, 2015.

Is the Silicon Valley of Drones in North Dakota?

Grand SkyNorth Dakota wants to be an innovation hub for drones. Grand Sky Development Park is set to open this summer at Grand Forks Air Force Base as a UAS Business and Aviation Park. The facility features 1.2 million square feet of hangar and office space, and a runway for drones. The state invested $5 million in infrastructure and $7.5 million more in grants for runway improvements.

The 2015 Drone Aerial Photography Contest

Dronestagram announced the winners of its second annual photo competition. The contest was judged by National Geographic and Dronestagram CEO and founder Eric Dupin. Nine photographs are depicted from the more than 5,000 entries submitted. Contest sponsors included National Geographic, Kodak, Parrot, Go Pro, Hexo+, Picanova, Hobbico, and Adobe.

AF rolls out details to improve RPA mission

The U.S Air Force has a plan to address the RPA pilot shortage that includes a Critical Skills Retention Bonus for RPA pilots, assignment of about 80 Undergraduate pilot training graduates to RPA squadrons beginning in August, and spending more than $100 million to buy six next-generation ground control stations, training simulators, and contract instructors.

UAS Accidents Rise in Netherlands

According to the Dutch Transport Ministry, inspectors received reports of 8 small unmanned aircraft accidents in 2012, 15 in 2013, and 27 in 2014. Most of the incidents were reported by manned aircraft and professional drone users and eleven of the 2014 incidents involved a crash landing close to people or buildings. New rules governing the use of drones come into effect later this year.

Video of the Week

Feeding Corn in Iowa

A Hagie machine applies liquid fertilizer to miles of corn with Y-Drops. Filmed with an DJI Inspire-1.

Mentioned

Our Real Red Selves

This book contains the work of three authors, including Harry Giles’ Drone, which explores modern warfare and office life. Harry tells us that there will be a performance of the poetry in August at the Edinburgh Festival this year at Summerhall.

 

UAV075 Charge Your Drone on a Pad

Skysense charging pad

A charging pad for your drone, USAF Unmanned Systems faces a huge manpower problem, real estate and agriculture gain FAA exemptions, timeline for ICAO RPAS standards, and UAS in Canada.

News

New Charging Pad for Parrot Drones Changes the Way You Charge Your Batteries

The portable Skysense Charging Pad is said to support nearly all existing multicopters and VTOL aircraft. Plug the Pad into an electrical outlet, land your drone on the Pad, and your batteries will charge at the same rate as your regular charging cable. Pads are available in different widths and should ship next month.

Skysense also offers the Droneport, “a protective closed structure that is managed remotely and can hold a Skysense Charging Pad and your drone. It also provides synching of sensor data to the cloud and connectivity within your Skysense Droneport network.”

Drone War pushes pilots to the Breaking Point

The U.S, Department of Defense wants 61 Combat Air Patrols (CAP) per day by April 15. Each CAP requires four Predators or Reapers for 24-hour coverage. These require ten “men” per drone per CAP, for a total of forty. With a shortage of drone pilots, the crews have high workload and low morale.

FAA Grants Real Estate, Agricultural UAS Exemptions

The FAA granted two exemptions on January 6. One was to Douglas Trudeau with Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona. Their DJI Phantom 2+ quad will be used to “enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos.”

The second exemption was to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, Washington. Their fixed wing senseFly eBee will fly to take “photographic measurements and perform crop scouting for precision agriculture.”

Both still need a COA “that ensures the airspace for their proposed operations is safe, and that they have taken proper steps to see and avoid other aircraft. In addition, the COAs will mandate flight rules and timely reporting of any accident or incidents.”

The FAA has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

ICAO Panel Will Recommend First UAV Standards in 2018

The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) new Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Panel is focusing “on development of standards and recommended practices (SARPs) for adoption by the Council of ICAO in 2018 related to airworthiness, operations (including RPAS operator certification) and licensing of remote pilots.” Detect and avoid regulations are to follow in 2020.

Cameraman hit with $1,000 fine for filming with drone

The co-founder of a Canadian video and photography company that uses drones was fined by Transport Canada after a real estate shoot. He’s fighting the fine, saying that Transport Canada’s rules on flying unmanned aerial aircraft are not clear.

City man has high hopes for school for drone pilots

Buoyant Aircraft Systems International in Winnipeg wants to develop a flight school for UAV pilots. They plan to take the idea to Transport Canada’s UAV working group in April for approval, and could be teaching by August, if approved.

Video of the Week 

Coast Guard Helo takes out drone

In August 2014, a hurricane caused heavy surf off the coast of California. That brought out body surfers, boogie boarders, and surfers, along with thousands of spectators and some camera-equipped quadcopters. One of the copters didn’t fare too well in the Coast Guard helicopter downdraft.

Mentioned

50 Things You Can Do With A Drone

Some applications you’ve seen before, some you haven’t, and some you shouldn’t.