Initiatives announced by the U.S. Government and private sector that advance the integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the National Airspace System. Also, a 2.5 ounce ADS-B solution, drones that obstruct fighting wildfires, and drones that help fight wildfires.
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation
At the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation, many steps were announced that advance the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System:
- The National Science Foundation will receive $35 million to research how UAS can be deployed for applications like infrastructure inspections, disaster response, agricultural, and studying severe storms
- The U.S. Department of the Interior will use UAS in search-and-rescue operations and to augment manned aircraft operations.
- UAS industry associations committed to implement educational programs that address privacy best practices.
- The FAA will charter an Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST) similar to the existing Commercial Aviation Safety Team. Government and industry stakeholders will “analyze safety data and develop non-regulatory interventions to mitigate potential causes of accidents involving unmanned aircraft.” See FAA Announces Drone Advisory Committee.
- By winter 2017, the FAA will propose rules for operating sUAS over people, and ask for public comment.
- NASA will conduct research on detect-and-avoid and command-and-control technologies that lead to standards.
- NASA and the FAA will launch a data exchange working group under the UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research team to develop common a data format for sharing information between UAS operators and UTM users.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will begin collecting gravity measurements with RPVs that improve surface elevation measurements over the United States. NOAA will also investigate how to add UAS observing capabilities to the NOAA fleet of ships.
- The Department of the Interior (DOI) will share near-real-time fire location information with the public by July 2017. By December 2017, the DOI will augment manned aircraft missions by developing payloads that can be flown by UAS. By October 2018, the DOI will develop and maintain a training program for the use of UAS in Search and Rescue (SAR).
- The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General will publish new findings and analysis of public opinion on drone deliveries.
In the private sector:
- Zipline International will demonstrate using UAVs to deliver medical supplies in hard-to-reach areas.
- Flirtey will focus on humanitarian applications for drone delivery technology.
- The Commercial Drone Alliance will lead an effort to educate the American public on the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.
- Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), will develop and broadcast drone safety public service announcements.
- Alphabet’s Project Wing will conduct an operational research study of delivery drones at an FAA UAS Test Site. See Alphabet will begin testing its delivery drones inside the US at test centers. They will also “develop and deploy an open-interface, airspace management solution for safe low-altitude small UAS (sUAS) operations using existing low cost, scalable communication and information technologies.”
- The Drone Racing League (DRL) will release best practices for the drone racing industry, including event guidelines, organization, and safety measures
- PrecisionHawk is announcing its Phase I Pathfinder results demonstrating the safety of extended visual line of sight (EVLOS) operations for drones in rural areas.
- The Women of Commercial Drones organization and the Commercial Drone Alliance announced their collaboration to advance women’s participation in the UAS industry.
- DJI is supporting 4-H’s National Youth Science Day in October 2016. This year’s theme is “Drone Discovery,” to inspire kids and young adults to explore science, technology and engineering in more depth.
- DroneBase and Drones & Good are forming a partnership to provide transitioning military Veterans with training programs and apprenticeships to start a career in the commercial drone industry.
Details of the Workshop initiatives can be found in: FACT SHEET: New Commitments to Accelerate the Safe Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
uAvionix showed its micro ADS-B products at AirVenture and created quite a stir among the experimental and light sport aircraft crowd. The “Ping Chip” micro-circuitry was designed and built by uAvionix for the mass UAV market. The 12-gram pingBuddy is a low-cost receiver with built-in Wi-Fi and ADS-B dual link in.
Darren Liccardo, the VP of Engineering for DJI says, “DJI developers will now be able to process ADS-B data and close the loop all within an embedded computer onboard the vehicle.” With a Ping ADS-B receiver, a drone could sense surrounding aircraft and take action if necessary, to avoid a collision. The DJI Onboard Software Development Kit (SDK) allows access to the flight control system of the drone, so developers could create custom applications for collision avoidance rules that are applicable to the specific mission.
Wildfires can sometimes be stopped through controlled burns, which seek to eliminate the fuel for the fire. This can be dangerous and expensive, and now the University of Nebraska is conducting tests where a sUAS is used to deliver flammable balls that initiate a controlled burn.
“Range 12” refers to a wildfire in southeastern Washington State, where drones continue to interfere with firefighting efforts. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Randall Rishe says, “I have been on the ground with a tool in my hands, where you have a fire coming right at you. You need that helicopter making that drop right in front of you to help it slow down so you can dig that line. And there’s a drone. That helicopter has to leave, and it’s like your saving grace, you watch fly away.”
Video of the Week
In honor of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games here’s a video showing all the venues.