The impact of drones striking people, geo-restrictions in war zones, monitoring volcanic ash, structure inspections using UAVs and artificial intelligence, keeping wildlife away from crops, waste management with drones, swarming tactics, Project Wing update, and drone weaponization for law enforcement.
In order to create regulations for flying drones over people, the FAA needs to know what happens when a UAV strikes a human. A consortium of universities has been studying this, and their report identifies dominant injury types applicable to small drones. See: FAA and Assure Announce Results of Ground Collision Study.
Without much fanfare, DJI created no-fly zones over large areas of Iraq and Syria. Some speculate this was a move to thwart ISIS from using their drones.
A CNN reporter proved the no-fly zone could be defeated by covering the GPS on his DJI Mavic with tinfoil. Without GPS, the no-fly zones are disabled.
NASA has awarded a contract to Black Swift Technologies to develop and deliver a sUAS solution to explore volcanoes. Black Swift will provide an airframe, avionics, and sensors to measure gases, temperature, pressure, humidity, and winds, as well as particle sizes and trace gases. All this for improved air traffic management systems and more accurate measurements of ashfall.
AT&T Labs is studying how they can use artificial intelligence (AI) and video footage of cell towers taken by a drone. AT&T wants to eliminate the labor for physical inspections and video analysis.
In Tanzania, elephants sometimes graze on crops and destroy them, presenting a huge problem for the people trying to grow food. The U.S.-based nonprofit Resolve is testing the use of drones to drive the animals away.
A quadcopter is being used to map a regional landfill and provide volumetrics to the landfill management company. This information about the amount of air space remaining in existing landfill cells is critical for future development plans.
DARPA created the Service Academies Swarm Challenge where U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force academy teams compete and go from “zero to swarm in 8 months.” The research effort is an experiment where students develop offensive and defensive tactics for swarms of small UAVs.
Reportedly, Google parent Alphabet has significantly cut staff at Project Wing. Yet sources say the program is still alive and a major progress update and demonstration is expected before summer.
Legislation proposed in Connecticut would have made that state the first in the U.S. to allow law enforcement to use weaponized drones. However, the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee decided to let the legislation die. This was after drone attorney Peter Sachs wrote an email to all members of the Committee asking them to vote against the proposal.
UAV Video of the Week
The USS Alabama (BB-60) is a South Dakota Class Battleship, launched on April 16, 1942. It served during World War II in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This video was shot using a hexacopter with a GoPro at the USS Alabama Memorial Park.