A year after the crash of the prototype, testing of the Piaggio HammerHead UAS is underway again. We also look at drones and field biology, security, and swarming technology.
In May 2016, the prototype Piaggio Aerospace P.1HH HammerHead UAV crashed off the coast of Sicily. Reportedly, there were flight control system integration problems. Testing has now resumed and eight systems are to be delivered to the United Arab Emirates. The MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) Hammerhead is derived from the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II business aviation aircraft, a twin turboprop pusher aircraft.
GIS specialist Ben Nyberg is the lead drone pilot for the National Tropical Botanical Garden. While flying a drone at a 1,000-acre preserve in Hawaii, he discovered a very rare plant on a steep, inaccessible cliff. Less than 25 of these plants were thought to exist. With the drone, they discovered about 10 more of these plants, as well as several other critically endangered plants.
According to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson, “DHS does consider commercial drones configured or modified to employ explosives or weapons a concern. This is due to low-cost, ease of access, and the quick-pace of this evolving technology to adapt beneficial Unmanned System equipment for nefarious purposes.” The US Army has published a 13-page document, Counter – Unmanned Aircraft System Strategy Extract [PDF].
Drones are being spotted around military aircraft in the U.S. and the Air Combat Command has no authority to deal with them. It’s a civil authority that has to be granted first before it can be executed by military forces.
People have found ways to get around DJI’s flight restrictions and they’ve published the exploits online. DJI updated their software to break the hacks, but that just leads to another round in the battle.
Kratos Defense and Security Solutions subsidiary Micro Systems announced its WOLF-PAK swarming technology. There is no centralized control system and the swarm of autonomous vehicles follows a leader vehicle. Vehicles recognize and locate each other and keep a predefined distance apart.
WOLF-PAK demonstration video:
Walmart has reportedly been working with one of the UAS test sites to develop drone-based package delivery. But now the retailer is additionally engaging the UAS test site in upstate New York.
The DronesGlobal Slack Team is a members-only Slack team “for commercial drone operators, manufacturers, buyers, suppliers and experts from around the world.” There is a one-time fee of $49 and applications are subject to approval.
Your AOPA membership will get you 20% off the Drone World Expo conference or a free Expo pass. To be held October 3-4, 2017, at the San Jose Convention Center in the Capital of Silicon Valley.
Can I fly there? Is a drone safety app from CASA. It reflects the standard operating conditions for those flying their drone commercially (under the excluded category of commercial operations) and is a valuable educational and situational awareness tool for both commercial and recreational drone flyers.
XKCD provides another good drone comic.
FlytBase Inc. is a Silicon Valley startup creating developer tools for intelligent and connected commercial drones. They say their FlytBase Cloud platform helps developers connect drones with cloud-based business applications over a real-time secure link. It provides access to real-time drone control, telemetry and payload data.