SkyX completes a data collection flight of a Mexican gas pipeline, Terra Drone uses the LTE network for unmanned traffic management, Europe moves toward drone standards, Maine law enforcement employs drones, China uses drones for monitoring forest fires, New Jersey tackles droning while drunk, and Airbus expands its investment in unmanned technology companies.
Canadian company SkyX Systems Corporation offers systems for monitoring long-range assets like oil and gas pipelines. Now they have successfully completed a 100 kilometer robotic data collection flight of a gas pipeline in Mexico. SkyX founder and CEO Didi Horn said, “More than $38 billion is spent annually monitoring oil and gas pipelines using less efficient means, which often identify problems only long after they’ve occurred.” The flight was programmed and monitored by SkyX at their Greater Toronto Area SkyCenter mission control center with a support crew of engineers on the ground in Mexico.
Japanese UAV service provider Terra Drone Inc. and telecommunications operator LG U+ have developed a 4G LTE control system that gives operators the ability to remotely monitor their drones through the LTE network. This provides beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capability
Terra Drone is also working with UNIFLY on the “Terra UTM” unmanned traffic management system. They want to promote international standardization of the system.
IATA (the International Air Transport Association) and ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) are working together to develop standards for commercial use of UAVs. ICAO has sent a letter to its member countries asking them to protect manned aircraft operations from drones.
The European Parliament and European Council negotiators have agreed to new regulations for civil use of UAVs by the EU member countries. “The design and manufacture of drones will have to comply with EU basic requirements on safety, security and personal data protection. Drones to be covered by the EU safety rules will be those that have an impact force of more than 80 joules if they hit a person.”
The Brunswick (Maine) Police Department is concerned about trespassers along railroad tracks and they want to use drones to patrol the tracks. Desiree French, a spokeswoman for the Federal Railroad Administration says, “This device will only be used for detection, not enforcement.” They hope to have the program operating by early summer 2018.
New Atlas gives us their “picks for the best unmanned aircraft to get a loved one buzzing come Christmas morning.”
The Chinese manufacturer of the CH-4 unmanned “rainbow drone” has made a deal with the regional forestry authority to monitor forest fires in northeast China. Previously, fire monitoring was performed by visual observation from fixed look-out posts and, occasionally from manned aircraft. The CH-4 is equipped with both visual and infrared sensors to allow it to see day and night and through fog.
New Jersey lawmakers are working on legislation that would make it illegal to operate a drone while drunk.” The bill also bans using a drone to hunt wildlife and endanger people or property, and criminalizes using drones that endanger safety at correctional facilities as well as interfering with first responders.
Airbus is taking a stake in uAvionix, a Montana-based startup developing miniaturized ADS-B transceivers for detect-and-avoid in UAVs. Airbus previously invested in AirMap, AEye, BestMile, and Cognata.