UAS Digest #13—This edition is being published after a short week, due to the Thanksgiving holiday but there is a lot of news!
→ Toddler blinded as drone slices his eye in half—This is exactly the type of news which will turn the general public against UAS.
→ Rules Announced For Flying Drones—Reno Airport reiterates FAA rules and mentions how they apply to the airport.
→ PCS Edventures! Announces Launch Of New Educational App Droneology—”The Droneology ED! App delivers highly relevant content at a time when the FAA is predicting heavy drone sales this holiday season,” said Dahlton Grover, the in-house PCS Droneologist and driving force behind the title. “We wanted to create an exciting educational introduction to safety and responsibility for new drone users,” explained Grover. “There are increasing safety concerns surrounding drones and we want recreational users and general consumers to be properly educated on the fundamentals of safety and operation. If you’re buying a drone for a family member this holiday season, buy Droneology for a stocking stuffer. “The seven lessons cover: introduction to drones, flight basics, flight safety, basic piloting skills, laws and regulations, ethical operations, and the future of drones. The course is unique because it addresses more than just the technical aspect of what makes a drone fly.
FAA Policy and Authorization
→ Model Airplane Hobbyists Skeptical Of Proposed Drone Registry—“The AMA was part of the FAA’s task force to come up with new drone rules, but the group appears to be dissatisfied with the results, claiming ‘these recommendations, as written, would make the registration process an unnecessary and unjustified burden’ to its members, and noting that for decades model airplanes and people-carrying airplanes have coexisted.”
→ The Model Plane Hobbyist Versus Drone Pilot Culture War Heats Up—“’It’s a bit of a mixed bag,’ Richard Hanson of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, tells Inverse. ‘There is a large number of members who are wary of the users of this technology going out and doing stupid things and giving a bad name to our hobby.’”
→ Auckland team wins drone competition, attracts Hollywood interest—“A group of former Auckland University students has won $50,000 in a competition aimed at developing world-leading drone technology for the film, media, and gaming industries in a competition endorsed by movie mogul James Cameron…VorTech’s entry involves a cutting edge propeller design inspired by work in developing wind turbines that allows it to thrust in any direction including upside down and hold its position in strong winds.”
→ Insurance market delves into UAS technologies—Insurer and §333 company partner to create “UAS programmes for their claims processes, with the aim providing safer pre- and post-loss assessments with aerial flyovers, and customized UAV-training tailored to the needs of field adjusters and additional experts seeking certification.”
→ FAA, Drones and Registration . . . It’s Coming—Very useful analysis of the registration issue.
→ Schumer: FAA, OMB Must Expedite New Drone Regulations—The Senior NY Senator asks the White House’s regulatory review to be expedited.
→ Airborne innovation—“There is a proliferation of such startups in Europe, where regulations on the use of drones in public places have been passed in many countries—thereby providing legal certainty for operators—and are mostly more permissive than those in America, for example. Andrew Charlton, of the Small UAV Coalition, a lobby group for the industry, argues that this is a big reason why ‘over 50% of the world’s drone activity, its new systems, is happening in Europe—big business is emerging.’”
→ M’sia exploring potential of drones for postal delivery— Malaysian government explores the idea and the postal carrier union opposes.
→ Team UAV Saving The Mining Industry Thousands in GBP—“After the first UAV scouting and analysis, it was clear there were additional benefits of using drones alongside traditional survey methods than just improved stockpile accuracy… Team UAV were able to completely remove the need for a surveyor on site, negating the need to even step foot inside the high risk quarry instead, the team were able to take off safely from a vantage point overlooking the quarry… Team UAV were able to demonstrate their “live stockpile analysis” giving results as they happen, using a mixture of very bespoke technology, software and skilled operators. This meant that the accounts department had the most up to date, accurate figures available by mid day on the same day that the survey was carried out, regardless of what day the last day of the month falls on.”
→ Will Actual Human Beings Navigate the Amazon Delivery Drones?—“Greg Nichols at ZDNet noted Tuesday, “the video raises an interesting question: Who exactly is going to fly those delivery drones?” Nichols proceeds to answer his own question by observing that if Amazon has its way, the drones will likely fly themselves.”
→ 6 myths about Amazon Prime Air and drone delivery, debunked—The specific criticisms are worth reading; each makes quite practical observations. It would be interesting to see how the innovators explain how they can deal with these issues.
→ A Streaming Camera on this RC Paper Airplane Lets You Ride Along—“PowerUp Toys first revolutionized the paper airplane as we know it by creating a lightweight upgrade kit that added a motor and rudder to the craft, essentially turning it into an RC toy that could be piloted from a smartphone app. But technology marches on, electronics get smaller, and now PowerUp Toys has found a way to put a tiny live streaming camera on a paper airplane you fold yourself.”
→ Using UAVs to Improve Flood Risk Management— The images provide detailed information to monitor the characteristics of water courses and the effect these have on the surrounding areas. The photographs show details which help to identify areas of erosion or slow moving water and could provide critical data to the Environment Agency to assist in identifying areas of erosion, any places that may require restoration, and areas vulnerable to flooding.
→ FOX21 debuts first drone cleared for media use in Colorado—“The 4K (4 times the resolution of high definition TV) drone is the first federally sanctioned quadcopter aircraft cleared for media use in Colorado. The drone, SKYFOX21, is a DJI Inspire 1 model and provides 360 degree views from aloft. THE FAA granted Media General, FOX21’s parent company, the ability to fly the drone.”
People in Drone Nation
→ How Aeryon Labs intends to keep its industrial drone business aloft—Really an interview with the company’s CEO Dave Kroetsch, “Typical of those involved in the early drone community, a mechanically inclined kid who liked to tinker with electronics. He was a member of the first high school team to enter the International Aerial Robotics Competition, the longest-running event of its kind, and he continued on the circuit while studying engineering at the University of Waterloo.”
→ State resident’s drone sparks privacy debate—A private resident in Oklahoma is using drones in his efforts to fight prostitution, and his surveillance video from the unmanned aerial vehicle has sparked a debate over privacy issues.
→ FAA approves K-State Polytechnic for unmanned aircraft training—“A Section 333 exemption permits the polytechnic campus to construct, create and supervise a training program to operate unmanned aircrafts. The authorization is limited to allow the training of students. ‘Kansas State’s UAS program continues to be a leader and innovator in the UAS industry,’Kurt Carraway, UAS program manager at K-State Polytechnic, said in a release. ‘Our goal is to produce the most relevant and professional graduate possible, and we can now offer an exclusive flight training program that will take the student experience to the next level. Kansas State Polytechnic is essentially setting the standard on how to educate tomorrow’s unmanned pilots.’”
→ Toy drones pose more risk to planes than birds, study says—“Drones will ‘most certainly’ cause more damage to aircraft than birds, which have caused airliners to crash, according to the study by Aero Kinetics Aviation of Fort Worth, Texas. Drones are made of solid plastics, batteries and metal, which cause greater damage in a collision compared to bird flesh, the study found….’A head-on drone strike into the inlet of a turbine engine on a commercial airliner on approach or departure would cause severe damage to the engine and potentially a catastrophic failure,’ the company said in the study.”
→ CACI launches SkyTracker UAV detection system—” SkyTracker’s detection, identification and tracking system establishes a sensor perimeter that uses a UAV’s radio links to locate drone systems flying in banned or protected airspace. The system can also track the location of the UAV’s ground operator. CACI says the system is ideal from protecting high-value public and private spaces, such as airports, stadiums, law enforcement, agriculture and others.”
→ Lockheed Martin Conducts Collaborative Unmanned Systems Demonstration—“Lockheed Martin demonstrated its ability to integrate unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations into the National Airspace System (NAS) using its prototype UAS Traffic Management (UTM) capabilities, the company said in a Dec. 2 release…. During the demonstration on Nov. 18, the Stalker XE UAS provided data and a precise geolocation to the unmanned K-MAX cargo helicopter, which conducted water drops to extinguish a fire, while the UTM tracked the UAS operations and communicated with Air Traffic Control in real time.”
Technology Development and Research
→ Amazon Patent Reveals How Delivery Drones Could Avoid Crashing Into Your Home—Amazon files for intellectual property protection for its sense and avoid system.
→ EDA project to reduce vulnerability of lightweight UAV structures—An EU project “(i) defining a UAV design and development process for vulnerability reduction to be integrated in the design process, (ii) demonstrating an improvement of the current UAV modelling, simulation and design capabilities, and (iii) providing a guideline on the costs associated with the development of a vulnerability-improved UAV.”
→ A Belgian startup is trying to make ‘the world’s safest drone’—Fleye “claims that its spherical, football-shaped unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and enclosed propeller make it the world’s safest drone.”
→ Flying Robots Are the Future of Solar—“A utility-scale photovoltaic solar farm with tens of thousands of panels covering thousands of acres of land.Now, picture a squadron of tiny flying robots buzzing up and down the endless strings of solar panels like bees in a clover field. They’re hunting not for nectar, but for data. Perhaps they’re looking at how much dust has collected on any particular panel, or identifying areas where fast-growing trees and grasses have begun to cast shade over certain strings in late afternoons. Or maybe they’re swarming to investigate a problem the control room has found, but can’t explain.”
Restrictions from other than the Federal Government
→ Two Ohio bills to stiffen penalties for drones—One “establishes a new criminal offense, ‘engaging in criminal activity through use of a drone’ for flying or supervising an unmanned system, and would be an unclassified felony entailing a fine and prison time”; the second “would make flying a drone near airports a first-degree felony that could carry up to 11 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.”
→ China to regulate flying of civilian drones—“…the regulation will ban small drones from delivering packages to urban residents. Such drone-based delivery systems are being developed and tested by online shopping service providers like the US firm Amazon…”This is because the detection and collision-avoidance systems on small drones are not good enough to avoid the dense building clusters and electric wires. A collision and crash will compromise the safety of people on the ground,” he said…Under the new regulation, a drone that weighs less than 25 kg and flies at an altitude of lower than 150 metres will be exempted from an airworthiness certification but will still need to register with the civil aviation authority, he said…Those weighing from 25 to 150 kg will have to go through airworthiness certification before they are allowed to operate…All flights performed by drones will be required to submit a flight plan before an aircraft takes off.
→ University creating policy to reduce drone use on campus—The University of Kansas proposes a policy to ensure anyone who wants to fly an unmanned aerial system on campus has approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and the universi Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, a professor of aerospace engineering who has patented several drones, said the university’s aerospace faculty has not been consulted about the policy, which he says has “really, really serious problems…It’ll allow the flight of dangerous items while disallowing the flight of harmless aircraft…It’ll hamper research really unnecessarily. It’ll violate academic freedom.”
→ Judge Comes Down Hard on Drone-Downer—FL judge finds that 65 year old woman who brought down a drone hovering over her property with hand thrown rocks must pay restitution.
→ Tompkins drafts drone regulations as sales expected to soar—Over AMA objections, NY’s Tompkins County proposes regulations “which would prohibit UAVs from flying less than 150 feet above the ground when crossing private property, unless the drone operator has written permission from the property owner…The resolution imposes a $250 fine for a first offense. A second offense within a year would bring a $500 fine, and third offense within two years would constitute a misdemeanor with a maximum $1,000 fine and one-year jail sentence…Drone operators would need written permission from property owners to take video or photographs of activities occurring inside a private residence, according to the resolution.