The Weekly Drone Publication
UAS Digest #77

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Congress &
Legislative Action
FAA Action &
Reaction to FAA
Law Enforcement, Restriction & Threats Regulatory Action Person in
Drone Nation
Business, Market Forecast & Investing Privacy, Safety & Security Legal Information Education
& Training
Operational Research
& Development
Economic Development News Media Use Racing &
International Development Innovative Products Events


A first in the US? 30 days in jail for drone crash that knocked woman unconscious.



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weekly drone publication

→  Man gets 30 days in jail for drone crash that knocked woman unconscious – The owner of an aerial photography business was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine after a drone he was operating crashed into people during a 2015 parade and knocked one woman unconscious. Paul Skinner, 38, was found guilty of reckless endangerment by Judge Willie Gregory of the Seattle Municipal Court. Gregory acknowledged that the collision was accidental, not intentional, but felt a punishment was in order, as Skinner had “engaged in conduct that put people in danger of being injured.”

→  CareFlite helicopter narrowly misses collision with drone in Denton – The pilot and two emergency personnel on board were on their way to pick up a patient about 5:30 p.m. when a drone flying in the area almost hit them, said Jim Swartz, CareFlite CEO. The helicopter was flying at 500 to 600 feet, about four miles outside the airport. “It was a near-miss. It was a very dangerous situation.”

→  Officials: Drone Interrupted Texas Wildfire Control Efforts – The Texas A&M Forest Service says two air tankers were grounded on Feb. 23 in Erath County when the drone appeared at the wildfire’s perimeter. Officials say one aircraft had dropped retardant on flames and the second plane was following to drop as well when the drone flew into its path, nearly causing a collision.

Business, Market Forecast & Investing

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→  Ford “Autolivery” — Self-Driving Van That Functions As Hub For Delivery Drones – “The innovative ‘Autolivery’ concept, developed by a team of Ford employees for the company’s Last Mile Mobility Challenge, imagines electric self-driving vans used together with drones to pick up and drop off goods and packages in urban areas. The concept can be experienced through virtual reality headsets at Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, in Barcelona, as part of Ford’s vision of the ‘City of Tomorrow’.”

→  Drone rental marketplace Up Sonder goes national – Now you can rent your neighbor’s drone or hire a certified pilot for one-time commercial jobs. The person who lists a drone sets the price, with drones averaging just under $80 per day, and services costing a little over $500. However, there is a wide range of pricing depending on many variables, such as location, the drone model, whether cameras or other equipment is included, and the specific service that is being requested. A cell tower inspection would likely be much more expensive than a simple aerial real estate photo, for example.

→  Solar industry looks to drones for competitive edge – Small drones armed with the latest cameras can scout prospective locations before solar farm projects are started. By mapping the land below down to the nearest millimeter, solar companies can cut costs, minimize environmental impact and use land as efficiently as possible. This kind of attention to detail at the project design stage can help renewable energy providers compete with fossil fuel power in the long run.

→ Drone Startup Lily Robotics Files Chapter 11 – The company netted 61,450 pre-orders for its drone cameras, generating about $38.4 million, according to court papers. But it announced last month that it had been unable to find enough financing to go into production.

→  Parrot to pursue profits with commercial drones – Parrot’s commercial drone unit recently signed a partnership deal with Agribotix, which provides drone-enabled technologies for agriculture.

→  Global nano drone industry 2017-2022 scrutinized in new research – (Purchase required) – Development policies and plans are discussed as well as manufacturing processes and cost structures. This report also states import/export, supply and consumption figures as well as cost, price, revenue and gross margin by regions (United States, EU, China and Japan), and other regions can be added.

→  Analyzing The Future of the Electric Drone Market – (Purchase required) – Market research firm IDTechEx recently released a report titled “Electric UAV Drones: Autonomous, Energy Independent 2017-2027”. This report discusses where the electrically powered UAV industry is headed over the next 10 years, and explains issues and technologies associated with these machines. According the report, the market value of UAV drones is expected to grow from 2.5 million in 2017 to 6.1 million by 2027, with exceptional growth for military and upper atmosphere uses.


Economic Development

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drone economic development

→  Groundbreaking arctic drone to test at Oregon’s UAS range – Prior to its scheduled launch in 2018, the ArcticShark—a groundbreaking new unmanned aerial system designed to collect the world’s most sophisticated atmospheric data in the Arctic—will undergo flight testing at Pendleton UAS Test Range starting today. To be owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility, a DOE national scientific user facility, the ArcticShark will eventually be equipped with more than a dozen different instruments designed to record the most sophisticated measurements ever gathered about Earth’s atmosphere and thus help scientists better understand one of the most sensitive regions of the planet.

→  Why central New York is emerging as a drone industry hub – The United States Army recently awarded a Syracuse-based research and development company a $65 million contract to create a system that would detect and defend against drones. But that demand goes beyond the company, SRC, and has facilitated itself in state funding for a corridor dedicated to the research and testing of drones that will stretch 15 miles from Syracuse to Rome. Gov. Andrew Cuomo allocated $35 million of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative funding toward the corridor and $230,000 toward six drone research projects at Syracuse University.

→  Business-class drones to take off – Commercial drone use is taking off, and soon more Spokane-area industries and businesses big and small are likely to see and hear what the buzz is about, some drone users here say.

Regulatory Action

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faa drone regulation

→  Drone Business Moving Forward With or Without Regulations – AirMap CEO Ben Marcus and Bloomberg’s Alan Levin discuss the regulation of drones and challenges facing the industry. They speak with Cory Johnson on “Bloomberg Technology.”

→  Drone companies fighting for regulation changes – Fed up with what they see as discrimination against their industry, companies that use drones in Canada are fighting to be allowed to fly their unmanned aircraft beyond the operator’s visual line of sight. At stake are millions of dollars in potential revenues for these operators — and the safety of Canada’s air space.

→  Let the drone industry take off – It has been nearly one year since India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued its draft drone guidelines. Given the criticality of these regulations in shaping a relatively young industry in India, several industry bodies and startups had provided feedback and pushed for timely action.

→  SAPD May Consider Regulation Of Drone Use In City Limits – The San Antonio Police Department could implement drones into its usage as the city begins to look at potential regulation in their use within the city limits.

 →  Hungary: New Drone Regulations – The new rules were in force as of 31 December 2016. However, most of the details are to be regulated in an upcoming government decree, and lawmakers are also expected to cover data protection aspects. For example, the Act does not differentiate between toy machines and heavier ones. Effective data protection regulations, according to this issue’s importance in the world, are still to come in Hungary.

Racing & Competition

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→  Drone racing league coming to Baltimore – Global Air Media, a Baltimore drone mapping and cinematography company, plans to launch a league for teams that will build and race the unmanned aerial vehicles. While open to adults, the Baltimore Drone Racing League is geared toward youth as a way to stoke their interest in the science and technology involved in building drones, and the potential careers available in the fast-growing field.

→  People are racing drones through neon-lit stadiums, free drone-racing sim lets you try it yourself – They make piloting look easy, but as far as I can tell from playing the free DRL training simulator, it isn’t. This 1GB demo features multiple courses, though you’ll have to create a (free) account to play.

→  DRA introduces drone competency course – Drone Racing Africa (DRA) will be launching a competency course for professionals and hobbyist who want to take full advantage of the emerging technology. DRA have designed a certificate course aimed at giving a complete beginner a sound knowledge and understanding of drone legislation and the physical competency to fly a drone.

→  Country’s first drone racing arena to open in Nottingham – The new Nottingham venture has already attracted the interest of iSeries – which currently holds drone racing competitions in Birmingham. iSeries is set to run its events from the new Iremonger Road base, which is just opposite the Notts County Football Club ground.

→  PEC team wins drone-making competition – Engineering students demonstrated their skills at assembling and operating unmanned aerial (UAVs) vehicles at Flytron at a two-day national-level competition on design and flying UAVs which concluded at the PECUniversity of Technology here today.As many as 10 teams from various colleges in the region participated in the event that included poster-making competition on evolving UAV concepts. Design and flying competition included involving obstacle negotiation, pre-defined circuit flying and load dropping.


Education & Training

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weekly drone publication

→  First & Only National Drone Training Program Pitched on Shark Tank – Dart Drones – The third entrepreneur into the Shark Tank this week presented her business DARTdrones and was seeking $300k in exchange for 10% of the business. She has developed the first national drone training school for both commercial drone pilots and hobbyists.

→  Lifeguards to drone pilots as class graduates from Australia’s first training school – Australia’s first drone pilot training school has opened in Port Macquarie, on the New South Wales mid-north coast, with lifeguards among the first to graduate.

→  Aircraft and pilots group brings drone pilots under its wing – The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has developed a new line of membership options for drone pilots. It’s part of a larger effort to unite manned and unmanned aircraft pilots and to promote safety as they share the same airspace.

→  UAVAIR launch Foundations of Aerial Mapping course – The course was developed based on industry experience from the construction, mining, mapping and inspection disciplines with hundreds of hours of collective flying time to ensure students are equipped with the knowledge and practical tools to improve RPAS operations and data processing techniques within their organisations.

→  IRISS Symposium – The IRISS symposium on drones will be a space of confluence, where researchers from across academia (social science, arts, law, business, engineering) along with local business and policy innovators to discuss the design, development, and deployment of remote and in-situ sensing systems. The IRISS Symposium will be held in ATLAS 100 on March 3-4, 2017. All events are free and open to the public. For a PDF of the event poster, click here. Keynote Speaker: Hugh Gusterson will give a keynote talk titled “Remote Killing: Drones, Democracy and War” on March 3, 2017 at 4pm in ATLAS 100.

Law Enforcement, Restriction & Threats

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weekly drone publication

→  Suspected carjacker surrenders after pursuit, lengthy standoff with police in Torrance – Redondo Beach police used a drone to get a better view of the suspect as officers stood from a distance with their weapons drawn. It was the first time the department has deployed a drone in a tactical situation since getting authorization to use the technology last year.

Man fined for starting a stampede at National Elk Refuge with drone – According to provided information, “the drone operator launched his equipment from a pullout along North Highway 89 and flew the UAS over a wintering herd of elk. The action created enough disruption to cause approximately 1,500 animals to bolt and run, dispersing the herd for nearly ½ mile. The animals, which had been resting along Flat Creek, scattered as far east as Miller Butte. In addition to creating a wildlife disturbance, the drone was not registered through the Federal Aviation Administration.” The fine for such a disturbance can reach up to $5,000 although this fine was reported at $268.00.

→  Man gets 30 days in jail for drone crash that knocked woman unconscious – The owner of an aerial photography business was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine after a drone he was operating crashed into people during a 2015 parade and knocked one woman unconscious. Paul Skinner, 38, was found guilty of reckless endangerment by Judge Willie Gregory of the Seattle Municipal Court. Gregory acknowledged that the collision was accidental, not intentional, but felt a punishment was in order, as Skinner had “engaged in conduct that put people in danger of being injured.”

→  Drone crashes through 27th-floor window – Police in New York City are looking for the owner of a drone that crashed through a window on a high-rise apartment building. NYPD officials say the drone crash occurred around 15:15. Saturday into a 27th-floor apartment in the Waterside Plaza tower overlooking the East River in Manhattan’s Kips Bay section.


FAA Action & Reaction to FAA

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→  FAA Releases Updated Drone Sighting Reports – Although the data contain several reports of pilots claiming drone strikes on their aircraft, to date the FAA has not verified any collision between a civil aircraft and a civil drone. Every investigation has found the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other items such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft.

→  Worcester drone firm receives FAA Logan clearance – Alpinax Drone Services of Worcester said Thursday it has received FAA clearance to fly within eight miles of Logan International Airport in Boston. Alpinax called the step rare because of the confined and congested airspace around Logan. It is one of the first legal operators in the area to get such clearance, it said.

→  FAA report shows pilots are seeing more drones – A new report from the FAA confirms that while more drones are being spotted by pilots of other aircraft, there have not yet been any collisions with planes or helicopters. If this trend continues, it could present issues down the road as enterprise drone usage grows, especially once logistics providers try to launch drone delivery services.

→  FAA releases clean safety report on civilian drone encounters – Drone Manufacturer Alliance data also shows the number of “possible drone sightings” growing at a much slower rate in recent months since the rules took effect. The FAA expects the number of drones used for personal and professional purposes “will double” in 2017.

→  Analysis from the Second Meeting of the FAA Drone Advisory Committee – During the meeting two task groups were created, TG1 and TG2 with the mandate to analyze “Roles and Responsibilities” and “Technological and Regulatory”, respectively. These groups met separately, under the leadership of Victoria B. Wassmer, FAA Deputy Administrator, and presented a series of recommendations to the FAA on how to move forward on their respective tasks.

Congress & Legislative Action

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weekly drone publication tracks the United States Congress and helps Americans understand what is going on in their national legislature. Click here for a list of drone legislation.

→  Drone privacy bills land in Salem – Rep. John Huffman, a Republican from The Dalles, introduced House Bill 3049 and House Bill 3048, both of which prohibit flying drones over people or property without consent. Both bills would exempt law enforcement and would set $1,000 fines. Drones would not be allowed to fly within 50 feet of people without consent. They would also not be able to hover for more than 60 seconds over property. The bills were introduced Feb. 27 and are awaiting a committee referral. This year, he has a new bill related to this issue, House Bill 3047, which offers an exemption to the previous rule. A drone operator would be exempt if the operator notifies authorities five days in advance if the projectile is not a bullet. The new bill also notes that firing projectiles from a drone can’t be used for crowd management.

→  NM panel advances bill aimed at regulating drones – A proposal to ban drones from flying within 500 feet of power plants and refineries in New Mexico has cleared its first hurdle. With making any recommendation, the Senate Public Affairs Committee advanced the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Greg Baca of Belen to its next committee.

→  West Virginia Senate Votes to Limit Warrantless Drone Surveillance – Sen. Charles Trump (R-Berkeley Springs) introduced Senate Bill 9 (SB9) on Feb. 8. The legislation would require law enforcement agencies to get a warrant before conducting surveillance, gathering evidence or collecting information on targeted persons or specifically targeted private property. SB9 includes provisions limiting retention of data gathered by drones.

→  Kentucky House Votes 99-0 to Limit Warrantless Drone Surveillance – A Kentucky bill that would require police to get a warrant before engaging in drone surveillance in most situations unanimously passed the House last week. Rep. Diane St. Onge (R-Lakeside Park), Rep. Reginald Meeks (D-Louisville) and Rep. Sal Santoro (R-Florence) introduced House Bill 291 (HB291) on Feb. 10. The legislation would require a judicial warrant specifically naming the targeted individual before police could use a drone for surveillance in most situations. The proposed law would allow warrantless use of a drone when “exigent circumstances” exist. The House approved HB291 by a 99-0 vote.

International Developments

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international drone market

→  Here’s how the international community stops drones from crashing into aircraft – According to IATA, 65 countries currently have rules for the use of small drones. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is trying to establish a global framework for the future use of drones. But for now, the body is simply helping out governments in countries where regulation is slow in coming.

→  Japan wants to set international drone standards – Japan is set to take the initiative in proposing international standards for drones. The hope is that its proposed standards can win approval around fiscal 2025 — and help Japanese companies take market share.

→  Controversy Swirls After Video Of Tigers Taking Out Drone Goes Viral – New footage of tigers chasing a drone in China has many flying high with excitement, but the backstory will bring viewer enthusiasm back down to the ground. The tiger park, in China’s Heilongjiang province, is home to hundreds of big cats — and even bigger controversy about how they’re kept. The report also implicated the park as less of a big cat sanctuary and more of a “tiger farm.” It notes the cats are raised and harvested for their bones, which are then used in traditional Chinese medicine to make wine.


Person in Drone Nation

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gene robinson rp flight systemsGene Robinson

•  Founder of RP Flight Systems, Inc.
•  Vice President/Director of Flight Operations, Drone Pilot, Inc.
•  Recipient of the Spectra Humanitarian UA Award
•  Author – First to Deploy, Unmanned Aircraft for SAR & Law Enforcement

“Drones for Public Safety only has one name, Gene Robinson. You won’t find him on the cover of Forbes because he’s been flying RC aircraft for search and rescue under RP Search Services as a non-profit since 2008. Gene has been to 30 states, five countries, and credited for 13 rescues or recoveries using RC aircraft. For public safety, he is known as the grandfather of UA SAR.”


Gene Robinson founded RP Flight Systems, Inc., the manufacturer of the Spectra flying wing, in 2004. In February 2015, Gene partnered with Asiatech Drones, to produce and sell the Vigilent fixed wing unmanned system.

From coast-to-coast, in 39 states and internationally in four countries, Gene has assisted law enforcement and Texas EquuSearch in SAR and other support missions flying the Spectra. In 2012, Gene authored First to Deploy the first “how-to” book on using UAS during SAR and natural disasters. He travels the nation as a leading expert on using UAS in the national air space. He authored Obstacles to Using UA in the NAS and co-authored Memorial Day Floods, 2015, Wimberley, Texas, White Papers utilized by Texas Department of Public Safety, the Wimberley and the Austin Fire Departments among other agencies.

Gene also formed RP Search Services, a non-profit 501 c3 in 2007 to bring UAS into the public service roles of search and rescue, fire-fighting and public safety support. In 2005, following the first search and recovery effort utilizing a UAS, Gene recognized the value of this unmanned technology and committed the next 12 years to bring this tool to the public service community.

Gene currently serves as the Chief Pilot for the Wimberley Fire Department and provides mutual UAS aid to surrounding agencies and Hays County. Gene is currently in the process of producing a full fledged training program with his law enforcement partners that focuses on piloting proficiency and operations in a public safety environment.



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 Drones take business intelligence notches higher – In the aftermath of Cyclone Vardah, a leading insurance company in Chennai decided to go for an unusual method to vet some damage claims for insurance by an information technology park near the city’s coast.

→  GLOBAL DRONES FOR INSURANCE MARKET 2017 – Global Drones for Insurance Market Report 2017 offers comprehensive research study on the current scenario of the Drones for Insurance market globally, offering a primary overview of Drones for Insurance market, consisting of definitions, classifications, a range of applications and Drones for Insurance industry chain structure.


Legal Information

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weekly drone publication

→  The Legal Landscape for Drones in the UAE – This post explores the applicable federal and emirate-specific regulations, as well as the various concerns surrounding the use of drones (for commercial, government and consumer purposes).

→  Illinois Drone Laws (2017)

Media Use

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weekly drone publication

→  Filming with drones could be restricted. Journalists oppose –  The state intends to impose restrictions on filming with the drone, including those used in the journalistic investigation, on the grounds that it would interfere with flight safety. Journalists believe that in fact, it is a new invention of the authorities to protect corrupt officials.

→  Autonomous drones fly into TV – Researchers at the recent autonomous drone competition at UWE are set to be part of a TV documentary on the Discovery Channel. The MAAXX Europe event saw university research teams, companies and enthusiasts competing to get their drones to fly on their own around a course at the Exhibition Centre at the University of the West of England.

→  SciFi Short Film Project Shows How Amazon’s Drones Will Destroy Us All – Skywatch, a short film nearing its fundraising goal on Kickstarter, is all about what would happen if drones really were the industry standing for shipping items across the country. And the answer is… an evil corporation will try to kill you. The film, which stars Uriah Shelton from Girl Meets World and Zach Callison from Steven Universe, is about two hackers who uncover a massive corporate conspiracy while messing with some delivery drones.


Operational Research & Development

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weekly drone publication

→  Cloud-Seeding UAS Completes 1 Hour BVLOS Flight in Nevada – The UAS reached 1,500 feet and covered 28 nautical miles, making this the longest unmanned cross-country round-trip flight in Nevada history, according to a news release. The drone was flown at Hawthorne Industrial Airport under Nevada UAS Test Site’s Certificate of Authorization (COA) and led by the Desert Research Institute (DRI) flight operations node. Unmanned aerial data services provider AviSight is also part of the research team.

→  How drones are helping design the solar power plants of the future – A cottage industry is growing around new technology for solar power developers to design, build and operate solar farms to help compete with fossil fuel power.

→  Washington State Professor Finds Sky-high Opportunities for Drones in Agriculture – Dr. Lav Khot is involved with several projects that delve into how drones can help with many aspects of Washington’s diverse agriculture industry—from grapes, apples and cherries to winter wheat, potatoes, pinto beans and more. One of the most prominent ways in which drones are used in agriculture is for thermal imaging. Multi-spectral sensors mounted on a drone can give users like Khot a good picture of how crops, specifically crop canopies, fare under different growing practices. Two of the projects in which Khot is involved look at how crops react to different irrigation techniques.

→  Could Tiny Drones Replace Honeybees? – The ever-dwindling population of honeybees in North America and Europe is not a new problem. With a few rare blips on the survival tracking charts, nearly 45 percent of honeybee colonies still die annually. A group of Japanese scientists, however, believe a tiny drone could become a solution to the pollination deficit caused by the decline in the bee populations, if they can control the drones, of course.

→  SF Drone School Research Center Opens On Treasure Island to build out a repeatable validation process for testing and evaluating different systems, sub-systems, ancillary drone-related products and software. “We are literally just trying to separate the fact from the fiction here.”


Privacy, Safety & Security

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→  City pursues grant funding for public safety drone – Bowling Green City Commissioners voted Tuesday to allow city staff to apply for grant funding from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation for $20,917 to buy an unmanned aerial vehicle package to improve fire department services.

→  National Public Safety Drone Conference wraps in Albemarle County – The first National Public Safety UAS Conference wrapped on Wednesday after taking place in Albemarle County. Hosted by Piedmont Virginia Community College and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the conference centered around public safety officials and advancing their use of Unmanned Aerial Systems.

→  Enabling the Safe Adoption of Drone Technology into the Inspection Industry – We’ve laid out why standards will be critical to UAV adoption, but I wanted to further discuss the issues around regulation and benchmarks that Harrison mentioned in his piece. Below you’ll find the answers to every single question I threw out to him which explore regulatory challenges, where guidelines should stem from, what kind of benefits can come from a focus on creating standards and much more.



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Innovative Products

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→  DJI’s new drone can fly in rain or snow – DJI announced the Matrice 200, an all-weather unit that can carry up to three cameras at once and packs a wealth of sensors that allow it to capture navigate with centimeter lever precision.

→  Review: DJI Mavic, the pro-grade camera drone that fits in your pocket – If you’d have told me last year I could have an aerial camera drone with all the functionality of the Phantom 4, but that could fold up and fit in my pocket, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet, here we are.

→  DroneSimPro – $29.99 – Dronethusiast’s #1 choice for training – A Drone Flight Simulator is a great choice when you’re considering investing hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a new UAV quadcopter. Multirotor drones can be very expensive and it’s smart to get some practice using a much less expensive method, a UAV simulator, before unpacking your new drone.


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UAS Digest #77"

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