UAV & Drone News

UAS, UAV, Drones  and the entire unmanned industry are a rapidly evolving field, so it’s important to stay up on the news.

Autonomous Flight – Drone Term of the Week

What is an autonomous flight?

Aren’t all drones autonomous?  Well, no.

Some UAVs are controlled not by a human sending radio signals but by internal programming that tells it where to fly. For example, a UAV may use its on-board GPS system to fly from one predetermined point to another.

We offer certification courses so that you can operate your UAV or drone legally for work or recreation. Join us!

The Drone Term of the Week – Do You Know Them All?

By |2020-02-20T00:40:01+00:00February 20th, 2020|Drone News, Drone term of the week|0 Comments

Police Use Drone to Save Blind Man in Connecticut Forest

This is a stunning drones for good story – yet another example of drones saving lives.  Drones are undeniably an incomparable tool for search and rescue missions.  Not only can they cover maximum area quickly, when equipped with thermal imaging payloads drones can continue a search through the nighttime hours.

In this latest example, a 62 -year old blind man who was reported missing was located in the woods by a police drone on Saturday after having been missing for about 33 hours. The Enfield, Connecticut police department posted a statement about the event as well as a drone video of recuers making their way to the man on Facebook.

On 2/15/20, the missing man’s brother contacted the police department after he had been missing for more than 24 hours.  Based on previous information, the family feared that the man had wandered from his home and become disoriented – a dangerous situation in a New England winter.  “Due to the temperature, there was concern about hypothermia and it was clear that time was of the essence for a successful outcome,” said the Enfield Police statement.  “Vernon CT Police Department was contacted for assistance and a drone pilot from Vernon PD responded from home to assist.”

That drone was instrumental in the rescue.  “After approximately 30 minutes of searching, the male party was located by the Vernon Officer via drone approximately 100 yards into the woods, down an embankment, hidden from view,” said the statement.

The victim had been outside for approximately 33 hours, surviving overnight temps of 9 degrees Fahrenheit.  After he had been located by the drone, the man was reached by community emergency services personnel and carried out of the area to be evaluated at a local hospital.  “The Enfield Police Department is extremely grateful for the support of the Vernon, CT Police Department, Enfield Fire Department, Thompsonville Fire Department, Enfield EMS and Enfield Housing Authority to bring this event to a successful resolution,” says the Enfield Police statement.

By |2020-02-20T08:20:52+00:00February 19th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

The Deep Dive into Remote ID for Drones: What It Is, What it Means, and What’s Next

image public domain

We’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments about Remote ID for Drones – and with good reason.  This regulation is important: it has the potential to impact all drone operations in the country.  It’s also technical, and challenging to understand.

This guest post is a longer read – a dive into the topic that provides definitions of the terms and an overview of the work that has gone into the development of the NPRM.  It addresses points like cyber security, law enforcement needs, and the development of global standards.  The post is written by Amit Ganjoo, Founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies, a service provider deeply involved in developing and testing UTM technologies for the last several years.  The post provides Amit’s perspective and opinions on the technology and the NPRM – Amit calls the NPRM is good starting point – but is not designed to come to an absolute conclusion about Remote ID.  Rather, the purpose of this post is to provide the reader with more information and background about the FAA’s Remote ID NPRM.   With opinions and points taken from other drone publications and organizations, we hope that this post helps add to the collective drone industry understanding of Remote ID for drones as part of the effort to integrate drones safely into the airspace.

The following is a guest post by Amit Ganjoo, Founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies, an international UTM platform provider.

Over the past few weeks I’ve read numerous articles and posts by industry representatives and journalists commenting on the recent Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for the draft Remote ID regulation from the FAA – I feel compelled to share my thoughts. My perspective is based on my involvement in this space since 2015, having come from a communications and aviation background, and intimately involved in ASTM International standards for Remote ID and while leading its UAS Traffic Management (UTM) working group.

Regrettably there are few posts that remain objective, with most promoting an approach that furthers their own business interests.  Equally disheartening is the limited acknowledgment of ongoing work with industry led consensus standards, research, demonstrations and evaluations over the past few years. I’d like to speak as somebody that wishes to advance the industry and not just my own business.

Even though the RID NPRM is imperfect, it still provides a starting point. We need to pragmatically evaluate its intended security and safety concerns.  I firmly believe there is no single magic bullet for Remote Identification that meets every requirement, nor should we expect the first draft of the regulation to provide that bullet.

A couple of things to bear in mind as you read this article. There are some areas I’m not addressing in this article like the commercial implications and detailed analysis about impacts on recreational users. There is already sufficient material published for those topics, so let me begin by laying a foundation about remote ID.

Remote ID Basics

Remote ID allows governmental and civil identification of UAS for safety, security, and compliance purposes. The objective is to increase UAS Remote Pilot accountability by removing anonymity while preserving operational privacy for remote pilots, businesses, and their customers.

In Europe, Remote Identification is a component of “Electronic Conspicuity.” Electronic Conspicuity (EC) is an umbrella term for range of technologies that in their most basic form, transmit the position of the host aircraft to other airspace users operating compatible equipment. More advanced devices can transmit and receive the drone’s position, displaying and alerting pilots to air traffic conflicts with compatible EC devices. EC devices modify the traditional aviation method for pilots to see and avoid other aircraft, into be seen and avoid.

In the United States, the FAA defines Remote ID as the ability of a UAS in flight to provide identification and location information that other parties can receive. It also establishes the foundation for information sharing for future operational concepts such as beyond visual line of site (BVLOS) operations and addresses safety and security concerns which will be become more significant when expanded UAS operations become a reality.

NPRM Summary

Before we get into all these details let’s step back and summarize the Remote ID NPRM.

The NPRM primarily focuses at providing a new capability for law enforcement.  This makes sense, because remote identification is not really necessary for cooperative, or “good actors.” However, it does provide law enforcement a tool to ID the drone and locate its operator. The NPRM does not impact drones weighing less than 0.55 pounds.

The draft rule does affect drone manufacturers that will need to add Remote ID hardware to support this new capability, likely resulting in increased costs and therefore opposed.

There are two kinds of remote identification mechanisms referenced in the NPRM, Network and Broadcast.  It’s important to understand the key distinction between these two options.

Broadcast Remote ID is based on the transmission of radio signals directly from an airborne UAS to ground receivers in the UAS’s vicinity. Network Remote ID is based on communication via the internet from a Remote ID service provider that interfaces with the UAS, or with other sources in the case of Non-Equipped Network Participants.  Basically, the drone is communicating with something that provides remote identification information to the internet.

Going a little deeper, the NPRM requires a specialized wireless broadcast or network data exchange containing information message elements that require:

  • The identity of the UAS consisting of one of the following:
    • The serial number assigned to the unmanned aircraft by the producer or,
    • Session ID assigned by a Remote ID USS.
  • An indication of the latitude and longitude of the control station and unmanned aircraft.
  • An indication of the barometric pressure altitude of the control station and unmanned aircraft.
  • A Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) time mark.
  • An indication of the emergency status of the UAS, which could include lost-link or downed aircraft.

Additionally, the NPRM also states, “..the FAA anticipates that the message elements related to any standard remote identification UAS or limited remote identification UAS are publicly available information and may be accessed by any person able to receive a broadcast or who has access to a Remote ID USS.”

This public access is similar to the FAA’s recent initiative called Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC).  While some of the data is publicly available, there are some elements that are not shared to ensure some level of privacy.

The NPRM states three different categories or deployment classes: Standard, Limited, and Without. In the first two cases it is expected that both the drone and controller locations will be shared as part of the Remote ID capability.  It is important to understand the differences between the three classes.

Standard Remote Identification UAS

In this case the drone or ground control station (GCS) transmits remote ID information to the network via a new concept called Remote ID USS provider. If no network is available, the drone needs to be capable of broadcasting information using its onboard Bluetooth or Wi-Fi module.

There are no operating restrictions so these drones could fly visual line of sight (VLOS) or beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

Limited Remote Identification UAS

In this case the drones are assumed to be operating visual line of site (VLOS) up to 400 feet from the controller. The assumption is that the drone or the GCS can transmit the Remote ID information over the Internet to a Remote ID USS provider. However, there is no requirement to support Broadcast capability in case the network is unavailable. Hence, there is no need for any specific drone manufacturer equipment or retrofitted hardware on the drone. This means that you can fly in this category only when you have a network connection, which might be very limiting and there are plenty of areas in US where we will not have any cellular network coverage.

UAS without Remote Identification

The last class are those UAS without any means of remote identification capability. All recreational users are in this category. In this case, the users are restricted to fly in FAA recognized identification areas (FRIA) and they must just operate in those predefined areas similar to an accredited RC field for community club users.  There are additional nuances in this category that would benefit from more discussion beyond the scope of this article.

Self-Test – No Compliance No Takeoff

One of the challenging requirements in the NPRM is the self-test capability.  A drone that is not equipped with a functioning Remote ID capability will not be permitted to take off. There is an additional requirement that the RID capability should be tamper resistant, resulting in deeper integration with the drone manufacturer hardware.

Under this NPRM, flying a drone is not as simple as buying it and launching into the air. This draft rule will require the drone to be configured with a special software and hardware before the will be compliant to fly.

I agree with the analysis and summary provided by retired Major General James Poss, wrote in his post on Inside Unmanned Systems.

“Manufacturers must make RID integral to the drone’s flight system. If the RID fails during the drone’s start-up check, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) won’t take off. Manufacturers must also make RID “tamper resistant” and provide cybersecurity to stop unsophisticated operators from changing their RID settings. Big battle here also—manufacturers had wanted to make RID compliance solely the responsibility of the remote pilot and not themselves. That said, this mandate might change the drone market profoundly. DJI definitely has the cash to comply and provide the paperwork saying they comply because they make thousands of drones. Compliance paperwork alone could cost tens of thousands of dollars for each type of drone manufactured. Can Hollywood camera drone companies afford that when making a dozen or so drones for a particular movie camera?

A good compromise is to certify RID modules separately from the unmanned aircraft. That way, a handful of secure RID module manufacturers can go through the pain of compliance and UAV would be compliant with the RID module on board”.

Law Enforcement Perspective

Chris Korody from Drone Business Center has done excellent job capturing the Law Enforcement perspective in his writeups. The key observation is there’s more work required to make the NPRM useful for Law Enforcement since the whole aspect of integration into the current operational workflow has been overlooked.  Below are some of the key highlights from Chris’s writeup

“The NPRM leaves the LEO holding up their cell phone with very little of the information they are used to having. Today, when an officer gets out of their patrol car, he or she has already run the plate and the registered owner. This is a time-tested approach for ensuring officer safety.

Yet there is nothing in the NPRM about how RID data will be integrated with the rest of the data that LE routinely uses. This is a critical point because LEOs are trained to use biographical information about the person they have in front of them. And because things happen fast, their safety depends on having it available in real-time.

Each query requires personally identifiable information (PII) such as date of birth (DOB) and/or Social Security Number (SSN). Information that the proposed S# database does not collect. Nor does the current pilot license program.

No one is saying it, but RID will be a whole new database that will have to be built, managed, maintained, updated, supported, routinely audited and paid for. As best as I can tell from the NPRM, the FAA seems to expect the RID USS to foot the bill.

This database will also have to be integrated with the pilot license database. Remember the analogy – vehicle plate, driver’s license.

From the LE perspective, the most useful information that the FAA has is the data used by TSA. Ideally, when the knowledge test is finally published, the recreational pilot’s license database will be integrated with Part 107.

And lest we think the problem is solved just by recognizing it, another major hurdle exists – access to the information. For any organization to get access to the FBI’s NCIC information, they must be able to adhere to CJIS compliance policies and regulations – which are stringent and burdensome, as well as NLETS.”

Where are we with Standards?

ASTM International recently published F3411 – 19 (Standard Specification for Remote ID and Tracking) which covers the performance requirements for remote identification of UAS.  Here are the highlights of the standard we worked on in conjunction with numerous industry partners, government and academia.  You’ll see many similarities to the NPRM.

Courtesy: ASTM International

Broadcast Remote ID

Broadcast Remote ID equipment on participating UAS requires equipment to continuously transmit Remote ID data using one of the transmit protocols for Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It’s possible that additional transmit protocols may be added in the future as warranted by available technology. The initial technologies were selected for compatibility with commonly carried hand-held mobile devices that have their own receiver antenna, like cell phones. However, equipment to receive the broadcast data is not part of the standard. Other implementations, such as receivers not integrated with hand-held devices, are possible. 

Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi continuously broadcast messages to advertise the presence of the associated device. These advertisements normally allow other devices to discover and establish connections with the associated device, but the advertisements themselves can carry a payload. These advertisements contain the broadcast Remote ID data. A hand-held device does not need to establish a connection to receive Remote ID data, instead it need only receive and process the advertisements.

Broadcast Remote ID can be used anywhere but it is critical in areas where network coverage is unreliable, disrupted, or not available.

The standard also includes a range of options for authentication of broadcast data. Some of those options include digital signatures over portions or all of the Remote ID message set. While the standard does not specify the encoding format associated with signatures, it does include a standard API that would be used by a receiver of the broadcast data (e.g., an app on a smartphone) to contact a verifier with the signature data for a broadcast to determine message validity.

Network Based Remote ID 

Network Remote ID can be used when both UAS operations and end users of Remote ID display applications access the internet, typically via cellular network. Cellular coverage tends to be higher in urban areas.

The nominal case supports Networked UAS (i.e., UAS that remain in contact with a Remote ID Service Provider during flight), although the standard accommodates intermittent loss of network connectivity.

Support for Recreational Users and Hobbyists

Network Remote ID also includes provisions for participation in Remote ID by non-equipped UAS (i.e., UAS that are neither broadcast capable nor equipped to communicate with a Remote ID Service Provider during flight, such as most radio-controlled model aircraft). These non-equipped network participants report their operations (e.g., aircraft ID, location in terms of a volume of airspace, operating times) in advance. The information is used to create a position report for use by Remote ID display applications where the uncertainty of the position report is defined by the airspace volume for the operation. The current telemetry of the aircraft within the volume is not known and cannot be displayed to a Remote ID end user, but the display application can display the volume and provide the identity of the UAS.

Did you forget about Security and Cyber Threats?

A common theme between drones and other Internet of Things (IoT) enabled services is that they will all leverage and rely on commercial wireless broadband solutions for either command and control (C2) or real time sensor data management and transfer. These next generation networks will have to support a highly diverse range of new applications, user requirements, and connected devices, sensors, robotics, mission critical wireless communication, and automated manned and unmanned vehicle systems.

The only way all this can become a reality is by continuing to evolve existing wireless technologies, cellular and non-cellular and also work on new licensed or unlicensed radio access technologies. These next generation networks will be heterogeneous networks using a myriad of wireless technologies.

Even though these technologies will evolve to support the throughput and latency requirements for safe drone operations, one of the key challenges we will face is agile, reliable, safe and secure support for different use cases and user requirements. We as the industry need to consider all key technical areas and explore ways of integrating “security by design” principles into commercial drone ecosystem development.

We will need new service delivery models that involve new actors in the ecosystem. Virtualization and cloud infrastructures will be leveraged to provide flexibility, scalability and the ability to deliver richer services quickly. Data access wireless networks will need to provide users and other third parties access via APIs to for granular control and security of the services. This paradigm shift will enable innovative capabilities but also create complex security challenges.

Communication between various nodes for a Remote ID solution will need to be encrypted using an industry-standard encryption mechanism with a minimum encryption strength of 128 bits. This requirement is intended to address both integrity and confidentiality of Remote ID data in transit. TLS is an example of an industry-standard authenticated encryption mechanism. 

Standards Vs NPRM? 

The table below outlines the current state of comparison between the NPRM, ASTM standards and field demonstrations.

Capability NPRM ASTM Standards Demonstrated
Broadcast Capability                 √                 √                 √
Network Capability                 √                 √                 √
Controller Location                 √                 X                X
Hobbyist Support                 √                 √                 √

What is practical and What is Really Needed?

In May of 2019, ANRA was the first UAS Service Supplier (USS) to use the proposed at that time ASTM standard WK65041 (Remote ID and Tracking) for both broadcast and network methods and conduct real-world operational evaluations along with law enforcement officials at the FAA test site in New York.

Part of the assessment included multiple USS at the test site using UAS traffic management (UTM) software to manage drone operations while also serving as the network RID service and display provider.

Additionally, network publishing was evaluated to visualize data within an internet-based service area. In this case, the Display App made a request to network RID display provider which had aggregated RID data for all flights in the area managed by network RID service providers and provided the aggregated data back to the Display App.

While I’m proud our company achieved this milestone, my true motivation was to prove the standards (draft at the time) were realistic and could be operational assessed.  We did, it worked, and we learned some lessons – most importantly from law enforcement.

We knew we needed to conduct more testing in a collaborative environment, so later in 2019, ANRA Technologies, along with other Industry Partners as well as regulators successfully demonstrated the versatility of ASTM standard. The team of industry players simulated three common scenarios on September 12th 2019 within controlled airspace for San Francisco International Airport and demonstrated the benefits of network based remote ID based on the proposed ASTM standard.

This event was followed by a similar demonstration in Bern, Switzerland on September 16th which included both network and broadcast based Remote ID. This all work happened in collaboration with the Swiss U-Space Implementation (SUSI) team, Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), and Skyguide, the Swiss Air Navigation Service Provider.

What’s Next?

Even though these tests were successful, there are subtle differences between the NPRM and the standard as captured previously, it still proves that both network and broadcast based remote identification have their place and can meet the requirements outlined in the NPRM with some tweaks and additional security measures put in place to ensure the safety and security of the operators as well as the airspace. We have to keep in mind that a bad actor will fly a drone no matter what and but it’s rules and regulations if too onerous are going to hamper the commercial industry by impacting the good actors.

It is also prudent to allow operators to choose between network and broadcast based remote identification capabilities based on the operational areas as well as the use cases such as VLOS vs BVLOS operations.

The NPRM should be modified to allow message elements to permit both encrypted and not encrypted elements. For example, information such as drone operator location and be only available to specialized apps that have the correct access and privilege to decrypt that information.

This would be on the similar lines like when you get pulled over by a cop and they can run your license plate and get all the details whereas concerned citizen can only see the license plate and not necessarily access all the details associated with the car or its owner.

Summary

  • FAA NPRM is not all bad – it can be used as a great starting point
  • Both Network and Broadcast based Remote Id capabilities are required depending on the Use Case.
  • Security concerns about disclosing the location of the operator can be mitigated by using encryption mechanisms to ensure that those message elements are only available to authorized users.
  • The ASTM standard already supports security an encryption recommendations and methodologies, see “Annex A1 – Broadcast Authentication Verifier Service.”
  • FAA should seriously think about eliminating the requirement for having the hardware root of trust it is reasonable to expect a hardware broadcast solution on board the drones but having it enforce no take off would require deep integrations with the OEMs in the hardware which adds cost and complexity which is not desirable.
  • Limited Remote Identification UAS needs to support Broadcast Remote ID mechanism as well
  • There is a need to integrate the FAA databases with other law enforcement databases.

Amit Ganjoo is a serial entrepreneur and currently the Founder and CEO ANRA Technologies, an Award Winning Drone Operations and UAS Traffic Managment (UTM) Platform provider based in Washington DC whose Platform DroneOSS™ is used by multiple commercial and government entities for running and managing commercial drone operations.  Amit has over 20 years of aviation, telecom and wireless experience in both the federal and the commercial space. He is an engineer, a licensed pilot, following a lifelong passion in aviation and builds experimental aircrafts.  Amit is an adjunct professor at the George Mason University and shares his passion for engineering by teaching in the School of Engineering and volunteers at a local Maker Space in the D.C. area.

By |2020-02-20T08:21:12+00:00February 19th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Commercial UAV Expo Americas is Already Shaping Up to be a Can’t Miss Event in 2020

While Commercial UAV Expo Americas has been growing steadily for the last 5 years, 2019 felt like a breakthrough event for the show, which saw record numbers in attendees and sponsors and a high profile lineup of keynotes nad presenters.  If 2019 was a great show, however, 2020 is shaping up to be even better.  Commercial UAV Expo has become a major event for the industry, as evidenced by massive early support.  With conference content that has steadily evolved with the industry to keep up the value, and a vertical focus which helps vendors and customers connect easily, Commercial UAV Expo continues to be the one you can’t miss.

More than 75 exhibitors have committed, representing a huge variety of solutions including major names like AeroVironment, Autel, FLIR, Skydio, Skyward Verizon, and more.  The list of supporting media partnerships, government agencies, industry analysts, and user groups and associations is a who’s who of the drone industry.  We’re excited for the show next fall – and we’ll see you there!

The following is taken from a Commercial UAV Expo Americas press release.

Best-in-class UAS solutions providers and partnering organizations have confirmed their support
for the 2020 edition of CUAVE Americas

PORTLAND, MAINE – USA, February 19, 2020 – Organizers of the 6th annual Commercial UAV Expo Americas, the leading commercial drone trade show and conference in North America, have announced an impressive list of hundreds of supporters for the 2020 event, which will take place September 15-17, 2020 at Paris Las Vegas, Las Vegas NV.

Hundreds of exhibitors, associations and media companies have already signed on to participate in Commercial UAV Expo Americas 2020.  “Industry leaders have clearly cast their votes for Commercial UAV Expo Americas in 2020,” said Lisa Murray, Group Director at Diversified Communications, organizer of the event. “With more than half the exhibit floor already sold and over 200 media and association supporters signed on, Commercial UAV Expo Americas has firmly established itself as the leading event serving professionals integrating and operating commercial sUAS.”

The 2019 edition of Commercial UAV Expo Americas drew in 3,100 attendees, 200+ exhibitors, and 200+ presenters from over 50 countries. The full list of supporters and attendees who took part in the previous event can be found here. More are expected in 2020, and the addition of some special features are likely to draw in new categories of UAS professionals:

  • New this year, the UAM Summit, organized by Amsterdam Drone week, will be a platform for knowledge-sharing and a top-level meeting point where key players gather to co-create and co-operate to create urban air solutions together.
  • Also new in 2020 will be the first-ever Law Tech Connect workshop organized by P3 Tech Consulting. Law-Tech Connect is a continuing legal education (CLE) program focused on U.S. and global legal, regulatory, policy, and ethical issues related to advanced technologies, with an emphasis on the UAS market.
  • Returning in 2020 will be the DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Summit. Two full days of programming brings together drone operators and program managers across law enforcement, fire, search & rescue, and other emergency services for strategic discussions and workshops surrounding the evolving use of unmanned aircraft systems.

Full event information, including workshops, conference programming, networking events and more will be available soon.

Registration for the 2020 event will open in March, 2020.

About Commercial UAV Expo Americas

Commercial UAV Expo Americas, presented by Commercial UAV News, is an international conference and expo exclusively focused on commercial UAS integration and operation covering industries including Construction; Energy & Utilities; Forestry & Agriculture; Infrastructure & Transportation; Mining & Aggregates; Public Safety & Emergency Services; Security; and Surveying & Mapping. It takes place September 15-17, 2020 at the Paris Las Vegas. For more information, visit www.expouav.com.

Commercial UAV Expo Americas is produced by Diversified Communications’ technology portfolio which also includes Commercial UAV Expo Europe, Commercial UAV News, Digital Construction  Week, GEO Business Show, International Lidar Technology Forum, SPAR 3D Expo & Conference, SPAR 3D.com, AECNext Technology Expo & Conference and AEC Next News. For information about exhibiting at Commercial UAV Expo contact Katherine Dow, Sales Manager, at [email protected] or +1.207-842-5497. For attending information, visit www.expouav.com or email [email protected]

By |2020-02-20T08:21:17+00:00February 19th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

The Newest Gremsy Gimbal: the T3V3

The Gremsy T3V3: HDMI quick release, stronger motor, and more.

Vietnam-based Gremsy, manufacturers of quality gimbals for the professional market,  announce their latest gimbal version today.  Designed for widespread use, the Gremsy T3 is already one of the most popular gimbals used in inspections, mapping, and other commercial applications. It supports a wide range of cameras and massive payloads.

“From now on, every mission should be a cinch,” says Gremsy.  “With the latest version, we’ve simplified even more, with some fine-tuning for easier setup and use –  making the T3 a flawless version to satisfy the most demanding users.” 

WHAT’S NEW?

With all the best features of the previous version, the new T3 offers even more advanced features that commercial users require. The performance of the product is significantly improved to meet the stricter flight requirements.  But even with improved functionality and better motor power, the new gimbal still has a compact size: weighing 2.65 lbs for a maximum payload of 3.7 lbs. 

What makes T3V3 a compelling option is the onboard HDMI and AUX ports on the gimbal, which allow clean and more straightforward setup as well as ensuring convenient operation of gimbal without dangling cables. Through the built-in 14.5V Power Regulator in Hyper Quick Release, the new T3 performs better than ever with up to 20% stronger motor power. (Notice for users:  T3V3 provides 14.5 V output (2A max) to power camera and accessories instead of 12V output as the previous version.)

Plug & play installation is even easier: and built-in Bluetooth functionality helps users conveniently control the gimbal via smartphone, tablet, or other suitable devices. T3V3 is still compatible with Pixhawk FC to support its autonomous flight inspection system. It can be controlled via Lightbridge 2 when using A3/N3 FC, and be used with multiple RC such as SBUS, PPM, or SPECTRUM. 

With Gremsy T3, adapting to various aerial missions has never been so fast and straightforward.  You can find additional information about the Gremsy T3 HERE

By |2020-02-19T08:18:36+00:00February 18th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Parrot Wins Swiss Army Micro-Drone Contract

French drone manufacturer Parrot has been selected by the Swiss Armed Forces to develop and supply micro-drones as part of the Swiss Mini UAV Program (Swiss MUAS). Parrot successfully won the contract against several commercial UAV suppliers.

Last year, the French manufacturer was chosen by the DoD for the U.S Army’s Recon Drone Program, in a move that highlighted Parrot’s ambitions beyond its struggles in the consumer market.

According to Parrot, the performance of its defence and security solutions and the high level of cybersecurity required by the Swiss armed forces were contributing aspects to the final decision. Parrot has plenty of history in the country, including the purchase of two École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne spin-offs, Pix4D and senseFly.

Read more: Parrot and RIIS Partner to Develop AI Applications

Read more: Parrot and Kittyhawk Partner on ANAFI SDK Program

armasuisse select Parrot

The call for tender was launched at the beginning of 2019 by armasuisse, the federal procurement agency responsible for the Swiss Armed Forces. The initial part of the program is intended to provide cost-effective training aids, allowing Swiss troops to become familiar with Mini UAV operations.

It’s not clear to what extent Parrot will lean on technology from its commercial drone companies, which include senseFly, in order to support Switzerland’s military plans. It’s easy to imagine the group’s fixed-wing drones supporting both personnel security and situational awareness. But senseFly, which is based in Switzerland, will be in charge of “operational support” for the project.

Unsurprisingly, product specifications, quantities and prices have not been disclosed. The only clue is from Parrot is that “the financial impact of this project will not be significant on the Group’s results.”

From which we can assume that this is a small opening contract and a promising early step into the field of security and defence for the French manufacturer.

By |2020-02-18T07:56:13+00:00February 17th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Judge Strikes Down Michigan County’s Drone Ban

kennethaw88 / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

A Michigan county’s attempt to ban drone flights in its public parks crashed and burned last week after a judge ruled the ordinance flew in the face of state law.

Flint-area circuit court Judge Joseph Farah granted an injunction to prohibit enforcement of the ban as part of a lawsuit filed last year by the Michigan Coalition of Drone Operators.

In 2018, police handcuffed, and detained group member Jason Harrison after confiscating his  DJI Mavic drone, claiming UAV flights over local parks were illegal. At the time, drone flights were not banned, and police didn’t prosecute the ticket. Later, the county board of commissioners changed park regulations to ban drones.

“This case was specifically about the issue of takeoff/landing,” Harrison said in a Facebook post last week. “The park acknowledged early in the case they lack the authority to regulate airspace and overflights, but they contended that they had authority to prevent takeoff/landing because they felt preemption didn’t apply to them.”

In his ruling, Farah agreed with the MCDO  that Michigan state law forbids local governments from issuing drone bans.

“The crux of the case is that Genesee County was regulating unmanned aircraft while Michigan law clearly reads that local governments shall not do this,” an MCDO spokesperson said. “Harrison contended all along that the rangers lacked the authority to make such an arrest or to enforce local drone ordinances.”

“This day is a huge celebration for the rule of law and legal drone operations,” Ryan J. Latourette, Director of Regulatory Affairs with Great Lakes Drone Company LLC said in a Facebook post.

“While this case sets precedent only for the State of Michigan, it creates a very distinct signal that localities in other states with the preemption clause could find themselves in legal trouble attempting to enforce it,” Latourette added.

By |2020-02-19T08:18:40+00:00February 17th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Drone Champions League Flies Manned Aerobatic Drone Through the Hoops (You Can Too – Virtually)

The second test of the Big Drone seen in Vrsar, Croatia on February 07, 2020.

If you’ve ever fantasized about flying your own racing drone through the obstacles to glory – get ready to be totally addicted.  The  Drone Champions League (DCL), the world’s largest live drone racing league, will release their first online drone game, DCL – The Game, on February 18.  In preparation, they’ve made the fantasy real: withe launch of the first aerobatic manned drone. “The vision is to race manned drones in the future, and you can start training to fly them today on DCL – The Game,”  says DCL.

Check out the aerobatic manned drone here – then read on to see how you can get your hands on the game.

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The following is from a DCL press release.

DCL – The Game is ideal for all drone pilot fans and gamers who want to experience the thrill of the sport on their screens in a virtual high-speed environment. The Game includes:

  • More than 30 drone racing tracks, including 1:1 virtual real drone racing tracks and some of the world’s most iconic locations, like the Great Wall of China or through the iconic Rapperswill Castle in Zurich, Switzerland
  • Four flight modes, from beginner to elite training
  • Opportunity to train and qualify for a seat on the official Drone Champions League

With this game, DCL gives players the chance to become a real-life Drone Prix Champion and an opportunity to compete with professionals in real life. To live the dream, players can register for the draft and play DCL – The Game, clock the fastest times and qualify to battle the best of the best for a DCL team seat.

About DCL – The Game

  • DCL – The Game addresses all drone pilot fans and gamers who are interested in taking their first step in first person-view drone racing, freestyle pilots, camera drone operators and experienced drone racing pilots
  • The Game features 30 tracks with additional tracks available online with the ability to play with pilots from all over the world in multi-player modes, up to 30 people.
  • Players can earn and unlock over 100 cosmetic items to individualize their drone, such as drone skins and trails.
  • Beginning February 18, purchase DCL – The Game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam (PC and Mac)

o   Standard Edition PC & Mac: $29.99

o   Standard Edition Consoles: $39.99

About Drone Champions League (DCL)

  • The Drone Champions League (DCL) is the recognized championship league for professional drone racing teams, an innovative race series that blurs the lines between virtual and the reality.
  • Since 2016, DCL has drawn the world’s best drone pilots, who quality for each race in DCL – The Game and then go on to compete on international teams in real-life settings, from global capital to surreal natural wonders.
  • Each real-life DCL race is broadcasted live, worldwide on TV and online, the LED-lit racing drones dart through custom tracks head-to-head and reach speeds of more than 160 km/h as the pilots fly them using FPV goggles.
  • The Drone Champions League Championships take place in spectacular locations and cities, like the Great Wall of China and the Champs-Elysées in Paris.
By |2020-02-18T07:56:18+00:00February 17th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Drone Disinfection: JD Joins the Fight to Prevent an Epidemic [VIDEO]

JD Drone disinfecting Mongolia

Chinese delivery giant JD has joined the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.  JD.com reports that the company flew two drones spraying disinfectant in Ordos City, an important industrial city in Inner Mongolia, China.

“With an increasing number of people returning back to work from their hometowns following the Spring Festival holiday, JD’s drones have helped the city strengthen its protective measures against the coronavirus,” writes JD.com’s Ling Cao.

The mission plan involved two drones, each carrying 10 liters of disinfectant spray at a time, to cover specific areas in the city.  “With a flight radius of 5km, using drones enables the city to cover a wider and more thorough area than they would be able to cover with human personnel, in a shorter period of time,” says the JD.com article.

Hang Ba, head of JD’s drone program, said, “In addition to supporting last-mile delivery, especially in hard to reach, or closed-off areas, our drones can also help with critical disinfection procedures during the coronavirus period.”

JD is scheduled to complete more drone disinfection missions later in the week.  The company will also provide drone delivery services for some residential areas that have been quaratined during the health crisis: “enabling convenient delivery while minimizing human-to-human contact,” sasy JD.

JD has used their fleet before to support humanitarian and relief efforts, establishing China’s first nationwide drone rescue team in 2018 and supporting disaster relief after major storms.  In this latest effort, drones are being used in innovative ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus.   DJI, drone manufacturers based in Shenzhen, China, have also used spraying drones for humanitarian efforts.

By |2020-02-18T07:56:18+00:00February 17th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

India Flying Labs Teaches Drone Skills in Nagaland

courtesy of India Flying Labs

WeRobotics recently launched a workshop in Nagaland, a state in India, to teach the Office of State Disaster Management Authority how to plan and pilot data-driven drone missions.

The group is a “team of entrepreneurs, drone adventurers and humanitarians bringing robotics technology to communities for social good.”

Under the group’s Flying Labs initiative, WeRobotics conducted a “Drone Data Expert Workshop.”

A team of experts led the four-day workshop —  Ruchi Saxena of India Flying Labs and Caerobotics (who leads the formation of localized UAV Rapid Response Task Forces), Darpan Pudasaini of DroneNepal, and WeRobotics co-founder Patrick Meier.

Noted a spokesperson:

“We aimed to make the workshop enjoyable yet straightforward, using hands-on exercises on all the commonly used data tools for analyzing drone images and videos, contextualized for using before, during, and after emergencies and disasters, and extend their applications for long-term development projects in the state.”

The team taught basic drone flight principles, mapping and mission planning. Using Picterra, an AI-based imaging-data tool, the students learned how to simply count elements in an image quickly.

Following a test flight over the village of Meriema, the teams learned about data cleaning, processing, and analysis using hands-on solutions from Pix4D and Drone Deploy

“With all of this new knowledge, the teams presented their group project ideas for which they would use drones and data—all relevant to the unique local needs in the districts where they work. The projects were about search and rescue, identification of land-sinking areas, landslides preparation and monitoring, earthquake preparation, drainage planning, spraying of mosquito parricides, urban planning and resettlements, digital land records, flood monitoring, small-hold organic farming, habitat monitoring, mitigating human-wildlife conflict, forest monitoring for illegal poaching and unscientific and illegal quarrying.”

In 2018, WeRobotics partnered with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to test a drone-based effort to sterilize mosquitoes in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly Zika virus.

By |2020-02-19T08:18:43+00:00February 17th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Drones Harvest Grape Expectations for Wine Research

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You may remember the late Orson Welles’ tagline from the 1970s Paul Masson commercials: “We will sell no wine before its time.”

The sentiment makes compelling advertising copy but, as any vintner knows, the art of properly ageing wine can’t be bottled in a snappy catchphrase. Beyond soil quality and climate, proper temperature control can make or break a specific vintage.

“That’s all fascinating but, this is DroneLife, not Wine Spectator,” you say? You’ve probably guessed by now — drones are helping wineries avoid selling their wines before their time.

A recent study in Remote Sensing tackled the question – How can a vintner achieve optimal cellar temperature without wasting energy?

The study notes:

“The introduction of modern cooling systems to the wine industry has allowed excellent wines to be produced almost anywhere in the world, with a high degree of independence from the surrounding climate. However, energy use during wine production still represents a high percentage of the total electricity used by the winery.”

courtesy of Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities

Many wineries have returned to the tried-and-true method of using old wine cellars (“buried or semi-buried structures”) to achieve optimal ambient temperatures. But that raises another problem. Many older cellars have thermal inconsistencies in their construction that get worse over time – an issue that can only be detected with precise thermal sensors.

Last year, researchers from Madrid and Lugo, Spain launched a combined drone/ground survey to create a heat-data map over a semi-buried wine cellar built in the 1920s in O Saviñao.

Using a Drone Quasar UAV equipped with FLIR thermal imagery sensors, the team programmed the quadcopter to fly an autonomous flight path over the entire structure while a technician mapped out the crowded interior using a handheld, pole-mounted camera.

“The capture of some images was planned to be done in a simultaneous manner to obtain comparative thermal measurements, not with the objective of assessing performance. Nevertheless, in this study, the efficiency of the drone far outweighed the performance of the work done with the pole. The total numbers of images taken outside with the drone and with the pole-mounted camera were 321 and 110, respectively, for the same time of acquisition.”

The captured data allowed the team to find several quality issues with the cellar:

“Air leakages beside the door and above the window, which heat the surface of the surrounding walls, differences in the thicknesses of the upper and lower door leaves, thermal radiation reflected by the ceramic tiles, which introduces noise into the image, and an area between floor joists with missing insulation.”

The final results equipped researchers to make several recommendations to fix the issues and ensure a quality vintage using less energy.

“The drone-mounted camera allows for exhaustive image capture, including in the most difficult-to-access areas of the cellar, such as the roofs, without compromising the safety of the operator.”

Bonus: Here’s Orson Welles filming a Paul Masson after too much “research.”

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By |2020-02-17T08:29:14+00:00February 16th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Car Porn From CES: Mercedes Benz Meets Avatar

The Computer Electronics Show (CES) is the home for many things technology from Drones to Sex Toys to cars.  We had the opportunity to see several concept car from Mercedes Benz that we wanted to share what we learned from our readers.

First of all the show is huge with over 175,000 attendees (according to CES).  While they vary,  many of the exhibitors have very large booths,  in some cases with multiple floors, and with separate rooms with either meeting rooms for press or VIP’s and cool toys like fancy coffee machines.   Mercedes Benz is on the larger side, with at least three cars being exhibited.  One current model and two concepts cars that show autonomous concepts.  Nothing that is available today but to give the public a glimpse of what the future might look like.

After waiting in a line for 10 minutes we were shepherded into a separate room in the center of the booth (that was in mostly darkness) but contained what Mercedes Benz is calling the Vision AVTR which is designed by Mercedes Benz but inspired by James Cameron’s movie Avatar.  To cut to the chase,  IMHO,  the car is beautiful.

Listening to the spokesman, who is the lead design engineer for the Vision AVTR you learn that the car in a concept car designed and based on John Camerons Avitar movie and that is is complaint with Level 5- which means that it is full automation.  That means no pedals and depending upon who you ask, no steering wheel.  This car has no steering wheel.

The levels of autonomy, with a summary of what each level entails, and how far from full automation.

  • Level 0 – No Automation. This describes your everyday car
  • Level 1 – Driver Assistance
  • Level 2 – Partial Automation
  • Level 3 – Conditional Automation
  • Level 4 – High Automation
  • Level 5 – Full Automation

Make no mistake about it the car is beautiful.  The seats look like a cross between a car seat and a hammock where they are trimmed (as is much of the car) with cool looking LED lights.  The wheels are unusual in that that are donut shaped with LED lights in stripes that go vertically from the hub of the wheel out to the end of the tire.  The spokesman told us that the “all four wheels can rotate up to 30 degrees”  that means that parallel parking should be more of a snap as you could crab walk into a tight space.    We were told that it does run and has been driven on the “Las Vegas Strip”.  The rear of the car has a number of “louvers” that can either go up to slow the car down of position themselves to act as spoilers at speed.  They move in conjunction and almost looks like a dragon scales.

When you sit inside the Vision AVTR (which NO one was allowed to do), the spokesman tells you that it detects your pulse and can sense your breathing. Mercedes says this biometric connection is integral to how the concept operates; and allows the car to control the car bio metrically  that reminds one of the movie.  Remember the tree?  The pulsing control pad on the console is where you rest your hand upon entering the car, and this is where you’ll manage all of the vehicle’s key functions.  There is no steering wheel or petals that I could see.

The seat design is also inspired by the hammock like structures the Avatar characters sleep in, so you feel supported but also recumbent.

Mercedes Benz, Vison EQS is shown as well.

By |2020-02-17T08:29:29+00:00February 16th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Honda Self-Driving Car: An Autonomous Car We Want to Drive

DroneLife caught up with Marcus Frommer a spokeperson from Honda at CES and talked about the very handsome little roadster that you see pictured.

We were discussing Honda’s approach to autonomous cars including a level 5 concept car that they brought to CES.  One difference from the other concept cars shown here is that the Honda vehicle includes a steering wheel.    Some cars, including those by GM and Mercedes Benz have displayed concept level 5 cars without steering wheels.

Mr. Frommer tells DroneLife,  “We want to preserve the steering wheel.  We still feel that driving is fun.  But maybe not while you are sitting in traffic.  Our level 5 with assisted driving as an option gives drives the option of using the steering wheel or allowing the car to drive itself” .. “The founder of Honda loved racing everything cars, motorcycles and we think that leaving the option gives people the choice.”

We had a chance to take a virtual reality simulation while sitting sit in the car.  From the drivers seat the button in the middle of the steering wheel is like the brain of the car,  it displays a blue dot than the car is driving itself and reacts to your hands on the wheel if you are driving it using the wheel.   As you grab the wheel the hub changes to a speedometer and you are in control although aided greatly by the car.

There is a huge amount of driver assist.  For example, even when driving it would not let you turn off the road into a tree, it would self-brake if there was something in your way,  or if another car got in your way.

Here is a video of the car.

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By |2020-02-19T08:18:51+00:00February 16th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

InterDrone Flies South to Dallas for 2020 Conference, Expo

file photo

One of the largest annual drone-industry expos is heading south.

InterDrone recently announced a change of venue from last year’s event in Las Vegas to Dallas.

The conference takes flight Aug. 18-21 at the Hyatt Regency and will feature more than 90 panels, sessions, drone workshops, courses and keynotes spread across five distinct co-located events:

Officials say InterDrone will facilitate connection with drone pilots, service providers, UAS engineers and developers, UAV manufacturers, videographers and enterprise UAV end-users.

Organizers expect more than 135 UAS vendors and providers in the expo space as well as other drone-facing organizations. Attendees may buy a comprehensive three-day pass at registration.

InterDrone has been lauded at past events for its partnership with Women and Drones. In 2020, the conference will highlight two of the organization’s newest programs. Drone pilot and economist Tulinda Larsen is leading both a new membership and jobs-board initiatives for Women and Drones.

“In doing our research we found there are 26,000 jobs available every day in the drone industry,” Larsen said in a recent interview.

“Every company that responded to our survey is looking to hire. Companies told us at InterDrone Expo 2019 that they just can’t find women applicants. We launched the Women and Drones Jobs Board to provide companies to leverage our network of more than 6,000 to find qualified candidates. In addition to jobs, we are offering resources to job seekers and companies to provide tools for balancing the gender equation.”

The program will also feature a Women in Drones Luncheon.

The FAA’s most recent Remote ID proposal is expected to draw a lot of attention from conference speakers.

Past InterDrone panelist Vic Moss, an admin for the popular Commercial sUAS Remote Pilots group and an educator with Drone U, stated in a recent expo interview that Remote ID would have a tremendous positive or negative impact on the industry, depending on the final set of rules passed.

“This NPRM is the single most important set of UAS rules that have ever been published by the FAA,” he said.

“It is critically imperative that each person who uses drones in their business, flies them for fun, or it involved in an industry that uses drones (realty, inspection, STEM Educators, surveyors, etc.) comment on this NPRM, and let the FAA, DHS (Department of Homeland Security), and the FBI know what this will do to the industry.”

The comment period for the rules proposals will end March 2.

By |2020-02-16T08:31:10+00:00February 15th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Nothing Says I Love You Like a Valentines Day Discount from DJI (Ends Today!)

From DJI

image DJI

Too late for flowers?  Is your spouse on a diet and not into chocolate?   Guitar skills not quite up to serenading your sweetie?

No problem – nothing says I love you like a drone for Valentine’s day –  or at least a cool camera to take all of the action sequences that you are planning to do as soon as you have the time.

While love is of course priceless,  you might as well save a little coin while making your sweetie happy.  Maybe not as happy as the couple is in the Jeep shown, but happier than if you forget Valentine’s day…

Today is the last day of DJI’s Valentine’s Day Sale.  The Osmo Pocket which is normally $399 dollars can now be purchased for $309 – a savings of $90 dollars.   DJI writes that Osmo Pocket is both compact and intelligent, and that the Osmo Pocket turns any moment into a cinematic memory.

image DJI

The Osmo Action goes from $379 to $279 with a free Osma Action Battery thrown in.  The Osmo Action unleash your other side with Osmo Action’s dual screens and RockSteady stabilization, letting you capture it all.

Tello Boost Combo goes from $168 to $135 for the sale:  Now this really is a drone, be it a small one.  DJI writes that the Tello’s lightweight, yet durable design combined with software and hardware protections ensures that you always fly with confidence.

Check them out at the DJI store here.

Shipping is free for orders over $159 that are placed within the time frame of the offering.  Check the website for final details.

By |2020-02-15T08:18:37+00:00February 14th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

DJI is Using Drones to Help in the Fight Against Coronavirus: Spraying Drones Disinfect Public Spaces

DJI’s Agras spraying drone

The ways in which drones can be used for good just keeps expanding.  The world’s largest drone manufacturer DJI has published an article describing how the company is modifying spraying drones to assist public health officials in China in the fight against the coronavirus.

The coronavirus has become a major health problem in China and around the world.  In recent days, airports all over the globe are screening travelers for recent visits to China, and some airlines have now stopped direct flights.  The death toll from the virus has topped 1,000 in mainland China, and communities are legitimately concerned about halting the spread of the virus, which can be transmitted person to person.

Chinese public health officials, and Chinese-based drone manufacturer DJI, have been willing to adopt new tools to meet the challenge.  DJI has pledged their time, money and expertise to bring drone technology to the fight.

Together with agricultural technology think tanks, DJI has been working to fight the disease. On February 4, we pledged almost US $1.5 million in aid to help contain the outbreak. We have also adapted our Agras series of agricultural spraying drones to spray disinfectant in potentially affected areas. Drones can dramatically improve how China attempts to kill the virus in public areas: They can cover far more ground than traditional methods, while reducing risk to workers who would otherwise spend more time potentially exposed to both the virus and the disinfectant.

Drones for spraying offer many critical advantages, especially in an emergency – they can be up to 50 times faster than traditional methods, and they can keep human operators out of harms way. Relatively simple and inexpensive to operate, drones can be quickly mobilized.  DJI recently demonstrated another humanitarian use of spraying drones in Tanzania, with the use of drones to help fight against malaria bearing mosquitos.

In addition to spraying disinfectant, drones have been used as a major tool for educating the public quickly.  Drones mounted with loudspeakers or flying banners provided valuable information.  Additionally, says DJI:  “Thermal cameras on drones were also used to monitor body temperature so medical staff can identify new potential cases.”

With person-to-person infection, drone delivery could prove to be another aid in stopping the spread of the virus, the company says.  Drone delivery will enable affected households to receive supplies without risking the spread of infection.

DJI were originators in the #DronesForGood movement. With the coronavirus response, they’re demonstrating new ways that drones can contribute to the problems communities face around the world. Romeo Durscher, Senior Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI, is quoted:  “Assisting on the containment of a disease, while ensuring safety to personnel, was very difficult to do in the past,” said Durscher.  “This was a complete grassroots movement. Users inspired us to take action, and it was worth the effort. It embodies the DJI spirit, where anyone with the access to these new tools can help improve their environment and help society.”

By |2020-02-15T08:18:40+00:00February 14th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

17 Days Left to Comment on Remote ID for Drones: What the Comments Look Like So Far

The FAA announced a long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Remote ID for drones on 12/31/2019.  The comment period required by federal law is open until March 2, 2020 (if you wish to comment, you may review the NPRM and do so here.)  Over 13,000 comments have been submitted so far – and from “over-regulation at its finest” to “unreasonable” and “deeply concerned,” the comments are overwhelmingly negative.  While that may simply reflect the fact that those who comment wish to see a change, some clear themes emerge from the comments posted so far.

The Recreational Drone Community: “Deeply Concerned”

The vast majority of individual comments come from the recreational drone community.  Many of these comments use the AMA’s suggested template for comment: one which says “I am deeply concerned that some elements of the proposal could impose significant costs on the model aviation community and unnecessarily restrict existing, safe model aircraft operations.”  Many, however, tell stories about involvement in a hobby that they see disappearing overnight as a result of the rule.

The recreational community, including the largest representative community-based organization, the AMA, has legitimate concerns.  The variety of aircraft involved in the hobby and the CBO-led activities which have earned a stellar safety record over decades are not well-represented in the rule.  As just one example: while the rule would allow recreational aircraft to fly at designated flying fields, those fields would have to be designated quickly – resulting in a permanent fixed list.  That doesn’t reflect the reality of changing property uses, with some fields closing or changing location every year.

Professional Operators: “Increasing Costs”

Part 107 licensed commercial operators have also expressed concern over the rule.  For farmers flying over their fields daily to monitor crops to drone service providers gathering aerial data for construction sites, many Part 107 operators don’t see a safety benefit to outweigh the costs of compliance.

Most of these operators comment that the remote nature of their work makes compliance both difficult and unneccesary.  Flying in remote areas is inherently less risky, say pilots.  While flying in remote areas, the lack of a reliable communications network could require them to carry hardware: that, commenters point out, could shorten flight endurance and add to their costs.

Hardware Manufacturers: “Deeply Flawed”

The largest hardware manufacturer in the world, DJI, has commented that the rule is “deeply flawed.”  DJI has long championed the concept of remote ID and tracking as a critical step to integrating drones into the airspace.  With over 60% (or more, by some estimates) of the commercial market, DJI will bear a large burden in making compliance easy for their customers.   You can read more of DJI’s comments here, but in summary, the company says that the FAA has made the issue harder – more expensive and more difficult – than is necessary for safety.

DJI supports Remote ID but is advocating against the FAA’s Remote ID proposal to save drone innovators needless expense and hassle, and because we believe a less complex and costly Remote ID approach will do a better job of fulfilling the safety and security needs the FAA has articulated. We all want safe and secure skies. But few people who understand drone technology will support this proposal, except those who stand to profit from it.

By |2020-02-15T08:18:41+00:00February 14th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Parrot and RIIS Partner to Develop AI Applications

Back in 2018, IT consultancy and mobile app development specialists RIIS showed how, with a little help from Google’s machine learning platform, TensorFlow, a DJI drone could be used to count the number of sheep in a field in real-time.

At the time it was an interesting, albeit niche glimpse into how drones and AI could work together to carry out relatively mundane tasks.

Today, RIIS has partnered with Europe’s largest drone company, Parrot, to develop similar AI programs using the ANAFI platform.

Together the companies will explore how artificial intelligence, computer vision technology, and drone data capture can be combined to solve industry challenges.

Read more: Parrot and Kittyhawk Partner on ANAFI SDK Program

In order to demonstrate the potential of the technology and encourage developers to start creating their innovative apps, Parrot and RIIS have published a technical whitepaper with step-by-step instructions for adding AI and computer vision applications to the ANAFI platform using Parrot’s open-source Ground SDK.

RIIS built a Cattle Counter app, which allows farmers and agriculture professionals to quickly and accurately carry out a headcount of cattle herds, to automate the monitoring and counting process. Cattle Counter is currently available for download on Google Play.

“We are excited to explore the immense capabilities AI and drones will deliver to our clients through our ongoing partnership with RIIS,” said Jerome Bouvard, Parrot Director of Strategic Partnership.

“At Parrot, we are always looking for innovative solutions for our enterprise partner’s every-day pain points.”

According to a Parrot press release, the two new partners are exploring use cases which could include municipal use of drones for assessing parking lots, public parks, and streetlights; crowd monitoring; warehouse inventory counting; automated inspection of cell phone towers and solar panels; property surveillance for real estate professionals and developers, and much more.

“Our recent collaboration with Parrot perfectly illustrates the immense potential of developing apps for Parrot’s ANAFI drone platform,” said RIIS CEO and Founder Godfrey Nolan. “Leveraging the power of AI and machine learning apps with Parrot drones promises to provide previously impossible solutions to costly and time-consuming challenges.

Parrot has big ambitions for its SDK Partner program, which already includes Kittyhawk. The aim is to create a global ecosystem of drone apps to serve the unique and ever-evolving needs of enterprise and professional users.

Parrot is working with partners to create and bring to market new applications, software and hardware that integrates with the ANAFI and ANAFI Thermal platforms.

By |2020-02-14T08:12:49+00:00February 14th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Japan Airlines & Sumitomo Partner with Bell Textron to Provide Air Mobility Services in Asia

With this agreement, jointly and collectively, JAL, Sumitomo and Bell will explore business opportunities for the air mobility services: deploying Bell’s eVTOL in Japan and Asia.

DRONELIFE had the opportunity to see and to interview a spokeman at Bell Textron last month in Las Vegas – see that article here.

Bell’s Vice President of Innovation, Scott Drennan, told DRONELIFE: “We are excited to take this substantial step to bring together an international airline, a major infrastructure provider, and a VTOL OEM to work collaboratively on a more connected mobility future. While we are known for our 80 years of creating vertical lift aircraft that move people, goods, and data; we also want to help shape the operational infrastructure in which they will live.”

ProPictured is a Bell Textron eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) prototype, a relatively small aircraft (the one that we sat in had space to up to 5 people)  that can take off and land vertically by rotating multiple rotors with an electric motor.

This vehicle and other similar prototypes are attracting attention as a means of next-generation urban transportation that combines drone and electric vehicle technologies as cities struggle to provide solutions for increasing congestion over and above more traditional methods such as cars, buses, or light rail.

Summarized from their press release:

Sumitomo is a century-old global enterprise based in Japan.  The company has a broad business portfolio, which includes metal products, transportation & construction systems, infrastructure, media & digital, living related & real estate, and mineral resources, energy, and chemicals to support the development of the necessary infrastructure and business use cases for air mobility. “We have been inspired by Bell’s vision and their capability of penetrating into this urban air mobility market,” said Eiji Ishida, Sumitomo’s Executive Officer of Lease, Ship & Aerospace Business Division. “All three companies bring a unique perspective, and we are excited to work together toward this new future.”

The third partner, Japan Airlines (JAL) is a global international airline.  Tomohiro Nishihata, Japan Airlines’ Managing Executive Officer of Innovation said that “Japan Airlines is eager to explore the future of air travel beyond its existing framework, and we believe this is the right team to set the standard in Japan for future cities to implement urban air mobility systems.”

By |2020-02-14T08:12:52+00:00February 13th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

FLIR Delta Podcast: Randall Warnas Speaks with Rod Dayrit on Intelligent Drone Charging Systems

In this episode, Randall Warnas of FLIR meets up with Rod Dayrit, Delta-Q Technology.

Rod has an extensive background in the mobile industry has moved to the battery charging space. In this episode, they discuss the parallel paths of drones and cell phones and the intricacies of working with drones, especially ones that are for specific vertical applications.

Delta-Q Technology manufactures battery chargers for a variety of applications.  They discuss the differences between “dumb chargers” and “intelligent charging systems” that communicate between the battery and the charger with built in diagnostics.  Intelligent charging systems are more frequently used for specialize applications such as heavy lift types drones rather than for general drone products such as DJI might provide.

The more critical the drone usage, the more intelligent charging systems matter.

By |2020-02-14T08:12:54+00:00February 13th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

How Drones are Saving Koalas Injured in Australia’s Bushfires

A couple of years ago, we shared the news that a forestry company in Victoria, Australia, was using drones equipped with thermal cameras to detect koalas before trees were cut down or controlled burns ignited.

In recent times, the wildfires devastating the same area of Australia have been anything but controlled. And sadly, those same methods have been required as part of a search and rescue initiative involving Victoria’s koala population.

A photo gallery published in today’s Guardian shows how DJI equipment is being used by Victoria Police to track down koalas in the aftermath of the fires. Many of the bears have suffered serious burns and require veterinary treatment.

Habitats across the state of Victoria have been completely or partially destroyed, so work is underway to rehome koalas into nearby reserves. The only trouble is, detecting bears among the canopy – even when large areas of forest have been wiped out by bushfires – is extremely difficult.

Watch: Using a FLIR Thermal Camera to Track Whales

Ironically, the solution relies on the same element that caused all of this destruction in the first place: heat. Police and wildlife officers are using drones and thermal cameras to detect the heat signatures of the surviving koalas.

Once the bears are located, the team on the ground are using the drone to get a closer look and see if medical attention is required. If the bears are in need of assistance, the team are using cherry pickers to fetch them down.

A member of the Victorian police drone unit uses a DJI drone to search for and assess koalas.

From what we can see, the emergency crews in Australia are flying DJI’s Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual. The commercial platform was launched at the end of 2018 and is designed to be used with a range of accessories as part of industrial inspection and public safety missions.

It looks as though DJI can add koala search and rescue to the list of applications.

A thermal shot of a koala.

Images from the Guardian.

By |2020-02-13T08:39:09+00:00February 12th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

The Commercial Drone Industry: Bubble Burst, or Billion Dollar Industry? What the Data Says

Answering questions about a new industry is challenging: data can be hard to come by.  Media guesses range from “game over” to “billion dollar growth industry.”  That’s why DroneDeploy’s industry report has value: with a five year history and a robust client list, the leading drone mapping platform is in a position to gather data from their customers and compare it over time.

DroneDeploy recently surveyed 145 customers across 10+ industries, including Oil & Gas, Agriculture, Mining, Roofing, Construction, Solar Energy and more, asking how they drones and drones software and how they are benefiting from this technology.  (You can download the report for free, here.)

Expected – and Unexpected – Use Cases

Drones and drone mapping platforms show clear benefits and have established use cases in construction, insurance, agriculture and insurance.  DroneDeploy is seeing more and more use cases that we haven’t thought of before.  One big 10 university, for example, is using drone technology for applications that range from facility maintenance to security.  With more than 2000 acres to manage, they’re using drones and DroneDeploy to manage their lawns – and to go further:

The university aims to track year-over-year erosion and tree lean through DroneDeploy. This will bring even more cost savings and campus security, as the university’s team will be able to spot and address trees that could potentially fall and damage campus buildings or harm students.

One major hotel chain has found benefit in using drone technology to manage and monitor sites around the globe – allowing executives who sit in a central office to make informed decisions about maintenance, security, and new buildings.

Drones May Be “Ubiquitous”

The vast majority of customers said they expect both their use of drones and the use of drones in general to increase.  Some key takeaways from the report:

  • 92% expect drones to become more common in their industry by 2020.

  • 90% expect to increase their spend on drones / drone software in 2020.

  • Downside protection across various categories drives 69% of use cases, including increased safety (29%), risk management (21%), and compliance (19%).

  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that they use drones to “improve operations” and “increase productivity”.

  • Respondents noted the top three benefits were innovation (59%), increased efficiency/speed (57%), and cost-effectiveness (50%).

While most customers already using drones expect their use to increase, there remain many companies slow to adopt, says the report:

…this efficiency and optimization have lagged in the business world, where big corporations can be slow to change and adopt new technologies. An MIT study, for example, found that 63% of companies are too slow to change their technology. Drones and drone software is growing rapidly but still is leveraged by just a small percentage of companies.

As drones keep proving their competitive advantage, however, that will change – which looks to us like lots of room for upside, and continued expansion.

By |2020-02-13T08:39:13+00:00February 12th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Earning Your Drone License in the U.K.: Your Questions Answered

In the UK, anybody over the age of 18 can purchase a drone and, after a quick, online multiple-choice quiz, register and fly it. Legally, any adult can fly lightweight drones recreationally without a license. However, if you are more serious about flying and want to use drone piloting as a way of making money, you need to apply for a Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO).

The following is a guest post by Dan Brown, Camera Operator and Editor at U.K. and South Africa-based TopLine Film.

What is a PfCO?

The PfCO, sometimes informally called a ‘drone license’, is a document issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which gives you permission to fly a drone weighing up to 20kg commercially. The use of drones in various fields continues to increase, so investing in a PfCO is a valuable proposition.

How do I get one?

A PfCO is issued when you complete a training course with a school that has registered with the CAA, called a National Qualified Entity (NQE). There are NQEs which cater to a variety of skill levels from absolute beginner to experienced hobbyist, so be sure to do your research and choose the right course for you.

 What is the training like?

Most CAA-approved courses begin with two days of ‘Ground School’. This involves learning about drone operation in a classroom setting and concludes with a theory exam – much like the theory component of earning a driving license. Ground School covers the legal requirements of operating a drone, the basic physics of flight and electronics, emergency procedures, flight planning and meteorology, among other things.

This stage often includes the writing of your Operations Manual. This is a document that you submit to the CAA outlining how you intend to use your drone commercially, and it’s a prerequisite to earning your PfCO. Make sure to get this right, because there’s a fee for resubmitting it.

What sort of practical assessment is there?

Once you’ve passed your theory exam, you’re on to the practical flight test. This gives you the chance to get hands on and prove that you can fly safely over the course of an hour and a half. You’ll need to demonstrate diligent pre-flight planning, responsible set-up, and – most importantly – competent flying. The student will be instructed to perform a series of manoeuvres without the assistance of ATTI mode and will be judged on their performance. Most schools advise that students have at least five hours of flight time logged before attempting their flight test.

What next?

 Once you’ve completed Ground School, your practical assessment and your Operations Manual, it’s time to submit your application to the CAA. The NQE can’t do this step for you, but it’s straightforward: you simply fill in the paperwork and submit it online. You will also need to pay the application fee of £247, and be aware that a rejected application still costs £150 – so be sure to check and double check your paperwork. After that, you’ll hear back whether your application has been successful, and if it is, you’re ready to fly.

 How long does the PfCO apply?

As any enthusiast can tell you, drone technology is advancing incredibly rapidly. As a result, the CAA is concerned that a course one year might lose relevance the next, so they require recertification annually. Your NQE should keep in touch with you and let you know about any changes in the law, but it’s also worth keeping an eye on the news and social media yourself. When it comes to recertification, you can either do it yourself or go through an external company for a more convenient, faster turnaround.

Dan Brown is a licensed drone operator, camera operator and editor working full-time for video agency, Topline Film in Central London. Dan has a Masters Degree in Cinematography and a Bachelor Degree in Film.

By |2020-02-13T08:39:14+00:00February 12th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Flyability Flies Into the US with a New Office and A User Conference

Swiss-based Flyability is opening a office in the U.S.: and offering its first-ever U.S.- based user conference. Flyability has a unique drone platform that is normally used indoors, performing applications that are difficult and dangerous for people to do.  We have written recently about Flyability in a partnership with Pix4D,  and an interview with their […]

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By |2020-02-12T08:19:36+00:00February 11th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

SkyWatch.AI and Starr Insurance Companies Launch Drone Insurance in Canada

SkyWatch.AI is drone insurance for skilled professional operators – providing drone insurance that not only offers a sophisticated risk analysis platform, but also allows pilots to reduce their costs as they establish a safety record. SkyWatch’s differentiators include their flexibility – pilots can receive liability coverage by hour, month, or year – and their risk […]

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By |2020-02-12T08:19:37+00:00February 11th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

French Drone Company Covers Democratic Debates

Last month’s Democratic presidential debate may have been divisive to many American voters, but one issue without debate is the crystal-clear aerial footage provided by drone company Elistair. During the Jan. 14 televised debate, the company’s tethered drone system provided 13 hours of live footage on CNN at Drake University in Iowa. With the support […]

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By |2020-02-11T08:32:11+00:00February 10th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Flirtey Granted Patent for Automated Parachute Safety System

Drone delivery specialist Flirtey has been granted a patent that the company says will “enhance its fundamental technology”. The patent refers to an automatic parachute deployment system to support drone flights and aerial deliveries being carried out safely. The patent recognizes the ability of a drone’s technology to detect an error in operation while in […]

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By |2020-02-11T08:32:11+00:00February 10th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Mr. Drone Goes to Washington: AUVSI Hosts Hill Day March 25

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International is urging drone enthusiasts, companies and groups to come to Washington D.C. next month for AUVSI Hill Day (Capitol Hill, that is). The event—March 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.—will educate lawmakers about “how unmanned technology is making a positive impact on local communities and economies across the […]

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By |2020-02-09T08:28:42+00:00February 8th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Drones are Being Deployed in the Fight Against Coronavirus

Last month, aerial footage emerged from a busy intersection in Shuyang, northern China. The video – admittedly a piece of state propaganda – shows drones equipped with loudspeakers being used by law enforcement. The purpose? To remind pedestrians to wear their facemasks in an effort to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. This, it seems, […]

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By |2020-02-09T08:28:42+00:00February 8th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments

Drones May Soon Deliver Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Ice cream addicts jonesing for Chunky Monkey  or Cherry Garcia may soon look to the skies for their daily allowance of frozen heaven. Terra Drone Europe is teaming up with British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever to explore drone delivery of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cups. During a recent Unilever investor’s event, attendees watched as a multi-copter […]

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By |2020-02-08T08:56:21+00:00February 7th, 2020|Drone News|0 Comments
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