Category Archives: Commercial UAS Application

UK-Singapore Collaboration Prepares for Record 300km Hydrogen Fuel Cell UAV Flight

A new civilian fuel cell UAV designed for search and rescue is gearing up for the world’s first ever 300km UAV flight to cross the North Sea, linking Scotland to Norway

Set to take off within days, this historic flight is the result of a joint effort between UAV fuel cell power systems supplier Horizon Energy Systems (HES) of Singapore, and Scottish UAV developer RaptorUAS. The team is working with Northern Colorado Search and Rescue in the US, as a first end-user of the long endurance UAV system.

The Singapore-built fuel cell is able to keep the Raptor E1 UAV flying for over 12 hours, which makes it an ideal support tool in difficult search and rescue operations over large areas of sea or land. Recognized as the world’s longest endurance energy storage systems for electrical UAVs, fuel cells from HES have helped set new world records in the past including the NASA-backed 5kg Pterosoar UAVsystem which flew 128km in 2007.

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Courtesy: SUAS News

Amazon provides new details on its plan for a drone superhighway in the sky

When I arrived in San Jose last night, the newspaper on the front desk at the hotel had this headline splashed across the front page: “Drones Putting Lives at Risk.” At least five times this year, fire departments trying to battle wildfires in California were unable to fly their helicopters close enough to assist teams on the ground because small drones flown by ordinary citizens were in the airspace capturing footage of the blaze.

This morning, at NASA’s UTM Convention, Amazon announced details of a plan designed to solve these kinds of problems. The company laid out its vision for a multi-tiered superhighway in the sky, one in which all drones flying above 200 feet would have the ability to communicate with — and ideally sense and avoid — other aircraft. It’s an attempt to put an end to the Wild West atmosphere that has been the norm for uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) over the last five years, replacing it with a next-generation air traffic control system. It hopes to establish a basic regulatory framework and set of technical standards that manufacturers can work toward. All this would prepare the airspace for a time when thousands, even tens of thousands of drones fly over the average city delivering parcels, monitoring air quality, and handing out parking tickets.

Amazon’s proposal, which is in line with similar ideas floated by NASA and Google, would create a slow lane for local traffic below 200 feet and a fast lane for long-distance transport between 200 and 400 feet. Altitudes between 400 and 500 feet would become a no-fly zone, and anything above that is already against FAA regulations for hobbyists. While some commercial drone operators are pushing to fly large UAS above 500 feet, Amazon is avoiding that discussion for now.

Commercial aircraft are governed by FAA’s Air Traffic Control, and in Amazon’s vision, there would be a similar central command and control network that takes in data about the position of each drone and shares it with every other vehicle connected to the network. There would also be vehicle-to-vehicle communication, similar to what we are starting to see with autonomous automobiles. Access to the different layers of the airspace would be governed by how well your drone can communicate with its pilot, the command and control network, and other drones. “Everyone can have access to the airspace,” says Gur Kimchi, who heads up Amazon’s Prime Air program. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a hobbyist or a corporation. If you’ve got the right equipment, you can fly.”

If you’re operating a radio-controlled quadcopter with no internet connection, then you would be relegated to the area below 200 feet. That may rub some hobbyists the wrong way, but given that even cheap consumer drones are now connected to the internet through their apps, it seems unlikely that there will be too many UAS which fall into this category. And while complex sense and avoid (SAA) technology is not yet widespread among consumer drones, we are already seeing it appear on units like the Lily, in software from Skydio, and in developer hardware like DJI’s Matrice. If the pace of development in this area continues, sense and avoid technology will be standard on consumer drones within a few years.

Still, startups working on consumer facing drones took issue with parts of of the plan. “Amazon’s proposal to create a commercial airspace dedicated to drones is smart thinking for the future of its business proposition,” said Antoine Level, CEO of Squadrone System, the company behind the HEXO+. “The uptake of drones means that regulation will need to change to adapt; however, given the utility of personal-use application of drones, regulation must be careful not to regulate commercial use in such a way that drones become too costly to deploy and inaccessible to consumers, as this will in turn create a bar to their usage and adoption.”

In traditional air traffic control, humans have handled much of the work. But with small UAS, the number of aircraft in the sky at any given time is likely to be many times greater than the number of commercial aircraft. So Amazon is proposing we let the machines handle more of the work themselves. “Right now the standard is an aircraft that can basically fly itself, with a human at the controls to take over at anytime,” says Kimchi. “But with UAS, there won’t be a single operator for every drone. We need a lot more automation than we have with the traditional model.”

Amazon says its drones would automatically adjust their path if they are on a collision course, and also warn one another about obstacles. “I am from Seattle, there are many seagulls,” Kimchi says. “Our drone would automatically get out of the way and also alert others in the area.”

This new air traffic control system would also link UAS with traditional aircraft. If a helicopter from the fire department needed to fly low over an emergency, for example, it would be able to communicate with command and control, warning drones it was in the area, and creating a geofenced area around itself that would become a no-fly zone, as depicted in the graphic above.

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PRECISIONHAWK SIGNS UAV RESEARCH AGREEMENT WITH FAA TO ADDRESS EXTENDED VISUAL LINE OF SIGHT

PrecisionHawk will work with the FAA to develop aircraft standards and operational procedures for extended line-of-sight to identify a pathway for safe integration of drones into the National Airspace System

Raleigh, NC — PrecisionHawk has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to advance the research around unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) across rural areas. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the partnership this morning at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems Conference in Atlanta.

PrecisionHawk will be the only UAV manufacturer, joining CNN and BNSF Railway, in this partnership forged under the Pathfinder program, an operational concept validation set up by the FAA to help integrate commercial drones into the US national airspace.

“Even as we pursue our current rulemaking effort for small unmanned aircraft, we must continue to actively look for future ways to expand non-recreational UAS uses,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This new initiative involving three leading U.S. companies will help us anticipate and address the needs of the evolving UAS industry.”

The partnership will leverage PrecisionHawk’s extensive work in the global agriculture landscape to formulate a framework for various types of UAVs, fixed wing and multi-rotor, to operate in the areas of agriculture, forestry and other rural industries. Beyond this use case focus, PrecisionHawk will also test LATAS (Low Altitude Tracking & Avoidance System) its traffic management system for UAVs. Testing will include on-aircraft transponders as well as LATAS traffic management ground-based hardware and software.  By introducing an operational tracking system that works with any UAV platform, the FAA and PrecisionHawk can safely test operations beyond visual line of sight in low risk, ‘non-populated’ areas, such as farmland.

“For the commercial drone industry to achieve its maximum technological and economic potential, we need to test reliable hardware and software solutions that will address safety. We also need to provide the data that will prove that reliability to regulators and the public,” said Christopher Dean, PrecisionHawk CEO.

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AirMap Launches Free, Comprehensive Airspace Database for Unmanned Aircraft Operators

AirMap is a free, comprehensive digital map that allows unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operators to visualize the airspace around them, including areas where they may not be permitted to fly. Airspace rules are complex. AirMap removes barriers to compliance by providing the low altitude airspace information that unmanned aircraft operators need.

AirMap was cofounded by aviation expert and entrepreneur Ben Marcus and Dr. Gregory McNeal, a leading legal scholar on drones, public policy and air rights.

– See more at: http://www.uasvision.com/2015/05/01/airmap-launches-free-comprehensive-airspace-database-for-unmanned-aircraft-operators/#more-36711

Courtesy UAS Vision 

Note: Only good for the US at this stage !!

Europe Reaches Broad Consensus On Further Steps To Open RPAS Market

On 5-6 March 2015, the “Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems: Framing the future of Aviation” conference took place in Riga, Latvia. This event was organised by the Ministry of Transport of Latvia and the Civil Aviation Agency of Latvia, in cooperation with the European Commission, during the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The event was built on the orientations given in the EC Communication on opening the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) market

The event brought together the main players involved in the RPAS industry’s development in Europe (Members of the European Parliament, European Commission representatives, Directors General of civil aviation authorities of the EU Member States Data Protection Authorities and leaders of the manufacturing and service supplying industry) and found broad agreement on the main principles to guide the regulatory framework to allow civil RPAS operations throughout Europe from 2016 onwards.

These principles are summarized in the Riga Declaration on Civil RPAS (Drones), which was made public at the end of the conference by Violeta Bulc, European Union (EU) Commissioner for Mobility and Transport, in the presence of Margus Rahuoja, Director for Aviation and International Transport Affairs, Directorate General Mobility and Transport, European Commission. The UVS International delegation attending the conference consisted of 25 persons, representing the national RPAS associations in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, as well as various other association members.

“The aviation manufacturing industry, the potential users of the remotely piloted aircraft systems, and also public authorities understand that promoting affordable civil RPAS is a project of great opportunity for the European economy. The benefits of the development of the services provided by RPAS will be enjoyed by a vast range of European citizens through new jobs and innovative services. Therefore Member States will have to immediately take on the work on the regulation of RPAS in order to bring more certainty on how the RPAS industry should develop.

In order to plan the investments, the industry has to see clearly what the requirements are that manufacturers and operators have to meet. At the same time, society must be certain that their fundamental rights to privacy and data protection are respected,” pointed out Anrijs Matīss, Minister for Transport of Latvia.

Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Mobility and Transport said: “Drones are the talk of the year, which is why we’ve come together in Riga, to find out how we, as a society want to live with drones. Of course we cannot adopt new rules and regulations here today. It will take some time. But we have made our intentions clear in the “Riga Declaration on Civil RPAS (Drones)”.

On one hand, industry needs to know which direction the rules are going to make investment decisions. On the other, citizens need to know how we’ll uphold their safety, security and fundamental rights, for them to accept that drones will become more common in their daily lives. As regulators, we have a clear responsibility to address these issues – society expects nothing less from us. I am convinced that this conference has made a great contribution to this objective and that we’ve moved one step closer towards allowing drone operations everywhere in Europe — from 2016 onwards.”

Courtesy UAS Vision

 

Drone No-Fly Zone for Homeowners

A California-based company is trying to give American homeowners a way to protect their privacy from drones ahead of flight regulations from the federal government. 

NoFlyZone has launched a global database where private residents can register their property as a no-drone fly area.

How it works: residents enter their address in an online database on NoFlyZone.org and create a virtual barrier, or geo-fence, around their property. Drone companies participating in NoFlyZone’s consortium then honor the request for privacy.

In the next 10 years, company CEO Ben Marcus expects drones to be used as commonly as cellphones, but he said the ever-advancing technology comes with legitimate privacy concerns.

“[The Federal Aviation Administration] does a tremendous job of managing safety, but it’s never had privacy as a mandate,” he said. “This is an issue our industry wants to take on and solve using the technology we have available to us rather than regulation.”

The company said seven manufacturers and suppliers — EHANG, DroneDeploy, YUNEEC, HEXO+, PixiePath, RCFlyMaps and Horizon Hobby — have already agreed to honour requests and create exclusion zones.

“We can be self regulating on this issue,” Marcus said. “We already have the technology to create geofence exclusion zones like the one around White House, but now we’re expanding that technology to private property.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/L-eBT69QEOg[/youtube]

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Courtesy: UAS Vision

 

Skycatch partners with one of the largest and most innovative heavy machinery makers, Komatsu.

Komatsu, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of heavy machinery for construction and mining and the first company to commercialize the Autonomous Haul System, announced plans to integrate Skycatch’s autonomous aerial data capture solution into their construction business. First announced at a press release in  Shibuya-ku, Tokyo today, Komatsu’s Smart Construction branch will leverage Skycatch’s fully autonomous UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) solution and sophisticated data analytics tools to operate safer, cheaper, and smarter than ever before.

This partnership is a significant milestone for the global construction industry in moving forward with automation fueled by data.

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Source – Skycatch Blog

 

The exciting potential for sensors and drones to combat global hunger

January 27

In 2013, I made my first trip to Ethiopia. Knowing a bit about the country’s economic circumstances, I fully expected the grim poverty that I’d later encounter. After all, like millions of Americans, I watched the devastating famine there unfold on television in the 1980s.

At the same time, Ethiopia has made great strides since then. Ethiopia halved the number of its undernourished people from 75 percent to 35 percent in two decades, according to the United Nations. Still, that 35 percent is considerable – the U.N.’s World Food Programme estimates that3.2 million Ethiopians need food relief assistance.

So imagine my surprise when I entered a restroom in a small town outside Addis, the capital, and found sensorized urinals – the kind that self-flush. I don’t normally notice urinals, but in Ethiopia, where electricity and indoor plumbing are unreliable at best, sensorized urinals catch your attention. To find something as relatively advanced as a sensorized machine in a small Ethiopian town doesn’t necessarily say much about the country; but it says a lot about the machine.

In particular, it illustrates the potential of sensors and how they could hold the key to significantly reducing the world’s hunger problem. Sensors are everywhere and in everything, at least in developed nations such as the United States. They’ve revolutionized our mobile phones, and are now powering the next wave of wearable tech devices. Sensors are the reason the automotive industry is poised to deliver a driverless car.

The best thing about sensors, aside from their potential? They’re dirt cheap. The average smartphone holds five to seven sensors that cost about $5 combined. In 2007, an accelerometer, which comes standard in all smartphones today, cost $7 — now it costs less than 50 cents. The steep price decline, which has been in place since the early 1990s, is a function of strong competition in the smartphone arena and the growing number of applications using sensor technology. But nothing mandates that sensors are for smartphones only.

Which brings us back to Ethiopia. Now that you see how cheap sensors are today, the notion that a small, dusty town in Ethiopia can afford a sensorized urinal doesn’t seem all that remarkable. But let’s take this one step further. Sensorized devices are multiplying across every sector of the economy. Heavy industry uses sensors to increase productivity. Airplanes employ sensors in their “fly-by-wire” systems. Physicians can prescribe digestible sensors to monitor and wirelessly transmit biometric data.

According to the Digital Universe report from the International Data Corporation, the total number of “connectable things” – everyday objects that can be linked to the Internet – in the world is around 200 billion. Of those, about 20 billion are actually wired and talking to the Internet right now. They’re able to do so through a network of roughly 50 billion sensors that track, monitor and feed data to those connected devices. And the IDC estimates that by 2020, the number of connected things will increase by 50 percent to 30 billion, while the network of sensors will number in the trillions.

So, what does this have to do with solving the global food crisis? There’s enough food in the world to feed every person on the earth, yet through a combination of inefficiencies, supply-chain obstacles and oppressive government regulation, hundreds of millions of people are undernourished. Indeed, many food shortages arise because of misallocation of information. Suppliers of food are unaware of shortages and unaware of market prices. I’ve heard stories of food rotting on African farms only miles away from desolate starvation.

Equipping food-supply material such as storage containers, warehouses and shelves with sensors allows us to know instantly the moment a shortage exists. And I mean instantly in the literal sense. With sensors, we don’t need to wait for a person to count hundreds of containers to realize that there won’t be enough food for the community –a time-consuming process that too often doesn’t happen anyway. Sensors help remove those layers of inefficiency, shortening data’s transmission chain, skipping potential inhibitors and triggering faster response times.

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DuBravac is the chief economist at the Consumer Electronics Association and the author of the book, “Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate” (Regnery, 2015). Follow him on Twitter

Courtesy: Washington Post

Germany creates laws for driverless cars

The German transport minister will be laying down legal guidelines for the use of driverless cars on the country’s autobahns.

Alexander Dobrindt said driverless or robot cars would probably become a feature on German roads within a few years, but insisted that some rules needed to be in place first.

He has created a committee including figures from research, industry and politics, to draw up a legal framework that would make it permissible and would like a draft of key points to be ready before the Frankfurt car fair in September.

Current rules do not allow self-drive or robot cars on German roads, because a human being always has to be at the controls, according to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic to which Germany is signed up, along with 72 other countries.

Questions to be clarified include who would be responsible when the car’s computer fails causing an accident, how is a robot car is to be insured and how licences should be regulated?

A few days ago Dobrindt announced he was designating a stretch of Germany’s busy A9 autobahn in Bavaria for testing robot car prototypes.

Director of Unmanned Systems Australia, Mr Phil Swinsburg in Google's 'driverless' car recently.
Director of Unmanned Systems Australia, Mr Phil Swinsburg in Google’s ‘driverless’ car recently.

The German car industry has been working on driverless cars for years and expects the first commercially available models to be introduced by 2020.

But the industry has become nervous about competing technology from Google, leading to a campaign within industry and politics in Germany to remain independent but ahead of the field. Nevertheless, the competition appears to be keeping everyone in the industry on their toes.

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Courtesy The Guardian

See related Articles:

UK pass laws for testing driverless Cars

Googles Driverless Cars

Driverless cars transform safety and mobility

 

 

 

 

A drone boost for a Canadian Arctic icebreaker and cargo ship

OTTAWA—Even for the world’s biggest icebreaker, the best way through Arctic ice is to go around it.

There’s an art to navigating an obstacle course of ice floes thick enough to smash a hole in a steel hull.

Experienced seamen know how to suss out the softer spots. They watch for young ice, the spongy white floes that haven’t had several years to compress and harden into an Arctic mariner’s worst nightmare.

In daylight, old hands swear they can see the multi-year ice ahead from its distinct blue colour.

What icebreaker captains crave are leads, the stretches of water that open up between floes when warmer weather or heavy storms fracture swaths of sea ice.

The best way to see those lanes in real time is from the air, which is why Coast Guard icebreakers carry helicopters that fly reconnaissance missions.

As more private vessels take a run at Canada’s Northwest Passage, most radio the Coast Guard for updates on where to find the best leads. When mariners get stuck, they call for an icebreaker to free them, at taxpayer expense.

The Canadian owners of MV Nunavik, a bulk carrier built last year to haul nickel through the Arctic, think they’ve got a better idea.

The MV Nunavik is the world’s largest icebreaker but still needs help to navigate ice in Canada’s North. That’s where drones come in.

They are experimenting with small drones, much like the ones popular with hobby flyers, to give the captain an aerial view of hazards that lie ahead.

Aided by a high-resolution camera mounted on a drone, Nunavik Capt. Randy Rose and his crew steered her into the record books in October, when she became the first bulk carrier to transit the Northwest Passage without an escort.

The vessel carried 23,000 tons of nickel concentrate from Deception Bay, on Hudson Strait, to Bayuquan, a port on China’s Bohai Sea coast, east of Beijing.

At 188.8 metres (619 feet) long, with five cargo holds and three deck cranes, the Nunavik is bigger than any other icebreaker in the world, says Tom Paterson, a senior vice-president of Fednav, Canada’s largest owner of ocean-going, dry-bulk ships.

The Nunavik was built in Japan’s Marine United Corp. shipyards to work a 20-year contract for the Chinese-owned mining company Canadian Royalties Inc.

Read More  Courtesy  The star.com

But this is not the first time for UAVs in the Ice

The Schiebel S-100 CAMCOPTER has been operating with the Russian Coast Guard for over 18 months in the Arctic Circle.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoAh8zIvBCg&list=UUzkzyW7tLx61DVIq3w-qoww[/youtube]

With an endurance of 6 hours as standard or 10 hours with an external fuel tank for the S100 CAMCOPTER, I am not too sure how long the Li-Po batteries in the small quad copters mentioned in the article above would last in the Arctic Circle !! 5 -10 minutes max .