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Tweet This Week in the Unmanned Systems and Robotics World The Boeing Company has been selected by DARPA to “complete advanced design work for the Agency’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program.” The XS-1 program seeks to build and fly a new class of hypersonic aircraft that would provide short-notice, low-cost access to space, which in turn would bolster national security. The goal is for the aircraft to be reusable and unmanned, to be able to takeoff vertically like a rocket, and fly to hypersonic speeds. ( DARPA ) Roborace’s Robocar has become the first driverless car to hit the streets of Paris, specifically the city streets of Formula E’s Paris ePrix. During a demonstration in front of the crowds at Les Invalides in the French capital, the Robocar managed to navigate itself around 14 turns of the 1.9km circuit, using nothing but autonomous software. The vehicle is able to drive itself thanks to being equipped with five lidars, two radars, 18 ultrasonic sensors, two optical speed sensors, six AI cameras, and GNSS positioning. The vehicle is powered by “Nvidia’s Drive PX2 brain, capable of up to 24 trillion A.I. operations per second to be programmed by teams’ software engineers using complex algorithms.” ( Roborace ) Recently, shortly before storms formed in northern Oklahoma, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used three UAS to fly hundreds of feet above the ground to observe crucial changes in the atmosphere that could spawn severe thunderstorms. The flights are a part of research known as Environmental Profiling & Initiation of Convection (EPIC), which is the first step in proving the “value of pilotless aircraft to provide important atmospheric clues that can significantly enhance data gathered by satellites, radars, manned aircraft and ground-observing stations.” The NOAA says that UAS equipped with miniaturized, high-precision, and fast-response atmospheric sensors can provide scientists with important information such as detailed profiles of temperature, moisture and wind, which can help improve the accuracy of short-term forecasts just hours before several weather events occur. ( NOAA ) After clinching the regional championship title, a UAS team from East Long Beach’s Sato Academy of Mathematics and Science will compete in the national championship of the UAS4Stem challenge. The UAS4Stem challenge requires teams to “assemble and build the frame of the drone, solder the power system and configure the electronic components into a working quadcopter.” Made up of five students, the Sato Drone Team will compete for the national title in August in Muncie, Indiana. ( Long Beach Post ) According to the Russian News Agency, a unit of UAS from the Eastern Military District’s Amur River valley is being used to track potential fires and floods. The UAS, called Orlan-10, are used to check over 1,000 square kilometers on a daily basis, with a special focus on “the most endangered areas where floods or forest fires are possible.” Equipped with infrared sensitive cameras, the Orlan-10 UAS can quickly detect small fires, as well as large ones. ( TASS ) << Back to the News Photo Courtesy of DARPA << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   On May 23, Connecticut’s state Senate voted in favor of Senate Bill 260 , which would establish a pilot program for the testing of autonomous vehicles, and create a task force that would establish policies and routes for these vehicles on roads that were not originally designed to have these types of vehicles on them. The testing of these vehicles would take place in four Connecticut municipalities. The city of Stamford would automatically be one of those testing grounds, being that the proposal says that one of the cities must have had a population of 120,000 to 124,000 in the 2010 U.S. Census. Stamford is the only city that meets that criteria. The bill, which needs approval by the state House of Representatives and a signature by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy before it is enacted, was sponsored by state Sen. Carlo Leone.  Through the Stamford Advocate , Leone says, “we actually have the ability to participate and not be blindsided by this technology. Protecting people’s interests and allowing innovation to occur can only help Stamford.” Leone adds, “this technology is moving at such a rapid clip and it’s going to be disruptive. We wanted to establish the framework first and then allow the technology to thrive within the framework.” According to Stamford’s director of economic development, Thomas Madden, several groups have expressed interest in testing their autonomous technology in the city, mainly because of the city’s size, geographic diversity and proximity to New York City. Madden describes the city of Stamford as an “ideal candidate for future testing.” Driverless vehicles will not be allowed in Connecticut until the task force submits its report by January 2019. << Back to
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Tweet Early on the morning of May 24, the Northrop Grumman-manufactured RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS became the first unmanned aircraft to land at Robins Air Force Base in Houston County, Georgia, after departing from Beale Air Force Base in California on the afternoon of May 23.  The historic landing of the Global Hawk at Robins is also the first time that this type of aircraft has flown to any Air Force Air Logistics Complex.  The early morning landing was a result of a no-fly zone that was established for other aircraft during the time of the landing. The aircraft, which flew nonstop to Robins, was flown remotely by a pilot at Beale, but Robins has established the capability to control the UAS at its base. While at Robins, the UAS will receive a new paint job. Via an article from Macon.com , Tim Davis, a journeyman painter who went to California to get special training to paint the aircraft, says that the aircraft needs a new paint job because the leading edges of the wing have areas of chipped off paint, which cause drag on the aircraft, leading to less efficiency. Davis had to receive special training on how to paint the aircraft because “the aircraft requires a special type and method of painting that is different from any other aircraft that the base maintains,” according to Roland Leach, base spokesman. The Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS equipped with an integrated sensor suite that provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. With a wingspan of 131 feet, the Global Hawk can fly over 60,000 feet, while staying in the air for 30 hours. << Back to the News Photo by Tommie Horton, Courtesy of U.S. Air Force photos << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   Aeryon Labs provided its SkyRanger small UAS to help rapidly and safely assess the damage caused by an EF-2 tornado that took place in Elk City, Oklahoma on May 16.  The SkyRanger UAS was used to collect more than one hour of high definition video and georeferenced still imagery over the tornado’s damage. Representatives from Aeryon Labs and Textron Systems Unmanned Systems’ Civil & Commercial team traveled more than 100 miles to the impact site of the tornado to provide full-motion video in real-time to the Emergency Operations Center in Oklahoma City and the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma. Thanks to the AeryonLive Video & Telemetry technology, which “streams live video, images and aircraft telemetry from the SkyRanger sUAS across a secure bonded cellular network connection,” Oklahoma’s regional Emergency Operations Centers were able to receive the real-time video feed directly, and the National Weather Service also received a live broadcast of the video as well. “We are honored that our technology and personnel could play a part in the disaster response effort in Oklahoma,” says Aeryon Labs’ CEO Bill McHale . Dennis Racine, Textron Systems Senior Director of Sales and Marketing of Civil & Commercial Products, says, “it is difficult for first-responders to quickly assess the damage after a tornado impact due to downed powerlines and other debris.” “However, with our support, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management was able to rapidly and safely assess the damage to determine what types of resources were needed to help those in Elk City.” << Back to
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Tweet The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) in Athens, Alabama will now begin implementing UAS into their daily operations, after receiving a Certificate of Authorization (COA) from the FAA. The FAA, in coordination with the local Air Traffic Organization (ATO) at Huntsville International Airport, issued the COA, which authorizes the LCSO to operate UAS within Limestone County, as well as in surrounding areas. The LCSO received support from Huntsville, Alabama-based Avion Unmanned, which is a commercial branch of Avion Solutions, Inc. Avion Unmanned provided officers and deputies within the department with training on how to become FAA-compliant, legal, and safe UAS operators. Avion Unmanned also helped develop the operating procedures of the agency, as well as the COA requests. Taylor Abington, Avion’s UAS Program Manager, says, “the only way to be effective with a tool is to be properly trained in how to use it.” “Avion launched our unmanned division specifically to ensure agencies like emergency management and law enforcement are properly trained to operate UAS legally, effectively, and most importantly, safely.” The UAS can be used for a variety of tasks, including lifesaving missions involving the search for missing people, and the monitoring of situations where a hazardous condition exists. The UAS can also be used to gather information on a location before a search warrant is issued, or to help locate an inmate that has possibly escaped. “These aerial systems give us several advantages in those types of situations,” says Stephen Young, public information officer for the sheriff's office. While talking to Huntsville’s WHNT News 19, Young continues, “they give us better decision-making ability. Obviously, if you know what you're dealing with, the more you know about it without having to put men and women in uniform in the way of possible threats, then you make better decisions. Primarily, the mission is to save lives.” The department will use a DJI Phantom 3 UAS and a PSI Tactical InstantEye UAS. << Back to the News Photo Courtesy of Avion Unmanned << Back
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Tweet There’s no excuse for boring home videos anymore, as long as you have $499 to pony up for DJI’s latest consumer drone, the hand-launched, gesture-controlled Spark. DJI unveiled the highly anticipated Spark at a “Seize the Moment” event at New York City’s Grand Central Station. Michael Perry, director of strategic partnerships for the company, said Spark is controlled “by the simplest control interface we could think of, and it’s not your phone.” It is, instead, your palm. An operator can direct the drones up-and-down and side-to-side motion using an outstretched palm, direct the aircraft to land by waving both hands, and even snap a selfie by making a box-shaped motion with their fingers. “It’s that simple to control, and it totally feels like magic,” Perry said. Other consumer drones have also featured gesture control, but sometimes require external hardware to do it, or cost considerably more than the Spark. DJI’s app allows the Spark to conduct a series of complicated flight patterns, such as flying in a spiral while keeping the camera trained on its subject, or looking down while zooming up. Using the Quick Shots command, it flies for a minute and then edits the resulting footage down to a 10-second clip suitable for sharing. Spark flies at speeds up to 31mph for up to 16 minutes of flight time, features quick-swap batteries and can also be charged via a mini-USB port. Its onboard processing includes obstacle avoidance and DJI’s geofencing system that keeps users from flying where they shouldn’t.  The Spark weighs just over the cutoff requiring registration of the vehicle with the Federal Aviation Administration, although a federal court has just ruled that registration doesn’t apply to hobbyist drones. Blogger Julien Solomita also took the stage to share his experience using the Spark as a beta tester, including filming indoor footage of his jujitsu practice. He also taught his mother to control the drone in less than a minute by using hand gestures. “Flying a drone, today, just became a whole lot less intimidating for a lot of people,” he said. Pre-orders for Spark begin today at $499, or $699 with an accessories kit, with shipments expected in June. << Back to the News A DJI employee demonstrates gesture control of the new Spark consumer drone. << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   In June, crews at the Springfield Beckley Municipal Airport in Clark County, Ohio will begin installing a new radar that would allow an air traffic controller looking at the special radar on the ground in a trailer to guide UAS operators, while air traffic controllers in the tower would continue to focus on planes. The $5 million bill for the radar will be paid for by the Air Force and the state of Ohio. Both entities hope that the “first-of-its-kind testing” of the radar will lead to FAA approval for beyond line of sight (BLOS) flight.  According to an article from WOSU Radio , the Air Force is expected to receive approval from the FAA within six to nine months, with Ohio’s application expected to follow. If Ohio receives approval, private companies such as Amazon would be able to begin testing in Springfield. Wright Patterson Air Force research lab deputy director Art Huber believes that the radar will be a big boost for safety, as he says, “now knowing where they are and the vectors in space, what space they are going, what direction they are going, the operator can now tell the pilot in charge of a small UAV, ‘Hey, you have an airplane such and such distance from you. Why don't you turn in a new direction or airspeed or new altitude or whatever in order to stay away or avoid a collision?’” Current rules require UAS to "fly with visual line of sight, or an unobstructed path between the vehicle and the controller," which means at the Springfield airport, there is seven nautical square miles’ worth of flying space. But with BLOS flight capabilities, that range increases to 200 miles and an altitude of up to 10,000 feet. << Back to
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Tweet On May 23, AUVSI President and CEO Brian Wynne told members of Congress that for UAS to continue to be integrated into the airspace — and become a normal part of society for tasks such as package deliveries — it will take a team effort between the FAA, the government and industry to make sure that these systems operate in a safe and effective manner. “The UAS industry is primed for incredible growth, thanks to industry representatives and government regulators nurturing innovation that helps businesses be competitive in the marketplace,” Wynne said. “We hope that these efforts can be sustained and that we continue to reach new historic milestones in integrating this technology into the national airspace and pave the way for regular and widespread UAS deliveries.” Wynne testified in a hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, focused on product and package delivery, and how technology, such as unmanned systems, could be leveraged to deliver goods quickly and safely to consumers. He was a part of a four-witness panel, which included Bastian Lehmann, founder and CEO of Postmates; Harry Holzer, John LaFarge Jr. S.J. professor of public policy at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University; and Shyam Chidamber, chief evangelist and senior advisor at drone delivery company Flirtey. During his testimony at the beginning of the hearing, Wynne spoke about the impact that UAS are having on society, and the impact that unmanned systems can have going forward in the future. “From inspecting pipelines to newsgathering to mapping flood zones, UAS help save time, save money and, most importantly, save lives,” Wynne said. “It is no wonder why thousands of businesses – small and large – have already embraced this technology, and many more are considering integrating it into their future operations.” Wynne and the other witnesses were each given five minutes to deliver their statements. After delivering their statements, the witnesses were asked questions by Chairman Bob Latta, Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky, and other members of the subcommittee, on issues regarding the use of unmanned systems for deliveries. Some of the questions specifically addressed to Wynne surrounded the societal and economic benefits of using commercial drones, and privacy concerns surrounding the use of UAS commercially, and by individuals. On the subject of societal and economic benefits, Wynne touched on unmanned aircraft being used for inspections, and the safety that they provide by taking humans out of harm’s way. Jobs that would have previously required humans to do things such as climb towers can now be done using drones, allowing humans to execute these jobs safely from the ground. In regards to privacy concerns, Wynne said that it was important to come up with guidelines for the industry that could be used to emphasize privacy. Specifically, in regards to drone deliveries, Wynne pointed out that data collected during these flights needs to be protected so that privacy, in turn, is protected. With the individual use of UAS, Wynne said that it is important to educate people on the safe and responsible flight of UAS, to make sure that people don’t annoy their fellow citizens, and that they stay within the law. << Back to the News << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   A startup company in Singapore called OTSAW Digital has released its four-wheeled security robot, named O-R3, which includes a drone that can be launched after intruders. Because of its “drone-in-robot design,” the O-R3's range can extend significantly in comparison to the typical ground-based autonomous robot, giving the O-R3 capabilities that ordinary security robots wouldn’t have. “[If] you have obstacles on the ground, we can launch a drone that has an aerial view of where the intruder is hiding, maybe on the other side of the wall, on the fence, or the gate, stuff like that,” says Ling Ting Ming, CEO of OTSAW Digital and its parent company ActiV Technology, through an article with Mashable . Thanks to being powered by data, the O-R3 has a number of unique features. It can differentiate people and determine if they are an employee, regular visitor or intruder. It can also recognize suspicious objects such as unattended bags, and it can activate security by sending an alarm to a forward command center. “The more data we feed the robot, the more it learns,” says Ling. “For a start, we will look at quite basic stuff ... if a bag is unattended for five minutes it triggers an alarm. We can classify who is an employee, who is an intruder.” Ling continues, “there will be false positives [but] as the machine learns, it gets sharper.” From May 23-25, the company will unveil an outdoor version of the robot during CommunicAsia2017. The outdoor version of the robot is the size of a golf buggy, and has a range of three miles. The company is currently developing an indoor version of the robot, which will be smaller, and won’t include 3D LIDAR sensors or the UAS. While some may think these robots will eventually replace humans, Ling does not see that happening. Instead, he believes that the robots will free humans up to handle more difficult tasks. “I definitely feel like humans cannot be replaced,” Ling says. “The robots are just here to complement the humans, but humans should do something more ... of [higher] skills.” << Back to
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 23, 2017 Contact: Tom McMahon, tmcmahon@auvsi.org , (571) 255-7786 AUVSI: Clear Regulatory Framework, Collaboration Necessary for UAS Deliveries Testimony before House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee urges FAA, stakeholders to make advancement of unmanned systems a national imperative WASHINGTON — At a hearing today by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), discussed the steps necessary to make unmanned aircraft system (UAS) deliveries more commonplace. “Technology is advancing at lightning speed, especially in the realm of UAS,” Wynne said in his testimony. “Our industry stands to create enormous economic value for the country. UAS deliveries are not held back by innovation, imagination or technology, but by a lack of regulatory clarity.” Last August, the FAA finalized its small UAS rule, also known as Part 107, paving the way for anyone who follows the rules to fly UAS for commercial purposes. The FAA expects more than 400,000 UAS could be flying for commercial purposes over the next five years – a more than six-fold increase from today. Recognizing the need for the rule to be flexible in order to foster innovation, Part 107 also created a waiver process that allows for certain expanded operations with FAA approval. “An economic analysis by AUVSI projects that the expansion of UAS technology will create more than 100,000 jobs and generate more than $82 billion to the economy in the first decade following full integration in to the national airspace,” Wynne added. “After witnessing the growth of the industry over the last few years and now with Part 107 in place, these figures will likely go higher under the right conditions and once we achieve full integration.” Wynne also called for additional industry-government collaboration and for the government to invest in emerging UAS technology to take advantage of the economic benefits that are enabled by expanded operations, such as deliveries. “We need a new national imperative in unmanned systems that, like the air traffic control system and interstate highway system before it, creates greater capacity, reduces road congestion, fulfills consumer demand and facilitates the future of commerce,” Wynne said. “Industry is bringing the technology; government needs to do more to support it and advance innovations such as delivery services.” Wynne’s full testimony is attached. # # # About AUVSI The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics — represents more than 7,500 members from more than 60 countries involved in the fields of government, industry and academia. AUVSI members work in the defense, civil and commercial markets. For more information, visit A
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Tweet by AUVSI News   Singapore has joined a 15-member group established by the United Nations' civil aviation arm to create global rules and regulations for the safe use of unmanned aircraft, including UAS. Formed in 2016, the group is made up of eight countries including the United States, China and France. The global pilots' association is also a part of the group as well. Last December, the group developed an online toolkit made up of information on unmanned aircraft and how the systems can safely be operated, and they provided the toolkit to aviation authorities and regulators.  Next, the group hopes to develop a more comprehensive global framework that will address the concerns of pilots and other stakeholders.  In an article with the Straits Times , the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), whom during AUVSI’s Xponential 2017 announced a request for information on traffic management systems for UAS, says, “in the near future, an overhead drone delivery or even a flying taxi may enter your daily life.” “It's in everyone's interest to determine sooner rather than later how and where they can safely operate, so as to minimize all related noise and privacy concerns.” The ICAO also says that “the sooner this framework is agreed upon internationally, the sooner the industry will be able to align their developing UAS businesses within harmonized systems.” In Singapore, which is an “active member” of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Advisory Group according to a spokesman for the ICAO, rules for flying UAS became stricter a few years ago. Generally speaking, unmanned systems that are heavier than seven kilograms require a permit for flying, while lighter UAS need approval to be flown if they “are operated for business purposes or within restricted zones.” The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) says that since June 2015, more than 2,300 applications for permits have been received, with more than 80% of those permits being for the purposes of aerial photography, videography, surveillance or inspections. << Back to
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Tweet by AUVSI News   Over the course of two days starting on May 19, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano used a Flyability UAS to explore the caverns under Sicily. What makes this UAS so unique is that it was used to purposely bump into its surroundings, in order to learn how to navigate and map tight areas that are too dangerous for humans. “The drone used its thermal camera to map how the cave continued all the way to an unexplored area featuring water, impossible to reach for humans,” says ESA’s course coordinator, Francesco Sauro . “These tests will help us understand which technologies can be used in future exploration of lava tubes on Mars, for example.” For many years, ESA has been testing equipment, techniques and working methods for missions with astronauts in inner space. Traveling to the depths of the earth and exploring caves is similar to the experience of exploring outer space according to the ESA, as both situations have a lack of sunlight, and there is a limited amount of space to work in, which makes relying on equipment for safety that much more important. This expedition, which is an extension of ESA’s Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behavior and performance Skills course, resulted in Parmitano joining a scientific expedition organized by La Venta Association and the Commissione Grotte Eugenio Boegan in the La Cucchiara caves near Sciacca, Sicily. Course designer Loredana Bessone says, “we now want astronauts to take part in existing scientific caving and geological expeditions – scientific exploration does not get more real than this.” ESA believes that humans and robots can work together “to explore and build settlements on planetary bodies,” and improve the understanding of human’s origins, as well as the origins of life in the Solar System. The expedition ended with a conference on May 22, that focused on the “use of novel technologies in underground exploration and scientific research of extreme environments at the University of Palermo in Sicily.” << Back to
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Tweet Since its launch just over a year ago, 3D Robotics’ Site Scan has been used as a UAS data platform for AEC professionals across the globe. Established firms such as PCL Construction, Kimley-Horn, and McKim & Creed have all used the Site Scan on their respective job sites, and the technology has helped them with a variety of tasks such as designing new bridges, surveying inaccessible terrain, and building artificial lagoons. In May, 3D Robotics announced the release of its all new Site Scan Manager 3.0 , which is a web application. Described as the “the best Site Scan yet,” 3D Robotics has highlighted four major improvements to the latest version of the Site Scan Manager. Firstly, 3D Robotics says that the new Site Scan Manager has a simple, intuitive interface. After redesigning the interface to make the Manager simpler and easier to use, version 3.0 offers “improved workflows for accessing your project and job lists, toolbar, and sidebar.” 3D Robotics says that it is easier than ever for users to manage their jobs, add annotations, and more. Next, the new version of Site Scan Manager allows users to go back in time without issue, as users can easily navigate to any job and “watch as the orthomosaic transitions seamlessly from one date to another.” After that, it just takes a simple click to add CAD overlays, zoom in on details, and more. Volumes can now be measured directly within the Site Scan Manager, after a UAS flies over a user’s aggregates in just minutes. This eliminates the time, danger and cost of measuring stockpiles by foot. All a user has to do is tap around their area of interest, and the Manager will automatically “calculate volumes in cubic meters and cubic yards” using 3D Robotics’ lowest point method. 3D Robotics says that this process makes earthworks projects simpler than ever before, as this is a fast, accurate way of managing resources for users. Finally, the Site Scan Manager 3.0 allows users to quickly share orthomosaic, overlay, or measurements, thanks to the new PDF export feature, which allows users to download the information they need, and easily send that information to their team and other stakeholders. These are just some of the main features of the Site Scan Manager 3.0. 3D Robotics will be announcing other improvements very soon. << Back to the News Photo Courtesy of 3D Robotics << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   In response to a call for help from the Unidad Nacional para la Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres (UNGRD), GlobalMedic’s RescUAV team and Aeryon Labs Inc. recently worked together to provide emergency UAS services in Mocoa, Colombia, in partnership with local emergency response organizations. GlobalMedic’s RescUAV team and Aeryon Labs used a generator, two Aeryon SkyRanger UAS, a laptop, and Pix4D’s Pix4Dmapper Pro to map over 200 hectares, and in the process, accompany emergency task forces, capture imagery and video, and generate 3D maps in the field, which made it possible to assess terrain conditions on the go. Faced with operating in a disaster zone with adverse terrain, and limited power and data access, the entities were more than adequately prepared for the challenges they faced, especially with the technology from Pix4D. “Throughout the mission, we relied heavily upon Pix4Dmapper Pro to provide orthomosaics and 3D models of our flight data for UNGRD and the other responding agencies, like Corpoamazonia and IDIGER,” says Brett Simms, RescUAV Team Lead .  To help address the issue of limited data connectivity, RescUAV got help from Pix4D’s Paul Spaur, who had experience working on a law enforcement helicopter, and as a paramedic in search and rescue missions. Speaking of his experiences using Pix4D's technologies during emergency response to help aid GlobalMedic’s efforts, Spaur says: “There is incredible use in generating fast, and actionable maps during a disaster response. Incident Command can define areas of interest as .kml files, and disseminate them to multiple field crews.” Spaur continues, “the crews can import their areas into Pix4Dcapture, fly a drone autonomously, and capture data. They can then move the images from the drone to a field laptop, and rely on the fully offline (and secure) processing capability of Pix4Dmapper Pro to make maps that can save lives.” According to Pix4D, the maps were also used by local authorities to "quantify and manage critical infrastructure damage, identify areas that stood at risk of future floods and landslides and plan actions and infrastructure to allow displaced populations to safely return home." << Back to
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Tweet by AUVSI News   PBS Engineering and Environmental has created a new UAS division for surveying, engineering and aerial data collection. With services that already include engineering, environmental, and natural resource consulting for public and private clients, the Portland-based engineering firm is now using UAS to create survey-controlled orthomosaics (geo-referenced aerial maps for planimetrics), which supplement traditional topographic survey methods. That data can be used to generate 3D surface meshes, contour lines, and 3D models, without having to make additional visits to the field. “We’re particularly excited about the three-dimensional capabilities,” says Derrick Westoby , leader of the UAS program. “Not only does this allow us to create 3D models of project sites digitally, but we’re able to use color 3D printers to create physical, tactile models.” The firm is also using UAS to conduct virtual inspections and site visits of difficult-to-access areas, making visual assessments easier in those areas. “We can reduce the risk to field staff by conducting inspections of cliffsides, bridges and towers from the safety of the ground – and at a fraction of the time and cost,” Westoby says. << Back to
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2017 Contact: Tom McMahon, tmcmahon@auvsi.org , (571) 255-7786 AUVSI STATEMENT ON U.S. COURT OF APPEALS DECISION ON UAS REGISTRATION ARLINGTON, Va. — Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), today issued the following statement on the U.S. Court of Appeals decision striking down the FAA’s rule for registering recreational unmanned aircraft systems (UAS): “AUVSI is disappointed with the decision today by the U.S. Court of Appeals to reject the FAA’s rule for registering recreational unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). A UAS registration system is important to promote accountability and responsibility by users of the national airspace, and helps create a culture of safety that deters careless and reckless behavior. We plan to work with Congress on a legislative solution that will ensure continued accountability across the entire aviation community, both manned and unmanned." # # # About AUVSI The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics — represents more than 7,500 members from more than 60 countries involved in the fields of government, industry and academia. AUVSI members work in the defense, civil and commercial markets. For more information, visit A
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Tweet by AUVSI News   On May 19, the U.S. Court of Appeals determined that hobbyist UAS owners will no longer have to register their unmanned systems with the Federal Aviation Administration, potentially reversing a practice that has been in place for more than a year. A three-judge panel determined that a final rule issued by the FAA in December 2015 requiring UAS owners to register their aircraft like manned aircraft directly contradicted another rule that was already in place from 2012. The rule that was in place from 2012 comes from section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which states that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” In that same section, a model aircraft is defined as “an unmanned aircraft that is (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.” In an opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, he says, “statutory interpretation does not get much simpler. The Registration Rule is unlawful as applied to model aircraft.” AUVSI President and CEO Brian Wynne issued the following statement after the ruling: “AUVSI is disappointed with the decision today by the U.S. Court of Appeals to reject the FAA’s rule for registering recreational unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). A UAS registration system is important to promote accountability and responsibility by users of the national airspace, and helps create a culture of safety that deters careless and reckless behavior. We plan to work with Congress on a legislative solution that will ensure continued accountability across the entire aviation community, both manned and unmanned.” Wynne served on the panel that created the drone registration, along with other industry representatives and representatives of hobbyist UAS aviators. The Academy of Model Aeronautics, which also had a representative on the panel, had opposed registration for hobbyist drone owners. The AMA said in a statement on its website that it is reviewing the new ruling. << Back to
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Tweet by AUVSI News   According to CBS Denver , Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign a bill that would allow driverless vehicles to be tested on the roads in the state, after state lawmakers gave the bill the green light. The bill would permit the vehicles to be tested on Colorado roads, as long as they follow the rules of the road, or receive special permission from State Patrol and CDOT. Legislation bars local governments from setting different standards. “All this bill says is, as this technology develops, we’re going to treat these cars just like any other car,” says Rep. Owen Hill, who sponsored the bill. When speaking about the potential benefits of the vehicles, Hill says, “there’s a commercial for a car that can parallel park itself. Think about how much anxiety that takes away from folks like my grandmother.” All in all, Hill is excited about the potential that this technology could have in the state. “It’s amazing how quickly this is evolving. And because it moves so quickly, we want to make sure that state regulation doesn’t get in the way and prevent these things before they have the chance to actually improve people’s lives.” << Back to
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Weekend Roundup

Tweet Insitu’s ScanEagle UAS will join a collection of historical artifacts and contemporary objects at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan, as a part of the Drones: Is the Sky the Limit? temporary exhibit. The exhibit tells a holistic story about drones, from when they were first being tested and used, to present day where they are quickly becoming a fabric of society. The ScanEagle is known for being a revolutionary UAS, as it was the first UAS to operate from a U.S. Navy Destroyer, the first to conduct an FAA-approved commercial beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight in the United States' National Airspace System, and the first UAS to be flown by students pursuing America's first undergraduate degree in Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations. ( Insitu ) The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a $303.9 million contract modification, for “low-rate initial production of three lot 2 MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems.” According to the Defense Department, under the modification, Northrop Grumman will also provide one main operation control station, one forward operation control station, tooling and trade studies. Through April 2021, Northrop will perform work in several states, including California, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. ( GovCon Wire ) Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology has unveiled a new strategic UAS program, and a new Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAS named the Saqr-1, which has an endurance of more than 24 hours, a range of more than 2,500 kilometers, and it can fly at an average altitude of 20,000 feet. The UAS features a KA-band satellite communications system. ( UPI ) Earlier in May, a Nevada UAS Consortium (Team Roadrunner) set a record for long distance drone delivery, by flying a fixed wing UAS over 97 miles from a “central Texas urban location” to the city of Austin, Texas. The UAS, which flew autonomously on a pre-planned route, delivered a four pound package. Visual observers were around during the flight, and they were equipped with enhanced radios and cell phone communications. ( Post & Parcel ) As a part of the U.S. Air Force's plan to upgrade its remotely piloted capability, the North Dakota National Air Guard's 119th Wing will receive two MQ-9 Reaper UAS this summer. The MQ-9 Reaper is a “multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance precision attack and reconnaissance aircraft.” ( The Bismarck Tribune ) The Brick Township Police Department in Brick Township, New Jersey will begin using UAS, after purchasing one using funding from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety’s Comprehensive Traffic Safety Grant. The UAS will be used to assist with a variety of tasks, such as search and rescue missions, security, and emergency situations. Two traffic safety officers underwent successful training at Eagle View Aviation in Farmingdale, New York, and passed a 60-question exam that was administered by the FAA. ( Micromedia Publications, Inc. ) Two companies, Aeromao Inc. and Foresight Surveyors, worked together to complete a full photogrammetric survey of an entire island, with just one UAS flight that lasted just 45 minutes. The flight, which was conducted in December 2016, used an Aeromapper Talon UAS to fly over an island in the Maldives. During the flight, the UAS surveyed a total area of approximately 251 acres (or one square kilometer), at a ground sample distance ...
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Tweet by AUVSI News   San Francisco-based Kittyhawk, which provides software for pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight UAS operations management, has announced the release of Flight Deck, which will bring real-time in-flight controls and functionality to the Kittyhawk platform. Flight Deck offers several uses for UAS and their operators, including real-time telemetry and airspace feedback for both unmanned and manned aircraft in the area, real-time feedback of when, where and how a pilot is flying, which is provided to fleet managers, and it enables the immediate, automated, private and secure transfer of media and data from the UAS to the Kittyhawk cloud for data access and processing. Flight Deck also integrates the FAA’s recently released 3D grid map system. “A core product theme at Kittyhawk is how we can help our customers foster a culture of safety,” says Josh Ziering, co-founder and chief pilot of Kittyhawk . “Flight Deck fundamentally changes how commercial drone operations function.” With Flight Deck, there is no longer a need for users to switch between apps during an operation, and the task of logging flights is automated. Flight Deck also brings visibility and control to operations that are happening in real time to chief pilots and fleet managers at headquarters. Kittyhawk has integrated with AirMap, which allows UAS operators to get real-time traffic alerts, and in the process, improves their situational awareness. The integration also allows UAS operators to share their live telemetry with airports and others occupying the airspace, and UAS operators can understand and comply with airspace rules, requirements and temporary restrictions. AirMap’s CEO Ben Marcus says, “the innovators at Kittyhawk understand the critical importance of real-time situational awareness and effortless decision-making about where it is safe to fly.” “We’re proud that the AirMap platform can contribute to this sophisticated, end-to-end tool for commercial drone operators and enterprise users.” << Back to
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