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Tweet by AUVSI News In an effort to enhance its digital news coverage, the China Daily website has partnered with China-based drone development company EHang Inc. EHang will provide reporters from China Daily with training on how to use UAS when taking photographs and gathering news for reports. “By co-operating with our premier partner in drone news coverage, we will seize the industrial trend driven by new technologies and improve our responsiveness, diversity and additional value during breaking news reports and cross-border communications around the globe,” said Li Xin, the website’s deputy editor, via the China Post . “We’ve established a new media lab to implement virtual reality and UAV technologies in our news coverage works.” The China Daily website is the latest Chinese news organization to take an interest in using unmanned systems in its newsgathering operations. The People’s Daily Website and Xinhua News Agencies have each announced plans to jointly work with hardware companies to develop strategies on how to use UAS for newsgathering. With an office in the United States, EHang has also entered into partnerships with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) that will allow EHang to test its drones at Nevada’s FAA UAS Test Site, and eventually achieve safe flight in the United States’ airspace while adhering to the rules of the FAA. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News After receiving a $9.6 million contract, Northrop Grumman will install an Automatic Response Module of the Airborne Collision Avoidance System X (ACAS X) into the avionics system of the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton UAS. As Navy spokeswoman Jamie B. Cosgrove explained to Defense Systems , the ACAS X will help the Triton navigate the skies safely. “This technology will help keep Triton safely separated from civil and military aircraft and mitigate risks for inflight collisions,” Cosgrove said. Developed by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the ACAS X uses sensor measurements from onboard surveillance systems to detect and track aircraft, and estimate the location of close aircraft using advanced tracking algorithms. According to the MIT Lincoln Laboratory , to examine potential collision risks, “ACAS X uses computer-optimized logic lookup tables that capture each possible state in the probabilistic state distribution.” The tables then create a cost for each action to determine whether or not a collision avoidance alert is necessary. If an alert is necessary, a guide for pilots is provided to draw out the best actions to safely move forward. Back in September, the Triton successfully completed a Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) led review, while also achieving a positive Milestone C low-rate initial production approval. A tentative deployment date for the UAS has been set for 2018. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News Beyond visual line of sight testing of UAS is headed to the state of Ohio, with the Ohio Controlling Board approving the final $1.5 million of funding needed to build a ground-based sense and avoid radar system at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. According to David Gallagher, a spokesperson for the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center, the sense and avoid radar system is “one-of-a-kind in general aviation airspace.” “It gives the folks on the ground flying these vehicles an extra sense of safety, so we know who's flying at all levels,” Gallagher told the Columbus Business First . Initial tests of the $5 million project will be conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratory, which picked the airport as the home of the system a few months ago. Eventually, universities and private companies will have the opportunity to work at the site as well. “This can be a game changer for our region,” said Maurice “Mo” McDonald, the executive vice president of aerospace and defense for the Dayton Development Coalition. McDonald continued, “we will be unique in the country to have that capability to fly. The future of that space is beyond the Air Force. The goal is to have industry and academic community do research and development.” The hope is that tests of the system can begin next year. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News Drone USA, Inc. and Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. (ESAero) have entered into a strategic partnership, where ESAero will help Drone USA in its development of unmanned systems. “This partnership is the perfect marriage of resources between two companies with complementary attributes,” said ESAero’s President Andrew Gibson in a press release . “Drone USA arrives with a superior set of products, and with a world-class team, responsible for the success of some of the largest UAV companies in the marketplace. Our ability to optimize and customize their portfolio for specific market sectors complements Drone USA’s national and international reach to generate an optimal operational manifesto.” As a part of the partnership, Drone USA will work at ESAero’s new company headquarters in San Luis Obispo, California. Drone USA’s portfolio of UAS ranges from fixed-wing aircraft to UAS with vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) capabilities. Drone USA’s CEO Mike Bannon said, “Andrew and the team at ESAero have created a company that stands head and shoulders above most in UAV technological competencies and by leveraging ESAero’s superior capabilities, we now possess an all-inclusive and advanced infrastructure in North America.” Recently, ESAero worked on NASA’s 3,000-pound electric flight demonstrator known as the X-57. The X-57, nicknamed “Maxwell,” is NASA’s first manned experimental rocket in about 30 years. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News Sentera and RDO Equipment Co. have agreed to a partnership that will allow RDO to sell the DJI Phantom UAS with Sentera’s Single Sensor technology installed, and also give customers access to Sentera’s AgVault image data management platform. While professionals in several industries will be able to capitalize on this technology, those in the agricultural industry might have the most to gain from this partnership, thanks to Sentera’s Single Sensor, which is built to observe crop health and quickly recognize issues. “There’s a large number of agricultural professionals interested in UAVs who are new to the concept and technology,” said Jeff Lemna , Director of Customer Support at RDO Equipment Co, through the Green Sheet Farm Forum. “Our partnership with Sentera offers these customers the opportunity to add UAV technology to their operations with a high-quality unit and the support they need, at an affordable price.” Currently, six RDO stores in five different states are selling the DJI Phantom equipped with Sentera’s software. RDO plans to sell the UAS to more stores in the future. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News A 50-mile stretch from the Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York to the Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, New York will serve as a drone corridor for the state. The corridor is expected to be New York’s version of Silicon Valley, as it seeks to serve as a destination for technological advancement for developers of unmanned systems. “Companies are going to have to collaborate to come up with a solution because nobody has the single answer. And that’s how Silicon Valley started, that’s what exists today,” said Larry Brinker, the executive director of the NUAIR Alliance, via WRVO Public Media . The NUAIR Alliance is a not-for-profit coalition based at Griffiss International Airport that operates and oversees UAS test ranges in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan. Brinker continued, “people are drawn to that area because of the collaboration of the companies that are there, and that’s what we expect to do here as well.” Among many features, the corridor is expected to include an inside testing and verification center, as well as a testing and certification facility called NUSTAR. The announcement of this corridor comes just a few weeks after Lockheed Martin completed a successful firefighting and search-and-rescue demonstration at Griffiss International Airport. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News With more people flying UAS than ever before, the Unmanned Safety Institute (USI) will begin offering UAS pilots of all skills an online course focused on the safe operation and usage of unmanned systems. The course, named SAFEGUARD, is meant to meet the demands of an industry that continues to grow, especially since the passing of the small UAS rule back in August. “By the end of 2016, there could be as many as three million consumer drones flying in the national airspace, posing a significant challenge and potentially serious risk to other aircraft flying with persons onboard,” said USI President Aaron Greenwald, through the Aviation Pros . With that in mind, the USI, which has experience working with law enforcement agencies and schools, will teach everyday users of UAS how to safely operate their aircraft. “Aimed specifically at hobbyists, SAFEGUARD fills a much needed gap in available training options for recreational flyers,” said Chris Proudlove, Senior Vice President – Manager Northeast Regional Office & UAS Risks for Global Aerospace. Some of the main focuses of the course will be how to operate UAS in adverse weather conditions, identifying and avoiding hazards while flying a UAS, and learning the current rules of the sky as implemented by the FAA. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News Volkswagen has launched a new company called Moia, which will focus on the development of products that power driverless vehicle. The Berlin-based company officially launched on Monday at TechCrunch Disrupt London 2016. “MOIA is a stand-alone company under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, and will develop and market its own mobility services either independently or in partnership with cities and existing transport systems,” said Ole Harms, CEO of Moia, via press release. After Volkswagen invested $300 million into a London-based ride hailing service called Gett, Harms hopes to turn Moia into a major player in the ride hailing service industry as well, following the blueprint of Gett. “Together with Gett we are pursuing a clearly defined expansion strategy in Europe – only recently, three of the Group’s brands launched the first joint initiative with attractive vehicle packages for Gett drivers in the growth market of Moscow,” Harms said. “Further markets will follow soon.” Besides creating another option for transportation in urban environments, Volkswagen also has an interest in creating environmentally safe vehicles as well. Company officials hope that Moia will represent a significant portion of Volkswagen’s sales revenue by 2025. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News Over the course of 17 flights, BAE Systems will test the Jetstream 31 UAS to determine how well autonomous technologies, via a satellite link, can control the aircraft. The tests flights are being launched from BAE Systems’ military air and information facility in Warton, with the landing destination in Inverness, Scotland. “Our priority as always is to demonstrate the safe and effective operation of autonomous systems and together with NATS we are working towards the possibility of flying our own unmanned systems in a highly controlled environment in the UK,” said Maureen McCue, head of Research and Technology for BAE Systems’ military aircraft and information business, in article from the Lancashire Evening Post . McCue added, “the trials are an exciting time and will give us technology options that could be applied to our own manned and unmanned aircraft as well potentially enabling us to take some new unmanned aircraft technologies to market.” Two pilots are on board during the flight to handle the takeoff and landing of the aircraft. On land, another pilot monitors the aircraft during its autonomous flight from a ground control station. BAE Systems is footing the £400,000 bill (just above $500,000 in U.S. currency). The testing will seek to build off the discoveries from the Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment (ASTRAEA) Research and Development program, which occurred from 2008-2013. << Back to the News
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Tweet General Atomics will create a Protector Remotely Piloted Air System for the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, after signing a $127 million contract with the United Kingdom’s Defence Ministry. To meet the needs of the Royal Air Force, the Protector Remotely Piloted Air System will feature advanced imaging and enhanced datalink technology, as well as the ability to carry UK-made Brimstone 2 missiles and Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. “Britain faces ever-evolving threats and we must look at innovative solutions to stay ahead of our enemies,” said Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon via press release . “Doubling investment in our unmanned air fleet will substantially enhance both the intelligence gathering and firepower of the RAF.” Other features of the system, which will be an upgrade of the company’s Predator B UAS, will include improved range and endurance, automatic takeoff and landing capabilities, and a build that will allow the system to better deal with the elements. “Protector is a highly advanced system which will use world-beating technology to give us a decisive advantage on the battlefield,” said Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of the MOD's Defence Equipment & Support organization. Douglas added, “this contract signature is not only great news for our armed forces, but demonstrates how the strong relationship between UK Defence and our allies helps to ensure best value for the taxpayer.” << Back to the News General Atomics' Protector Remotely Piloted Air System << Back to the News
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Tweet Nissan’s Oppama Plant in Kanagawa, Kanto will begin using a driverless towing system called Intelligent Vehicle Towing (IVT). IVT will be responsible for transporting finished vehicles to and from designated areas around the plant. IVT uses the company’s LEAF electric car to autonomously carry cars from destination to destination. The LEAF is equipped with cameras and laser scanners that help it maneuver along its path while avoiding obstacles and potential dangerous situations. Combining the information that the car picks up through its cameras and laser scanners with mapping data, the LEAF operates within the speed limits of the plant while driving along a route that can be altered if necessary. In a year of testing, IVT has conducted more than 1,600 test runs. These test runs led to the development of other systems including a safety system and a fail-safe system; each of which take into account outside factors that IVT might run into while operating, to make sure that it can still function safely despite conditions such as bad weather or low light conditions. To keep track of the cars that lead the system, Nissan has a central traffic control system that monitors the status of the vehicles and stays updated on necessary information about the vehicles including location, operational status and battery life. The system also helps determine which car has the right of way when they come in close proximity of each other, such as meeting at an intersection. If the integration of IVT at the Oppama Plant goes smoothly, other facilities might receive the technology as well. Video footage of the system in action can be seen here . << Back to the News << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News For the last 13 years, a manufacturing robotics company called Seegrid has developed software and sensors that make it possible for industrial trucks to move and operate autonomously around manufacturing facilities and distribution centers. Now, Seegrid is taking its technology outside of the facilities and distribution centers in an effort to make autonomous vehicles operable on the road, through the use of stereo cameras, which produce a depth of vision for driverless vehicles. “It's just like the two eyes that are in human beings,” said Seegrid's vice president of products Jeff Christensen in an article with CNBC . “You get a depth of field.” Christensen added that stereo cameras are a better option as a primary sensor over other cameras such as monocular cameras, because “then you can get both the image data and the ranging data from a single sensor.” Seegrid’s technology has been tested successfully on the road, with over 500,000 miles of accident-free experience in actual customer production environments. While Seegrid plans on testing its technology on its Nissan Leaf prototype that is currently in development and is expected to be upgraded next year, Seegrid doesn’t plan on developing autonomous vehicles. Instead, Seegrid hopes to sell its technology to automakers across the world. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News Sentera has received the 2016 Tekne Startup Award from the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA). The Tekne Awards recognize Minnesota-based companies that make significant impacts in different arenas such as technology, healthcare and workforce development. In a statement on the Tekne Awards Website , the MHTA said, “unlike most UAV companies, Sentera products are being used today by real people to solve real problems. With more than 200 years of combined remote sensing and UAV experience, Sentera is defining the industry through actions, not words.” Upon receiving the award, Sentera CEO Eric Taipale said via press release , “we are so honored to be recognized by the MHTA with the Tekne Startup Award. We believe we’re solving real problems and love the fact that we get to make a difference in how our customers do business. It is an incredibly rewarding endeavor and the entire team contributes to our success.” Sentera is based in Minneapolis, MN, and specializes in making UAS with top notch aerial photography and data collection capabilities. While the company creates UAS for a variety of customers, it has a special interest in helping to alleviate world hunger, by providing UAS that can help with agriculture through precision-sensing. Sentera recently passed a significant milestone, as its equipment has captured more than 25 million acres of images. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News The city of Cornwall, Ontario might see UAS flying around in 2017, if a $17,000 expenditure request to the city’s budget for next year is approved. The expenditure request was submitted by EMS chief Myles Cassidy. According to Cassidy, the UAS could be used for a variety of reasons. “They can be used for a number of things,” Cassidy said through the Standard Freeholder . “Public works can use it for inspecting the landfill site.” Cassidy also said that the UAS could be used for assisting emergency personnel responding to a call, as well as giving the fire department and police an extra set of eyes from the sky. Cassidy got the idea to use UAS after seeing the positive effects that UAS have had in the town of Renfrew, Ontario, and its paramedicine department. One situation saw the UAS being used for investigating the cause of a flood. “The drone was able to find there was a landslide in the boonies that had caused to dam up the river,” Cassidy said. “It would have taken hours and hours to get to that part of the county to find out the cause.” While everything is waiting for approval, if the proposal is approved, Cassidy plans on creating an ad hoc committee that includes other city departments to help determine which UAS would best fit the needs of Cornwall. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News Florida Polytechnic University, in partnership with MIT, will introduce the “Autonomous Systems and Self-Driving Vehicles” course next year to its campus. The course will be taught by Dr. Dean Bushey, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Information Technology at the university. Bushey, who is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel with 10+ years of experience working with autonomous systems, will have help from professors from MIT, where the course will also be taught. The course will see groups of five students work together to upgrade a small race car, with the eventual goal of racing the cars. The students will equip the cars with the proper technology so that it can autonomously follow a yellow line, stop at a red light, and stop for sudden obstacles. “This is the future of transportation, so we’re preparing students to be comfortable in this new world and to be ready to advance it,” Bushey said via the Florida Trend . Florida Poly President Dr. Randy K. Avent said, “hands-on learning is one of the key foundations of this institution. Autonomous and connected vehicles are emerging industries and we have a unique opportunity here at Florida Poly to lead innovation in this industry.” So far, 15 students have signed up for the course. Bushey explained the fervor surrounding the new program on campus by saying, “it’s an easy sell. They’re very excited about the prospect of a car that drives itself.” The timing of this course is perfect, as there is a new testing facility called SunTrax being built near the University. SunTrax is a project of the University and the Florida Department of Transportation. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News UAS experts from the United Kingdom recently completed a successful trip to the United States, where they hosted events and met with industry leaders in California. The representatives from the UK were led by Dr. Michael Clark, Deputy Director of International Aviation and Safety and Environment for the UK Department for Transport, and Tim Johnson, Policy Director of the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Both expressed plenty of enthusiasm for how the trip went. “This was a fantastic visit to see where the US and UK can further collaborate and learn from one another about UAV testing and delivery,” Clark said in a press release . “I’m returning to London and already have ideas for a few policy changes to ensure we get the most of the drone economy.” Johnson echoed these sentiments by saying, “it was also good to discuss with our American counterparts how we can jointly tackle issues such as safety, security and privacy, or using drones for public projects like inspecting power lines or helping with search-and-rescue missions.” While in California, the team hosted several events during the Drone World Expo, including a panel discussion and a private reception. The group also met with leaders from the Tesla Foundation and Qualcomm to talk about the future of the industry and where it is headed. << Back to the News
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Weekend Roundup

Tweet This Week in the Unmanned Systems and Robotics World The Clear Lake Fire Department in Clear Lake, Iowa is welcoming a DJI Inspire 1 UAS to its repertoire. The system, which was paid for with help from donations, includes two controllers, two iPads, extra batteries and an FLIR thermal camera. The department recently tested the UAS during a training session at the city’s burn facility, and they plan on using it when there are large fires, or to locate missing people. ( Clear Lake Mirror Report ) The Fallon Police Department in Fallon, Nevada recently used a UAS to complete a successful search and rescue exercise involving a suicidal man walking along a railroad track. The scenario was created by the city, in coordination with Hot Rail Security and drone experts from Flight Text Concierge LLC and Vertical Vantage Inc. The UAS was operated by Lacey Szekely, an Army veteran who flew helicopters in Afghanistan. ( Nevada Appeal ) Two France-based companies called Geodis and Delta Drone are planning to launch a UAS prototype next year for automated warehouse inventory. So far, tests of the prototype have been completed at two locations in France, at the Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône (near Paris) and the Plaisance-du-Touch (near Toulouse). The initial prototype is a quadcopter UAS with high-resolution cameras and a ground-based robot that includes a battery that produces the energy needed to run the UAS. ( Commercial UAV News ) The Philippines has become the latest country to use UAS to assess damage after a natural disaster, using systems provided by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The team operating the UAS are led by Zaida Manglicmot, Voltaire Ignacio and Jaime Reyes. Their most recent mission saw them using UAS to gauge damage caused by two Typhoons in October. ( Latin America Herald Tribune ) An online food order and delivery company called Just Eat has begun using Starship Technologies’ autonomous delivery bots to complete the delivery of online orders. While the service is currently available only in Greenwich, London, other parts of London are expected to receive the service starting next year. ( Engadget ) << Back to the News << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News Students and professors a part of the geographic information systems (GIS) program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle used two DJI Phantom 4 UAS to take photos of the Kings Grove Cemetery in Mars Hill, Maine. The photos will be used to create a plot map. “In just an hour we went out to Kings Grove Cemetery and gathered the data we needed,” said Andrew Dolley, a GIS student at the university, via Bangor Daily News . “This is something that could have taken days if done without a drone, or done with very poor quality if we were just using Google Earth to collect visual data.” Using UAS now could have a positive effect on the future of students after they graduate, according to University of Maine at Augusta President James Conneely. “There is a strong job market for licensed UAV pilots,” Conneely said. The unmanned systems being used were provided from funding through the science and technology bond program, which was approved through voting in Maine in 2013. Students and professors have also used the UAS to map out other things such as the Presque Isle’s Mantle Lake Park, as well as a cross country ski trail network on campus. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News The state of Kansas is looking to save thousands of dollars when inspecting bridges and towers, with the creation of the Kansas Unmanned Aerial Systems Program. According to UAS Director Bob Brock, using UAS to conduct inspections could bring the cost of inspections below $1,000, a sharp contrast to the near $4,600 it cost per inspection when humans are involved. Besides cutting down on prices, UAS also significantly increase safety and convenience. “What this was able to do during this test was be able to get underneath a large bridge that would otherwise require specialized equipment to put a person underneath that bridge in a way that was safe,” Brock said via KMUW Wichita . Brock added, “we put an awful lot of manpower into each bridge inspection and have to physically put a person in the air over a moving river or even near traffic at times that may be unnecessary.” Making the program even more significant to the state is the fact that the UAS being used are developed by Kansas companies, and the program is also working with universities in the state for research purposes. The program plans on conducting six to eight more test inspections in the next year. << Back to the News
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Tweet by AUVSI News Intel has taken several steps to become a real player in the world of driverless vehicles. After announcing a $250-million-dollar investment that will go towards the development of autonomous driving technology a few weeks ago, Intel has now announced that it has created an Automated Driving Group (ADG) within the company. The ADG will be led by Doug Davis, the previous general manager of the Internet of Things (IoT) Group at Intel. In a company press release , Intel said of Davis, “Doug sees the new Automated Driving Group as another not-to-be missed opportunity to lead through disruption, so much so that he has postponed his retirement to become the senior vice president and general manager of ADG.” Davis will have assistance from Kathy Winter, who will serve as the vice president and general manager of the Automated Solutions Division (ASD). The announcement of the creation of the ADG comes a few days after it was reported that Intel has entered into partnerships with Delphi Automotive and Mobileye. Delphi is an automotive parts manufacturing company based in the United Kingdom, while Mobileye is a tech company based in Israel that develops vision-based advanced driver assistance systems. Next month, Delphi and Mobileye will test their Centralized Sensing Localization and Planning (CSLP) automated driving system during a six-mile drive in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show. Together, the three companies will look to create a driverless vehicle platform to sell to automakers by 2019. << Back to the News
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