Weekend Roundup



This Week in the Unmanned Systems and Robotics World

During the 2nd Quarter of 2017, SeekOps Incorporated used “proprietary miniature gas sensors” on advanced UAS platforms to detect the primary component of natural gas, methane. Compared to current leak detection operations which are conducted by vehicles or on foot using large instrumentation, the UAS deployment provides increased efficiency. SeekOps used UAS by an industrial-grade UAS platform manufacturer called Straight Up Imaging. (SeekOps)

Airbus Aerial, which is a commercial aerial services business that was recently launched by Airbus, partnered with an electric utility company called Southern Company to conduct a “first-of-its-kind demonstration of power line inspections,” using a combination of aerial technologies, including a UAS. During the demonstration, Airbus satellite systems were used to inspect the electrical lines of Southern Company across a region of Georgia, while the UAS collected “finer detail along a 30-mile (48.2 km) span outside Atlanta.” This demonstration of power line inspections was the first time that UAS and satellite imaging technologies have been used together, and this was also the first time that a UAS has flown beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in the state of Georgia. (Airbus Aerial)

Community College of Allegheny County-South Campus, which is located in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, will begin offering an introductory course on UAS in Spring 2018. The course, which will be taught by Lori Paluti, an FAA-certified UAS pilot and instructor at the school, will teach a number of lessons regarding UAS, including where they can be flown and how high, the makeup of the aircraft, and how to read a weather report. (TribLIVE.com)

In an effort to “enhance the state's environmental management, conservation and emergency response efforts,” the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has deployed a fleet of 22 UAS across New York state. Thus far, the UAS have been used successfully for a variety of missions, including for an oil spill response in Staten Island, a bat cave survey in Mineville, and the UAS were also deployed to help with the disaster response in Texas and Puerto Rico, following Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria respectively. (Department of Environmental Conservation)

Luminar Technologies has partnered with the Toyota Research Institute to develop self-driving cars that have an ability to see better than the human eye, using Luminar’s LiDAR sensors. Luminar’s LiDAR sensor is being used in the latest fleet of “self-driving luxury Lexus sedans” for the Toyota Research Institute. According to James Kuffner, TRI’s chief technology officer, the vehicles will be tested at Toyota R&D facilities across the United States. (Forbes)

As Hurricane Maria threatened the U.S. East Coast, Raytheon’s Coyote UAS flew directly into the storm to provide “near-real-time, potentially life-saving data.” The UAS, which were dropped out of a NOAA WP-3D Orion weather surveillance plane, gave researchers an “unprecedented view” of the storm, gathering data in the eye wall in the process, and giving forecasters the ability to predict the storm’s intensity from a safe distance. (Raytheon)

In Virginia, just a week after using a UAS to locate a missing high school student, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office is crediting its UAS for helping to locate a wanted subject. After receiving information about the man’s whereabouts, the UAS was deployed by the sheriff’s office to assist with the search, and it was able to pick up a thermal image of the subject. Authorities found the man hiding under a tree in a wooded area, and he was taken into custody without any issues. (Unmanned Aerial)