Trump calls for private companies, local governments to show him how to regulate drones

President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today launched the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program, an initiative to test drone operations including night flights, flights over people and flying drones beyond visual line of sight.

While light on details, the announcement of the program could be a gamechanger for how and when drones are integrated into the U.S. airspace on a large scale.

The FAA currently bans a variety of advanced drone operations, including those mentioned above, without a waiver of exemption, which has frustrated companies who feel their business is being stifled by the rules.

“If you are wanting to do drone operations beyond the normal part 107, this appears that the FAA will be moving the direction to allow more of the complex and difficult types of operations many of us have been wanting,” drone attorney Jonathan Rupprecht wrote in a blog post.

The new Drone Integration Pilot Program is calling for prospective local government participant to partner with the private sector to develop pilot proposals.

From those proposals, the U.S. Department of Transportation will select at least five groups to join its pilot program. Continue reading Trump calls for private companies, local governments to show him how to regulate drones

Trackimo tiny GPS can help you find your lost drone

True story: a friend of mine had just purchased a DJI Mavic Pro. He was flying it in San Francisco, and a few minutes in, the drone started flying away, out of his control.

He tried to use the video footage recorded to his phone to hunt it down, but to no avail. The $1,000 he spent were lost.

I can’t help but think, if he had taken this one simple precaution, this wouldn’t have happened! A GPS tracker for your drone.trackimo drone gps tracker

Trackimo has been making 3G GPS tracker devices for years — to give to kids or elderly relatives who might get lost, or to add to cars. But the company recently developed one specifically designed for drones.

Trackimo’s 3G GPS Drone Tracker is about 1 ounce and sticks anywhere on your drone (typically the top is a good place to put it). Once activated, you can see on your smartphone app exactly where the drone has been.  Continue reading Trackimo tiny GPS can help you find your lost drone

This AirVuz drone racing video contest comes with a $1,000 prize

There’s no shortage of drone photo and video contests for those images of stunning landscapes and unique angles.

But what about those sweet FPV racing and freestyle videos? There’s a contest for those too.

Even better, the best FPV Video comes with an $1,000 prize.

AirVuz is hosting its first-ever 2017 AirVūz Drone Video Awards. AirVuz is a drone video site with a heavy emphasis on racing and FPV freestyle drone videos. 36,000 videos have been submitted and uploaded to the site between the time it launched in 2015 and Oct. 1. Continue reading This AirVuz drone racing video contest comes with a $1,000 prize

There’s a drone scholarship for high school students. Here’s how you can win it

High school students who love drones — here’s a drone scholarship you need to take advantage of.

*Pssst!* Scroll down to the bottom of this post to get $50 off any Drone Pilot Ground School course!

Drone Pilot Ground School launched the High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots. The scholarship provides free access to Drone Pilot Ground School for eligible high school students who are at least 16 years old. The scholarship will also pay for Part 107 test fees for the first 100 students to take the test. The Part 107 test fee is typically $150.

The Part 107 test is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, and every pilot who operates a drone commercially needs to have passed it in order to obtain a license.

“We know the drone industry has the potential for creating new jobs for young people, and can help students get excited about STEM subjects,” said Perlman. “Providing a scholarship to interested, qualified high school students just seemed like a natural outgrowth of the support we’ve given the students at Taft High.” Continue reading There’s a drone scholarship for high school students. Here’s how you can win it

Boeing will pay you $2 million if you can build a human-carrying drone or jetpack

Know how to build a human-carrying drone or jetpack? Boeing will pay you $2 million to make it happen.

Boeing is the primary sponsor in GoFly, a two-year, international contest to build a “personal flying device” capable of Vertical Takeoff and Landing that can fly twenty miles and carry a person.

In other words: a drone or a jetpack.

“What we are seeking is an “everyone” personal flying device, capable of being flown by ANYONE, ANYWHERE. It should be a device for ALL: young and old, city-dweller and country-dweller, expert and novice,” according to the rules. Continue reading Boeing will pay you $2 million if you can build a human-carrying drone or jetpack

Stop flying drones over the California fires. It’s probably illegal

Stop flying your drones over the California fires and subsequent devastation. Why?

Here’s the short answer: the U.S. government says so.

And here’s the long answer:

A large amount of space in the Napa area is currently under a NOTAM, including airspace over NapaSanta Rosa and Petaluma. A NOTAM is short for notice to airmen, and is something filed by the FAA to alert pilots of hazards in areas they are flying in.

Under the restrictions of those NOTAMs, “no pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM.”

The NOTAMS are effective through Nov. 13 “to provide a safe environment for fire fighting aircraft operations,” according to the text of the NOTAMs. Continue reading Stop flying drones over the California fires. It’s probably illegal

This AED doubles as a drone — in hopes to get faster support to stroke victims

Add this to your list of “Drones for Good.”

Swedish-based company FlyPulse has developed a drone it calls LifeDrone AED. It is exactly what it sounds like — a drone that transports defibrillators, which is an electronic device seen in gyms, offices and classrooms that can  automatically diagnose cardiac arrhythmias and treat them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy.

The idea behind building a drone to transport them? The drone can get the defibrillator to the stroke victim in a short amount of time — time being often the crucial factor in survival rates.

Other companies are using drones for good in the health industry, such as strapping life jackets to drones, which can be flown over drowning victims to drop a life jacket near them. And a range of drone companies such as Zipline and Matternet are using drones for medical deliveries including blood and medicine.

FlyPulse develops the drones, but they recently partnered with Silicon Valley based company, FlytBase to create a network of drones outfitted with AEDs. FlyBase’s software is intended to help drones navigate through the skies, and also manage computer vision, payload management and security, machine learning.

Each year in the U.S. there are about 359,4000 cardiac arrests outside of a hospital. Less than 10% of victims survive, according to the American Heart Association. In communities with comprehensive AED programs, survival rates are closer to 40%.

Here’s what’s wrong with a centralized control center to manage drone traffic, according to DJI

As drone sales continue to spike and their use becomes more ubiquitous, drone traffic management continues to ascend to the forefront of conversation around drones.

And the first step in traffic management? Creating a system to identify which drones are in the year.

The Federal Aviation Administration in June created a UAS Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (sometimes referred to as ARC) to propose details of a drone identification and tracking system.

Among the proposals being thrown around? A centralized control center that would establish flight paths for drones to help them avoid other obstacles including other drones.

But one company that really doesn’t like that idea? It’s the one that perhaps has the most at stake: drone manufacturer DJI.

DJI in July released an updated version of a white paper outlining its intention for a way to manage and monitor drone traffic. And one thing it wants to make clear: it should not be a network-based approach.

Remote identification

The primary aspect of DJI’s vision for drone traffic management centers around a type of remote drone identification, according to a white paper released by the company in July.

DJI has proposed creating an identification mechanism that provides localized identification without an permanent recording or logging, but like a more advanced version of a license plate on a car.

“An identifier, such as a registration number, together with position information about the drone, and perhaps some voluntary information if the operator wishes, is transmitted from the drone, and is available to all receivers that are within range,” according to DJI’s white paper. “Authorized receivers of the transmission who believe the drone’s operator is violating a regulation or engaged in unlawful acts can record and investigate, similar to how a license plate might be recorded by someone who is cut offroad.”

If radio-based identification were used, it would be able to work through walls and at much greater distances than what a police officer would be able to see on a car’s license plate.

The argument against a network approach

DJI is advocating against a network approach, which would require the drone to be connected to a network.

The problem? A lack of network signals means it simply wouldn’t work. For privacy reasons, a network-based approach would like be opposed by drone operators who don’t want their flights tracked and recorded — or even hacked.

DJI’s white paper refers to such an approach as an “Orwellian model” that provides “more information than needed to people who don’t require it, and exposes confidential business information in the process.”

How DJI plans to implement its remote identification approach

DJI is proposing using protocols within the existing C2 or video link to transmit information to ground receivers, which most often use 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands, done at the manufacturer’s level.

For people building their own drones DJI proposes that builders include an add-on RF module.

So how do we solve drones not crashing into each other?

Some have suggested that a centralized network would ensure remotely piloted drones don’t crash into each other. DJI says that’s not a problem.

“We envision a future in which drones will be smart enough to navigate safely through the airspace, avoiding obstacles, each other, and manned traffic, all on their own, in most locations,”  according to the white paper. “Instead, drones can directly coordinate their flight paths and avoid obstacles by using On-board Anti-collision Technologies (OATs) already found on many civil drones, such as obstacle sensing systems and radio transmitters and receivers communicating with other drones.”