US lawmaker calls on UAV industry to increase lobbying

AUVSI: US lawmaker calls on UAV industry to increase lobbying

[Translation: ‘Give us some money if you want to play.’]

“You’re from all over the country,” LoBiondo told the opening of the general session at AUVSI on 6 May. “Get to know your member of Congress. Give them real-world applications. Explain the stories of issues that will save lives… that are unfolding every day.”

‘Hey we gotta’ eat, you know.  As Bubba said quite well recently, “We have to pay our bills.” and it’s expensive running a re-election campaign.  You know what I mean.  Nice Industry you got started there, be a shame if some regulatory ‘thing’ happens.  Tu capisci?’

via: Thrust&PropWash

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Virginia and North Dakota Wrestle with Restrictions on Drones

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) has signed legislation that drastically reduces the ability of police departments in his state to use drones for surveillance.
It also makes it clear that drones should never be equipped with weapons, used for private surveillance, or to keep an eye on people speaking or holding rallies in public.
North Dakota is not the only state to be embroiled in a discussion over the use of drones to spy on its citizens.
But in North Dakota, the debate has been about more than the protection of privacy. Economic development and jobs were factors just as, if not more, important than constitutional concerns.
The North Dakota Legislature and Gov. Dalrymple agreed on legislation limiting the use of drones in mid-April. This was not a debate quickly settled.
It took the legislature in Bismarck more than two years to do this deal, in part because the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department has been relying on the use of drones in its surveillance operations.

via Virginia and North Dakota Wrestle with Restrictions on Drones | PJ Media.

US jobs and crops to increase with drone use

In the report, The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the United States, the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates that integrating drones into U.S. airspace could, by the year 2025, create 100,000 new jobs for the U.S. economy. Most of those jobs, they estimate, will be in the agricultural market.

..

Although U.S. farms are mechanized and extremely productive, they still rely heavily on an age-old practice known as “crop scouting.” In its basic form, crop scouting, or field scouting, is simply observing conditions by traveling around and through a field. This is done so farmers can see how well crops are growing and, when necessary, take corrective action to prevent or mitigate crop damage. The process begins by observing fields before seeding. At this point, farmers are looking for weeds that might impact the growth of crops once their fields have been planted. After planting, ongoing scouting can reveal damage from moisture issues, pest infestations and the effect of fertilizers and pesticide applications.

Scouting is critical to farming because it improves crop yield. It’s also the single most compelling reason that drones will transform the agricultural industry. Viewing crops at 200 feet from a drone has many advantages over walking a field with a note pad. Not only can UAVs provide a comprehensive picture of field conditions, but crop development can also be documented with images and videos from an onboard camera and compared over time.

via US jobs — and crops — to increase with drone use.

DJI is about to become the first billion dollar consumer drone company

Over the last two years DJI has emerged as the world’s most popular consumer drone maker, at least by revenue. And The Verge has learned that the company is currently in talks with Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms to potentially raise a new round of funding. Sources familiar with the negotiations say DJI reported around $500 million in revenue for 2014, roughly four times what it did in 2013, and is on pace to do about $1 billion in sales this year. The potential valuation of the company would be a healthy multiple of that, several billion dollars, although no deal has yet been finalized.

via DJI is about to become the first billion dollar consumer drone company | The Verge.

Drone 3D Maps Volcano

“I have flown in some really crazy places,” says Jardine, recalling his past work in caves, around big waves, and underneath the Sydney bridge. But the vast scale, whirling winds, corrosive fumes, and intense temperatures of Marum Crater presented new challenges. The previous day, Jardine had taken the plunge into the crater itself in order to get footage of the lava lake at closer range than would be practical for human participants. “The bottom of Marum Crater was definitely the most insane place to fly a copter, especially a plastic one,” he says. “The hardest part of flying was the hot air rushing out and cold air getting pulled into the lake. The machine would surge forwards and I would pull back on the stick. Then the hot air would blow in my face 10 times hotter than a hairdryer, and I could see the copter blasting back at me, so I’d push forwards on the stick, and so on. It was like playing tug-of-war with a drunk drone.”

via Drone Vs. Volcano: How Robotic Flyers are Changing Exploration | WIRED.

NYC Council Member Garodnick Provides Logic to Ban Automobiles

But Garodnick said he is worried about the ability of law enforcement to hold car drone operators responsible for illegal or bad acts, especially in a crowded city like New York.
… But if a car drone crashes into people, the driver pilot may be nowhere to be found, Garodnick argued.
“There are a lot of very important uses for cars drones that exist, but until we have the ability to enforce the rules, we are not at a point to grant permission,” Garodnick said in an interview with USA TODAY.

Luddite, much?

via Crackdown on drones goes local.

Catch 22 for Drone Flight In Oregon

Springfield Police said there is currently nothing in Oregon law that makes it a crime to fly a drone. However, the operator of the drone may be civilly liable under certain circumstances for flying over a person’s property at less than 400 feet.

This will not work out well.  The FAA allows a maximum height of flight, for drones, under R/C Hobby classification, of 400′ AGL.

via Woman calls 911 after drone crashes into home | Local & Regional News | Eugene News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | KVAL CBS 13.

FAA Settles Key Case Over Commercial Drone Use… Leaves The Rest Of Us With No Rules At All

As we’ve been covering for a while now, the FAA is doing everything it can to delay nearly all commercial use of drones, despite the many possible innovations drones can lead to. Are there some legitimate safety concerns? Absolutely, but the FAA’s approach of “ban everything” and then drip out a few exemptions here and there is problematic. Last year, we wrote about a key test case, involving Raphael Pirker, in which a judge declared that the FAA’s ban on drones was illegal (mostly for procedural reasons). A few months ago, that got overturned… and now Pirker and the FAA have settled the matter, with Pirker agreeing to pay $1,100 [pdf] while not admitting to any wrong doing:

FAA Settles Key Case Over Commercial Drone Use… Leaves The Rest Of Us With No Rules At All

FAA drone approvals bedeviled by warnings, conflict, internal e-mails show

What the FAA did not reveal, however, was that senior officials had overruled objections from some of its safety inspectors, who had warned after a formal review that the filmmakers’ plans were too risky and should be prohibited, according to documents and e-mails obtained by The Washington Post.

via FAA drone approvals bedeviled by warnings, conflict, internal e-mails show – The Washington Post.

Want to Fly A Hobby Drone? Get A Medical Exam and Open Your Wallet, More

The new proposed rules, expected before the end of the year according to the Wall Street Journal, will apply to drones under 55 pounds, limit flights to daytime hours, under 400 feet, and within the pilot’s line of sight. They would also require all drone operators to acquire a pilot’s license from the FAA. Not a special, drone-focused license, but the kind you need to actually get in a plane and fly it.

That makes the onerous process of getting a license—including dozens of hours of work with an expensive flight instructor, a medical examination, and lots of classroom time—seem less necessary when the only things you might hit are cows and stalks of corn.

via Rural Pilots Won’t Be Happy About the FAA’s New Drone Rules | WIRED.

There I Was: Inverted, One Burnin’ and One Turnin’…

…flak clouds so thick it looked like you could walk on them.  SAMs lookin’ like big fiery telephone poles screaming up at me….. and how’d I know I was upside-down?

All them Air Medals hangin’ in my face.

“As I orbited our Predator over Tarnak Farms, a dusty jumble of buildings in a mud-walled compound just outside Kandahar, Afghanistan, we spotted a strikingly tall man in white robes being treated deferentially by a group of men,” Swanson writes in Breaking Defense today, his first public comments on the September 2000 incident, a year before the 9/11 attacks. “[Sensor operator Master Sgt.] Jeff [Guay] and I immediately knew we had bin Laden in our sights. The U.S. had been searching for OBL for years and now here he was, exquisitely framed on our screen.”
One major problem: At the time, Predator drones were for reconnaissance only and didn’t carry missiles. Bin Laden escaped from Tarnak and evaded American forces until he was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs a decade later in May 2011.

Sure ya’ did, fellow.

Whats the difference between a pilots story and a fairy tale?

A fairy tale begins: One upon a time…. and a pilots story begins: There I was…..

via Early Predator Drone Pilot: I Had Bin Laden in My Crosshairs – ABC News.

Black Dart is the US’ Answer to Drones: War Games

The US military has been experimenting with the use of drones for almost a century, but it’s only recently that technological advances have made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) a game changer in warfare. Today, at least 79 countries field drones; 23 of those countries arm them.

Earlier this year, VICE News was one of the first media outlets ever granted access to the US military’s annual Black Dart exercise, a decade-old joint exercise that focuses on detecting, countering, and defeating UAVs.As we watched tens of millions of dollars worth of military equipment go up against $1,000 drones, Black Dart demonstrated the way rapidly evolving drone technology is challenging the military’s most basic assumptions about controlling the air. (One civilian drone maker we visited told us that the technology he has at his fingertips is outpacing some R&D efforts at big aerospace contractors.) And so Black Dart continues to encourage innovation in the effort to keep the US military one step ahead in the cat-and-mouse game between drones and drone killers.

via Black Dart is the US’ Answer to Drones: War Games | VICE News.

An Air Traffic Control System for Drones

A startup called Airware is working with NASA on a project exploring how to manage the swarms of commercial drones expected to start appearing in U.S. skies. The four-year program will create a series of prototype air traffic management systems and could shape how widely commercial drones can be used. Airware’s main business is selling control software and hardware to drone manufacturers and operators.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has yet to propose rules to govern the use of commercial robotic aircraft in U.S. skies. But it predicts that 7,500 unmanned craft weighing 55 pounds (25 kilograms) or less will be operating in the U.S. by 2018. There is strong interest from agriculture, mining, and infrastructure companies in using drones for tasks like inspecting crops or gathering geospatial data (see “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2014: Agricultural Drones”).

via An Air Traffic Control System for Drones | MIT Technology Review.

Small UAV Coalition formed to promote civil and commercial use of small UAVs

In an attempt to pave the way for commercial, philanthropic, and civil use of small UAVs in the US and around the world, a number of players in the field have teamed up to form the Small UAV Coalition.

The group is also looking to support recreational use of small UAVs for hobbyists.

To those ends, the organization’s main goal is to develop an open regulatory process that ensures “safe, reliable, and timely operation of small UAVs.” It is also pushing for regulatory changes to allow small UAVs to be operated beyond line-of-sight with varying degrees of autonomy.

The group classifies small UAVs as those weighing less than 55 lb (25 kg) and which typically fly at an altitude of under 400 ft (122 m) above ground level. They are also powered by rechargeable batteries and can be flown either manually via a remote control or autonomously using an automated program in the UAV.

Good.

via Small UAV Coalition formed to promote civil and commercial use of small UAVs.

AQAP Twitter-warrior killed in US drone strike

On Sept. 27, the Arabic Twitter account “American Crimes in Yemen” confirmed that al Omari had been killed in the drone strike the previous day and described the strike as “a drop in the sea of American crimes against the Muslims.” The Twitter account claimed that al Omari had survived a previous drone strike and promised its followers that the account would continue to function normally. “The #American_Crimes_in_Yemen account will remain a thorn in America and its agents’ side[s],” its new author vowed.

via AQAP Twitter-warrior killed in latest US drone strike in Yemen – Threat Matrix.

Model drone finds elderly man, missing for three days, alive

Meanwhile, the FAA continues to assert that flying model drones for virtually any other reason than for pleasure is a breach of flight rules. But Schulman has repeatedly maintained that the regulations are unenforceable. And he’s got at least one court ruling to back him up.
In March, a federal judge ruled that the FAA’s ban on the commercial use of drones was not binding because flight officials did not give the public a chance to comment on the agency’s rules. Congress has delegated rule making powers to its agencies, but the Administrative Procedures Act requires the agencies to provide a public notice and comment period first.

via Model drone finds elderly man, missing for three days, alive | Ars Technica.

Harmless Drones Get Federal Flak

That was not the first time members of Texas EquuSearch had used these small model planes to help locate a missing person. But if the Federal Aviation Administration has its way, it won’t happen again.In February, the group got a letter from the FAA demanding that it stop using unmanned aircraft in search-and-rescue efforts, which it says violates its ban on the commercial use of drones. It’s a perfect example of government regulators using imaginary problems to justify sweeping restrictions.

via Harmless Drones Get Federal Flak – Reason.com.