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Tweet On June 18, the first combination aerial and underwater bridge inspection was successfully conducted on the Delaware Memorial Bridge Twin Spans, using a hybrid unmanned vehicle called the Naviator, which can fly and swim. The inspection was a result of a collaborative effort that included the Delaware River Bay Authority (DRBA), Rutgers University-New Brunswick (RU-NB) and SubUAS LLC. All parties involved with the inspection have high praises for the Naviator unmanned vehicle, and believe that the vehicle can be a gamechanger for a lot of industries moving forward. “The ability to have a single autonomous vehicle inspect piers or vessels both above and below the water line is no longer science fiction,” says Thomas J. Cook, executive director of the DRBA . Rutgers-New Brunswick School of Engineering Professor F. Javier Diez says, “the Naviator’s ability to seamlessly and rapidly transition from flying in the air to maneuvering underwater provides tremendous opportunities for a number of industries and naval operations.” “As these recent tests demonstrated, what previously might require a helicopter, boat, and underwater equipment, the Naviator was able to complete as a single deployment with fewer complications and in less time.” Finally, Mark Contarino, vice president of technology, SubUAS LLC, says “the Naviator drone’s ability to repeatedly transition from water to air in less than two seconds has opened up novel markets that will find these capabilities advantageous.” Thanks to funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Naviator was developed at Rutgers School of Engineering, which is an official FAA UAS testing facility. The Naviator prototype was developed in 2013 “with subsequent technologic advancements to its propulsion, buoyancy and control systems,” by researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers-New Brunswick, under the direction of Professor Diez. Support of the Naviator’s development has also come from the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT). The Naviator research team is making enhancements to the vehicle so that it can be used not only for bridge inspections, but also for applications such as ocean floor mapping, harbor security, and search and rescue operations, to name a few. << Back to the News Photo Courtesy of Delaware River Bay Authority << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   On July 10, Fortress UAV, a newly formed subsidiary of Fortress Solutions, officially announced a new North American repair service for commercial and consumer UAS . With three facilities in the United States, and over 220 employees in repair services, Fortress UAV is in position to be the largest and most comprehensive facility for UAS repair in North America, especially since thus far, UAS repair facilities have mainly been housed at hobby shops, or been a product of drone enthusiasts launching new repair businesses. “We have been eyeing the expansion into drone repair and logistics and preparing for the launch of Fortress UAV for the better part of a year,” says Brendon Mills, president and CEO of Fortress UAV and Fortress Solutions. “We have expanded and trained our staff to address this unique market, and silently launched our services in February. Today, we are excited to officially launch Fortress UAV and aggressively expand our business to fulfill the critical repair and logistics needs for both enthusiasts and commercial operators alike.” As an authorized dealer and repair service center for Yuneec UAS, and an authorized dealer for DJI, Fortress UAV can repair all variants of Yuneec Typhoon and Breeze products, as well as DJI Phantom, DJI Mavic, and DJI Inspire products, and the DJI Matrice 600 commercial UAS. Soon, Fortress UAV will begin repairing the DJI Spark and the Matrice 200/210 products. The company supports out-of-warranty and crash-damage repairs for DJI and Yuneec brand UAS in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and in as little as two days, they can return a repaired unit to a user. A UAS owner can send their drone to Fortress UAV for a free, detailed estimate on how much repairs will cost on their unmanned system. Through the company’s website, which is now live at http://www.fortressuav.com/ , customers can follow their repair process, as well as initiate a new repair order, receive shipping logistics information, and track and pay for the repair process.   << Back to
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Tweet Shared rides — such as are offered by Lyft’s Lyft Line and Uber’s Uber Pool — are likely the first step to getting riders to accept future automated vehicles, representatives of those on-demand services said at the second day of the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco. Joseph Okpaku, vice president of government operations for Lyft, said Lyft Line is available in 60 cities worldwide. In those cities, 20 percent of Lyft rides are shared rides, and some places, such as San Francisco, are much higher, verging on 50 to 60 percent. Describing the company as “bullish” on automated vehicles, Okpaku said in five years, most of the company’s rides will be in automated vehicles, at least in urban core areas. Adam Gromis, global lead on sustainability and environmental impact at Uber, agreed that the road to automated vehicles is paved with ride sharing, and said there are one billion vehicles on the planet, which are in use for only 5 percent of their lives — “that’s a lot of empty seats driving around.” He said Uber is tapping into its data to help design future self-driving technology. “We’re mapping cities … learning how people take trips,” which will help get them ready for automated vehicles, he said. Uber and Lyft appeared on a panel along with Jeff Hobson, deputy director for planning for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. He said the city plans to use development on Treasure Island, home to a former military facility, as a proving ground for a ride-sharing system. The island, home now to just a few thousand residents, will grow to tens of thousands of residents in coming years, who would overwhelm the Bay Bridge if they all drove. The city will instead use some grant money as part of the Smart Cities initiative to install an automated shuttle. Even before automated vehicles become widespread, trucks that are automated to some degree will likely be on the roads, according to speakers on another panel. Volvo has done demonstrations for truck platooning, where a lead truck can partially control another, or even several others, and the California startup Peloton Technologies is devoted entirely to the concept. Josh Switkes, founder and CEO of Peloton Technologies, was asked if platooning will be commonplace by 2030, and instead predicted it will be prevalent long before that. Alden Woodrow, product lead for self-driving trucks for Uber Advanced Technologies Group, agreed, and said, “we are hiring. The more talented people we can hire, the sooner we will get there.” << Back to the News << Back
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Tweet Have some good ideas for advanced technology? The Toyota Research Institute would like to hear about them, and may be willing to fund them and become a customer. Gill Pratt, the former DARPA roboticist who is now COE of the TRI, announced a new venture fund named the Toyota AI Ventures at the Automated Vehicles Symposium on Tuesday, July 11, held by AUVSI and TRB in San Francisco. The idea is to invite innovative companies “to join us in trying to move this field forward,” Pratt said. TRI was founded just last year with a $1 billion investment, and has quickly grown from zero employees to 200. Toyota AI Ventures is funded to the tune of $100 million from the $1 billion that TRI itself was founded with just last year. The new fund will focus on four areas: artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics and autonomous vehicle mobility. It plans to issue what Pratt called “call and response” requests, and might pick the best two or three to help develop. “Toyota provides funding, but also is a customer, but not the only customer — but a customer they can depend on,” Pratt said. It has already funded three companies — Nauto, which monitors driving behaviors; SLAMcore, which is developing a low-cost mapping system; and Intuition Robotics, which makes social robotic systems. “It’s the beginning of a much larger pool of investments that we plan to make,” he said. Pratt was the keynote speaker on the first day of the conference, following conference opener Malcolm Dougherty, director of the California Department of Transportation. He said California has approved a spending package of $50 billion over the next decade, which includes money for cities and counties to focus on autonomous technology. It includes money for maintaining roads and bridges, but also requires projects to take into account future connected vehicle or autonomous technologies, “so we are accommodating that future look.” That could lead to mass distribution of collision avoidance systems, lane keeping, detect and avoid technology and ways to reduce distracted driving, he said. “If we do all those things, thousands of lives can be saved, not only in California, but across the country,” he said. The state passed regulations for testing driverless vehicles in 2014, and 36 companies, from established automakers to startups, are now testing on public roads in the state. Rules covering the actual operation of such vehicles are still in the works, and draft regulations were published in March. One big change is that “the new regulations would allow for driverless testing, completely driverless testing … and operation of those vehicles would be allowed,” he said. Current regulations require a steering wheel, gas pedal and other things not needed for self-driving cars. << Back to the News << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   Deveron UAS Corp., which provides enterprise drone data services for agriculture, and is a nationally compliant, Transport Canada-licensed UAS operator, has announced a collaboration with FS PARTNERS (FSP), which is a leading agronomy service provider in Ontario, Canada that has six hubs that span across the province. As a result of the partnership, FSP will offer its customers Deveron’s on-demand UAS data service, and Deveron will fly more farm acres with UAS. “This is yet another important relationship for us as it increases our market penetration in Ontario, where there are over 7 million acres of farmland,” says David MacMillan, Deveron’s President & CEO . “It also highlights the value of Deveron’s business model, which is that farming companies don’t want to own drones - they want to focus on making decisions from data that help their customers grow crops more efficiently.” Steve Rongits, Agronomy and Energy Risk Manager at FSP, adds, “our new partnership with Deveron allows for greater efficiency in our operations, and greater coverage by air. This will allow for even more precision agronomy opportunities across our service area, allowing more local growers to optimize their efforts in real time in the field.” << Back to
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Tweet by AUVSI News   The United States Coast Guard is looking for a small UAS to use on its Legend-class national security cutters, to enhance the performance of these already versatile systems. Among many missions, the cutters are used to intercept suspect vessels, patrol coastal waters, and undertake homeland security and counterterrorism missions. “As long as we have been talking about this class of ship, there has always been the expectation that there would be an unmanned system involved,” says Cmdr. Dan Broadhurst, unmanned aircraft systems division chief in the Coast Guard's aviation capabilities office, via C4ISRNET.com . The service will evaluate different platforms under a draft request for proposals (RFP) that was issued in the spring. The hope is that a full RFP, which is asking for “a holistic package, including the people, the antennas, the software,” can be issued by the end of the year. According to C4ISRNET.com, a fiscal 2018 award “would bring advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities along with search-and-rescue enhancements to nine vessels.” Thus far, the service has looked at several systems that are capable of being used, but these UAS have price tags extending into the millions, so the service is looking for cheaper alternatives from the industry. The core of the payload for whatever UAS is chosen will be mainstay electro-optical and infrared systems, but the Coast Guard is also looking for a platform that can offer persistence, or the ability to execute missions for up to 12 hours at a time. The Coast Guard is also looking for a vendor that can supply the platform, as well as the expertise necessary to operate the UAS, since operating UAS requires a certain level of technical proficiency that is not readily available across the service, according to Jeffrey Bishop, program manager for small unmanned aircraft systems. Bishop elaborates on this point by saying, “at this point, the government as the operator is definitely off the table for this piece of the acquisition. We don’t have the people with the needed skill sets to operate these vehicles.” Eventually down the line, the Coast Guard would like to see its UAS fleet incorporate a degree of autonomy, so that it can, among many things, be able to detect other craft and avoid collisions. “These are going to be the keys to the kingdom with unmanned systems,” says Broadhurst. << Back to
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Tweet On July 1, the 15th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was launched into the Menominee River at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard, by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team. Lockheed's Indago Quadcopter UAS was used to provide aerial footage of the event. The Indago weighs less than five pounds, is collapsible, and thanks to its ability to be equipped with a variety of payloads, the UAS is usable for several applications, including mapping, precision agriculture and reconnaissance. LCS 15, which will undergo additional outfitting and testing at Fincantieri Marinette Marine before its anticipated delivery in 2018, is the future USS Billings, making it the first U.S. Navy ship to have the same name as the largest city in the state of Montana. “I know the people of Billings - and all Montanans - look forward to supporting Billings and her future crews for decades to come,” says ship sponsor Sharla D. Tester , who christened LCS 15 just prior to the launch by breaking a champagne bottle across the ship's bow. Tester expressed the significance of being ship sponsor by saying, “there is no greater honor than to serve as the sponsor of the future USS Billings and to help bring this magnificent warship one step closer to joining the fleet.” Right now, the Lockheed Martin-led industry team is in full-rate production of the Freedom-variant of the LCS, and thus far, has delivered four ships to the U.S. Navy. Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ships and Systems, says, “the Freedom-variant LCS plays a critical role in the U.S. Navy's fleet, and we are committed to getting Billings and her highly capable sister ships into combatant commanders' hands as quickly as possible.” “These flexible ships will help the Navy achieve its goals of growing the fleet rapidly and affordably.” According to Lockheed, the future USS Billings is “one of eight ships in various stages of construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, with one more in long-lead production.” << Back to the News Photo Courtesy of Lockheed Martin << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   The SAIC Innovation Center in Silicon Valley, which in 2015 was established as a subsidiary of China’s state-owned automaker SAIC Motor, has received a permit to test its autonomous vehicles on the roads in California. SAIC Motor is the 35th organization to receive a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test its autonomous vehicles in the state.   The permit covers two vehicles and one driver, according to an email that was sent to CNBC from a DMV spokesman . Earlier this year, SAIC said its self-driving cars have compiled more than 12,000 miles each in road tests, but it did not say how many self-driving vehicles were in its fleet.  << Back to
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Tweet Before leaving for the Independence Day recess, congressional committees with oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration approved separate pieces of legislation in the U.S. House and Senate to reauthorize the agency and provide it with funding. The bills included many provisions advocated by AUVSI to expand policy for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems. In the House, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s legislative package directs the FAA to develop a rulemaking process to certify UAS Traffic Management services, opening a pathway for an operational UTM system. It also establishes an exemption process for deploying UTM in low-risk areas, such as in lower-level altitudes over cropland and other areas that are away from congested airspace. The House measure also provides for government studies on issues impacting the UAS community. They include a Government Accountability Office report on the roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local governments concerning UAS operations. Another study would analyze the financing of UAS services by the FAA and how to sustain them. In its UAS Policy Priorities , AUVSI says additional FAA funding is needed to expand a regulatory structure to foster further integration of UAS into the national airspace. Also, the House directs the FAA to update its UAS integration roadmap, which was created in the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill, and for the Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense to use their combined expertise to develop a coordinated policy for the development and deployment of counter-UAS technology. The bill passed by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee before Congress left on its July Fourth break also includes a study on government jurisdiction of UAS, as well as a report on spectrum coordination across government stakeholders. According to its policy priorities, AUVSI says “such a dialogue is imperative to diminish inefficiencies and constraints on the UAS industry that might otherwise result from the implementation of a haphazard spectrum strategy.” Additionally, the Senate bill urges the FAA to publish procedures for conducting emergency operations by civil operators, which is another long-standing AUVSI policy priority. There is language in both bills to reinstate the requirement that modelers and hobbyists register with the FAA to operate UAS. The issue was at the center of a recent federal court decision , which ruled the FAA did not have the authority to establish rules or regulations for model aircraft. The FAA’s UAS Registration Service was created in 2015 to increase accountability and safety across the entire aviation community. The court’s ruling did not apply to commercial UAS operators, who are required by the FAA to register each UAS platform in their fleets. “The UAS provisions in the House and Senate FAA reauthorization bills represent a strong and sustained commitment for the growth of commercial UAS in the United States,” said AUVSI President and CEO Brian Wynne. “Congress has clearly embraced the need to propel the country forward on the march toward full UAS integration, including beyond-line-of-sight operations, flights over people, access to higher altitudes and even package delivery. We look forward to working with both the House and the Senate to realize the full potential of UAS.” FAA reauthorization is expected to be considered ...
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Weekend Roundup

Tweet This Week in the Unmanned Systems and Robotics World An Oxbotica-developed autonomous vehicle called CargoPod is being used in London to deliver groceries to customers. The vehicle has eight pods on the back of it, and each pod has a crate that can hold three bags of groceries. After the vehicle is filled by human hands from a small distribution center, it sets off following a route to its drop-offs. Once the CargoPod arrives at its destination, the customer is alerted through a smartphone. That customer must then press a button on the vehicle to open the pod door, allowing them to collect their groceries. ( MIT Technology Review ) Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) in Kalispell, Montana will begin offering two new courses, called UAS for Commercial Operations, and Unmanned Aerial Mapping Systems, which are both aimed at teaching students how to use UAS. The courses, which will each be worth two credits, will fit into the school’s Geospatial Technology Certificate, which is a new offering from the school. FVCC will also offer another course, called Introduction to Drone Flight and Photography, through its Continuing Education program, but that course will not offer any credits. ( Daily Inter Lake ) The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is offering a free summer program, in which it will offer high school students that are deaf and hard of hearing the opportunity to explore different career options in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). The program will encourage students to get hands on experience with UAS and robotic technology, and provide them with information that can help them make a decision on a potential major as they begin to look at colleges. The program will also offer students the opportunity to build and fly their own 3-D printed UAS using a Raspberry Pi-based laptop, and they will also tour the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. ( Electronics 360 ) A STEM camp focused on unmanned vehicles gave middle and high school students in Florida the chance to learn first-hand about UAS, underwater vehicles and robots. Gulf Coast State College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the Panhandle Area Education Consortium teamed up to put the camp on, and the camp was also used to draw to attention to the unmanned vehicle system programs at Gulf Coast State and Embry-Riddle. ( Mypanhandle.com ) Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) has announced that it is expanding autonomous vehicle (AV) testing trials outside of the One North district. The trials will expand to neighboring areas such as the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Science Park 1 and 2, Dover and Buona Vista. By expanding to these areas, the LTA is hoping that technology development will be accelerated, by giving AV trial participants the chance to experience more on-road scenarios. ( Land Transport Authority ) Self-driving vehicles recently underwent road tests in Okinawa, which is a Japanese prefecture. During the tests, two four-seater electric carts equipped with routing technology drove near hotels and tourist facilities in Chatan, which is on the west coast of Okinawa Island. The tests were conducted by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (and other firms), and according to the Institute, future tests will involve driverless microbuses, as they travel short distances in other regions. ( The Japan Times ) Schiebel’s ...
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Tweet Delair-Tech, based in both France and California, announced it has used 3G cell phone connectivity to allow its DT18 drone to fly beyond line of sight to inspect power lines in France. In early June, the company flew the aircraft for more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) for the company RTE, inspecting power lines between the towns of Samur and Poitiers, using only 3G connections to navigate. “That’s a major step forward for beyond line of sight flight,” says Benjamin Benharrosh, the company’s cofounder. French airspace regulators were present for the flight, and Benharrosh said the company would like to present the results to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration as well. The company usually relies on 3G as a backup connection source, and this was the first time it was the primary source. The aircraft was “jumping from one operator to another on the strength of the signal” as the flight went along, he said, using the link for both command and control and real-time video. Delair-Tech also wants to use 4G or LTE connectivity for future flights, which would allow the aircraft to send more data. Puget Energy tests The company also announced in June that it has performed a series of tests for Puget Sound Energy, using lidar and photogrammetry sensors to demonstrate the use of unmanned aircraft for infrastructure inspections. “The mission successfully proves Delair America’s readiness to deploy its custom solutions within the U.S. now that the Part 107 regulations are in place,” Benharrosh says. Puget Sound Energy was given a point cloud and a digitized model of the transmission lines after the demonstration, which used the company’s DT18 and DT26 aircraft flying for three weeks, including one week of training, and operating in a remote area. The effort was a “proof of concept,” Benharroush says. Puget Sound Energy is interesting in making further use of unmanned aircraft, but is currently hamstrung by beyond visual line of sight rules. << Back to the News << Back
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Tweet On June 29, the Government of Malawi and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) launched an air corridor, known as the Humanitarian UAV Testing Corridor, to test the potential use of UAS for humanitarian efforts. The Humanitarian UAV Testing Corridor, which will be used to facilitate testing in the areas of imagery, connectivity, and transport, is the first corridor in Africa, and one of the first in the world, that has a specific focus on humanitarian and development use. “This humanitarian drone testing corridor can significantly improve our efficiency and ability to deliver services to the world's most vulnerable children,” says Christopher Fabian, UNICEF Office of Global Innovation Principal Adviser . “The success of these trials will depend on working in new ways with the private sector, government and local entrepreneurs and engineers who can ensure that technologies deliver appropriate solutions for the people who need them the most.” The corridor, which will operate for at least a year until June 2018, will offer entities from the private sector, as well as universities and other partners, a controlled platform to explore how UAS can be used to help provide services to help communities.  The launch of this corridor was announced in December 2016, and since then, 12 companies, universities and NGOs from around the world have already applied to use it. The launch of the corridor follows a pilot project in Malawi that took place in March 2016. The project focused on the possibility of using UAS for the transportation of dried blood samples for early infant diagnosis of HIV. The study was successful, as it showed that UAS were a feasible addition to existing transport systems, such as those used to help with the diagnosis of HIV. UAS have also been used in Malawi after major weather events, as UNICEF deployed drones to support the Government of Malawi’s response to floods that took place earlier this year. The UAS helped assess the needs of affected families by providing aerial footage. UNICEF Malawi Representative Johannes Wedenig explains why this technology could be beneficial in the country by saying, “Malawi has limited road access to rural areas even at the best of times, and after a flash flood earth roads can turn to rivers, completely cutting off affected communities.” “With UAVs we can easily fly over the affected area and see clearly what the impact has been on the ground. This is cheaper and (a) better resolution than satellite images.” Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango says that the country is the perfect place for the integration of UAS technology. “Malawi has over the years proved to be a leader in innovation and it is this openness to innovation that has led to the establishment of Africa’s first drones testing corridor here in Malawi,” Mhango says. << Back to the News On 28 June 2017, the UNICEF Innovation team tests an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), also known as a drone, carrying a cargo payload box, which can potentially carry humanitarian supplies at Kasungu Aerodrome in central Malawi. Photo Courtesy of UNICEF. << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   AkitaBox, which is a facility management software company that automates maintenance, planning and inspections, has announced a partnership with commercial UAS and data company PrecisionHawk, which will result in the two working together to integrate aerial data into the facility management workflow.   Through the partnership, AkitaBox’s customers will have access to PrecisionHawk’s UAS packages and services to improve visibility for inspections, surveys and scans of a worksite. AkitaBox is hopeful that by offering better data capture capabilities, it will advance technology in the facility management space, which can ultimately yield better business outcomes for its clients. “AkitaBox understands the facilities process and the gaps that drone data can fill,” says Jeff Freund, VP Construction at PrecisionHawk . “By integrating PrecisionHawk technology they are providing their customers with another layer of information on top of their already robust software platform.”  Using PrecisionHawk’s platform, a UAS can be flown to capture data and automatically generate a 3D point cloud, 2D orthographic views and 3D mesh data models. This information can be fed into AkitaBox, and utilized for further analysis and long term planning. “PrecisionHawk brings an easy to use, cost effective and timely platform that gives our clients a complete picture of their external assets that can be used for everything from facility maintenance to cost planning,” says Josh Lowe, Chief Customer Officer at AkitaBox. PrecisionHawk’s Smarter Package includes a UAS equipped with sensors and software that allow for “the automatic, visual assessment of all external areas of a site and places that otherwise would be difficult to see.” Through this process, a project manager no longer needs to physically inspect every aspect of a site. The PrecisionHawk Smarter Package is also extremely supportive of urban property management, as it allows for users to cover a larger area and receive close to real time data without resolution limitations. << Back to
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Tweet by AUVSI News   About 60 students and staff from Oklahoma State University (OSU), and the universities of Kentucky, Oklahoma and Nebraska, are spending the week of June 26 flying UAS at OSU’s Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station, to collect data on weather.  This is the second year that the universities have come together to test UAS and their ability to improve weather forecasting, and the students seem to enjoy the collaborative environment as they work with students from different universities on a shared challenge. “We look forward to this every year,” says Caleb Canter, a mechanical engineering master’s student at University of Kentucky, via an article from the Stillwater News Press . Canter, who collected data on turbulence, adds, “we get to compare how other schools use drones and learn from it.” Thanks to being accessorized with sensors, approximately 20 UAS of various shapes and sizes were used to collect different types of data, including temperature, wind speed, humidity and pressure. One of the UAS used, named Maggie, made its maiden voyage, and it performed admirably, as it collected data from multiple elevations during its 40 minutes in the air. The research being conducted by the four universities, which is being funded by a four year, six-million-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, is a part of the CLOUD MAP project, which stands for Collaboration Leading Operational UAS Development for Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics. << Back to
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Tweet by AUVSI News   Transport Canada (TC) has added Microdrones’ md4-1000 UAS to its exclusive list of Compliant Unmanned Air Systems, making Microdrones one of just eight companies in the world to earn such a distinction. In order to earn compliance, Microdrones had to submit an assortment of application materials, including flight, maintenance, and systems design manuals.  “This compliance means that our platform meets a certain level of safety and will provide users with the opportunity to become a TC-compliant organization, gaining access to all the related advantages,"  says Sebastien Long, Microdrones' Sales Manager for Canada .  "We are proud to have achieved compliance and it is especially meaningful that it was granted by Transport Canada." Operators who are deemed compliant by Transport Canada may be granted greater geographic flexibility, allowing them to potentially conduct beyond visual line of sight flights, as well as flights in restricted areas, and closer to airports or cities. Operators may also benefit from “extended validity, streamlined renewal, and priority processing of Special Flight Operations Certificates (SFOC).”  Known for developing the world’s first commercial quadcopter, Microdrones’ mdMapper platforms are especially beneficial to the industry when it comes to flights involving aerial surveying and mapping. The mdMapper packages include everything that a company needs to get started, including the aircraft, sensors, and software.   The mdMapper packages that include the compliant md4-1000 UAS are the mdMapper1000 and the mdMapper1000DG. Each have their own unique capabilities that make them stand out. Capable of extra-long flight times, the mdMapper1000 can withstand harsh environmental conditions, making it an ideal choice for applications such as surveying, mapping, inspection, and construction. The mdMapper1000DG includes the same benefits as the mdMapper1000, and adds the power of direct georeferencing, which combine to produce the “best possible accuracy and time savings with no ground control points.” << Back to
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Tweet American meat and cold cut production company Oscar Mayer has announced that it is expanding its WienerFleet to include a brand new WienerDrone, which will be the first hot dog-carrying UAS designed to make deliveries in remote locations. The announcement of the new WienerDrone, as well as a new WienerCycle, comes after Oscar Mayer recently announced a major recipe overhaul across its entire portfolio, in which the company has removed all “added nitrates and nitrites1, by-products and artificial preservatives from the meat in its entire line of hot dogs.” “We’re committed to getting our new hot dog in everyone’s hands – and going to great lengths to do this,” says Greg Guidotti, head of marketing at Oscar Mayer . “We knew that was a job for more than just our existing Wienermobile. So, we’ve expanded our Oscar Mayer fleet, ensuring every American can taste the new recipe because we believe everyone deserves a better hot dog.” The new WienerDrone and WienerCycle will join the company’s current WienerFleet, which includes the Wienermobile, the WienerMini and the WienerRover. The five vehicles will make their way to Weiner, Arkansas for a Fourth of July celebration, as they set out to provide hot dogs to the entire town. << Back to the News Photo Courtesy of Business Wire << Back
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Tweet by AUVSI News   Unmanned delivery robots can now legally travel on sidewalks and in crosswalks in Florida, after Governor Rick Scott signed a new law that permits their operation in the state, as long as a human can take over operation of the robots remotely in the event that something goes wrong. Florida joins Virginia, Idaho and Wisconsin, who all finalized similar legislation in their respective states earlier this year. These state laws were passed with the support of Starship Technologies, a company that creates these types of robots, and has been testing them in in Redwood City, California and Washington, D.C. this year. Lobbyists for Starship worked on all of the state proposals. Starship’s robots are used to deliver packages, such as food or retail items ordered online, directly to the doorsteps of customers. The robots weigh 45 pounds when empty, which falls below the 80-pound cut off mark implemented by the new law. The law also says that the robots cannot travel faster than 10 miles per hour.  While Starship currently isn’t operating in Florida, a representative from the company tells Recode.net that Starship plans on launching a pilot program in Florida sometime this year.  << Back to
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Tweet by AUVSI News   Canada’s UAS Centre of Excellence can now begin operations at its test range in Alma, Quebec, after receiving approval from Transport Canada. Besides facilitating research and development, the test range will provide the UAS industry with “dedicated, restricted airspace,” where beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights can be carried out. “Transport Canada is proud of the progress we are making to support innovation and research in Canada’s drone sector,” says Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport . “By partnering with the industry and our communities, we are making great strides as we continue to facilitate research and development and leverage technology to fulfil our mandate.” In partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Arctic UAV Inc., Transport Canada will be one of the first entities to operate at the new test range, when it begins trials using a Sea-Hunter UAS. The trials will offer hands on experience on how to operate sophisticated UAS, and will also help develop “procedures, training, and risk assessment tools for surveillance operations in Northern Canada.” In an effort to stay up to date with everything that is unmanned, Transport Canada plans to acquire a system that would use UAS to survey ice and oil spills in the Canadian Arctic. Over the next three years, Arctic UAV will also conduct various research and development flight trials, after being awarded a contract from Transport Canada. << Back to
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Tweet by AUVSI News   A transport operator called FirstGroup will conduct research on shared autonomous vehicles at the Concord, California-based GoMentum Station, after signing an agreement with the federally designated automated vehicle proving ground. Through the partnership, First Transit, which is a United States division of the United Kingdom-headquartered FirstGroup, will use the 2,000-hectare test facility as a test site for “innovative transport applications.” One of the applications that First Transit will use the test facility for is a pilot project that began back in 2016, which seeks to deploy the “first commercially operated shared autonomous vehicle on public roads in the United States.” “The partnership with GoMentum Station allows us to identify new mobility solutions for our customers using shared autonomous vehicle technology,” says Brad Thomas, president of First Transit . “We see the broad application of this technology as a great first and last mile solution plus countless other transportation challenges.” Currently, GoMentum Station is being used by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and its partners, as they work to accelerate the next generation of transportation technologies. Randell Iwasaki, Executive Director of CCTA, says, “the partnership with First Transit expands the international reach of GoMentum Station, and will provide a unique opportunity for multi-modal testing with a firm that specializes in transit operations.”  Iwasaki adds, "this will enable us to explore how automated vehicles can complement and enhance existing mobility options.” << Back to
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Tweet by AUVSI News   Orange County, New York’s Emergency Services Department will begin using UAS for a variety of tasks around the county. The UAS program will be overseen by Deputy Commissioner of Emergency Services Alan Mack. Mack, who is a licensed UAS operator and recent retiree from the U.S. Army, is looking forward to getting this new technology into the sky. “The drones will be a valuable tool in many emergency situations and we are eager to put this program into practice,” Mack says via the Hudson Valley News Network .  The county began pursuing UAS after a CSX freight train carrying sulfuric acid and other hazardous materials derailed in Newburgh, New York back in March. After participating in a Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP) full-scale exercise five months earlier, which simulated a rail emergency involving the transportation of Bakken crude oil, first responders and officials were prepared for the March derailment, and were able to successfully coordinate during the incident, but now, they will be able to use this new technology to replace humans in these dangerous situations. “Firemen were sent into potentially dangerous areas to look for leaks after the train in Newburgh derailed,” says Commissioner of Emergency Services Brendan Casey.  “The UAV program will allow us to send drones into hazardous areas such as these.” Casey says that the main uses for the UAS will include responding to fires and hazardous-material spills/incidents, such as the one in March, as well as for search and rescue operations, and storm/disaster mitigation and evaluation.  << Back to
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