Austrian drones fly high, over Ukraine

An Austrian-made high-tech drone is set to assist monitor a ceasefire been Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels.

In the middle of the Austrian countryside, a few sleek, high-tech drones sit in a bright production hall, ready for missions over Ukraine, the Mediterranean or the Middle East.

Schiebel, a small company originally specialised in landmine detection, has been manufacturing Camcopters – a 3.5-metre long mini-helicopter equipped with cameras, radars and other sensors – for close to 10 years.

But it has gained prominence with a new mission in Ukraine, where the Camcopter will assist observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to monitor a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels.

Before this, there were surveillance missions at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the G20 summit in Seoul – a surprising feat perhaps for a company from a small alpine country not usually known for high-tech defence firms.

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Interview with DJI: Future of the Phantom quadcopters


Quadcopters – or ‘small drones’ as they are also known – are enjoying a meteoritic rise in popularity. One brand in particular appears to have made a name for itself in the market. Just like ‘GoPro’ for many people has become synonymous to action camera, ‘DJI Phantom’ increasingly seems to be the first and indeed only quadcopter that comes to mind.

The Phantom is a small aircraft with four propellers, a built-in flight controller with gyroscopes, compass and GPS and a matching white remote control which works at a range of up to one kilometer. DJI is currently offering the second generation of its Phantom, available without camera and in ‘Vision’ and ‘Vision Plus’ models, which respectively add a high definition camera and a high definition camera with gimbal. Prices range from about 550 euros for the regular Phantom 2 to about 1150 euro’s for the Phantom 2 Vision with gyroscopically stabilized gimbal.

Hardware.Info caught up with DJI Innovations PR Manager Michael Perry to talk about the success of the current products and to see if we can get a glimpse of what DJI Innovations has in store for the coming generations of Phantom quadcopters.


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Le Sueur County to pioneer drone mapping

Le Sueur County to pioneer drone mappingIf Tim Briggs’ unmanned aerial vehicle works as well as he hopes, it could soon be capturing precise imagery of Le Sueur County’s farm drainage network.

The New Prague radio-controlled airplane hobbyist and former Navy sensor expert said he will likely be the first Minnesota resident to fly a drone for a county with Federal Aviation Administration approval.

At this point, their plan is to do what the county has done before — capture aerial images of terrain for use with mapping software — but more cheaply and frequently than could be accomplished by plane. If Briggs can deliver on that promise, he believes other counties are likely to seek out his services, as well.

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CSAIL’s Nick Roy helms Google’s delivery-drone project

Nick Roy

Friends and colleagues were aware, at some level, that Nick Roy, a researcher in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), had been using his sabbatical to take on some sort of robotics-related role at Google.

But few people knew the full scope of his work until this past week, when Google X — the infamous idea incubator known for Google Glass, self-driving cars, and wireless hot-air balloons — unveiled a video introducing Project Wing, an ambitious delivery-drone initiative that Roy has overseen for the past two years.

At Google X’s secret Mountain View headquarters, Roy, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics, led a team of several dozen autonomy experts to determine the technical feasibility of self-flying delivery vehicles.

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Amazon looks to gain liftoff for drone delivery testing

Amazon is going on the offensive as it seeks federal approval to test its planned Prime Air drone delivery system.

You are not likely to get a Prime Air drop on your porch anytime this year, or even next, but the online retailer, which announced plans for drone delivery last December on 60 Minutes, is making moves to spur development.

Amazon recently banded together with several makers of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to create a coalition to speed federal action. And the e-tailer is also buttressing its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.

“Amazon Prime Air is participating in several groups … that share Congress’ goal of getting small UAVs flying commercially in the United States safely and soon,” said Paul Misener, the company’s vice president of global public policy.

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Drones bring a bird’s eye view of Essex: UK Aerovision

Echo: Drones bring a bird’s eye view of Essex

THE latest aircraft flying from an Essex airfield have dispensed with a piece of kit long considered rather vital in aviation – a pilot.

The vintage grass-strip airfield at Stow Maries – so vintage that tarmac is still considered a cool invention – opened in 1916, when aviation was still in its infancy.

Now this sleepy place from the dawn of flight finds itself at the cutting edge of 21st-century flight technology.

The Great War aerodrome recently became the test base for UK Aerovision, a leading operator of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) – known to the general public as drones.

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GPRC offering ground school training for unmanned aerial vehicles

Unmanned aerial vehicle during demonstration at GPRC Fairview last year

The Peace Country UVS Partnership (PCUVSP) is pleased to announce that the Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) Continuing Education is offering a one and a half day Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Ground School course at the Fairview Campus.

The course will cover topics such as aerodynamics, air law, Canadian Aviation Regulations, communications and weather.

Upon completion the student will have all of the tools to confidently prepare a Transport Canada Special Flight Operations Certificate submission.

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Senate revamps House’s drone bill

DES MOINES — A Senate subcommittee Tuesday passed a revamped version of legislation designed to create parameters for the use of drones, otherwise known as unmanned aerial vehicles.

The revised version of House File 2289 would make the intrusive use of a drone to violate someone else’s privacy or private property rights would be a criminal offense punishable under the state’s trespassing law, said Sen. Rich Taylor, D-Mount Pleasant.

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DRONES: Quickly Navigating Toward Commercial Application

Not too long ago, when most people heard the word “drones,” they thought of unmanned military aircraft engaged in highly controversial clandestine operations. But when Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon was testing the idea of delivering packages via drones, he made drones with popular commercial application suddenly seem like a viable proposition.

While drones are unlikely to become a part of our daily lives in the immediate future,  they will soon begin taking on much larger roles for businesses and some individual consumers, from delivering groceries to revolutionizing private security, to changing the way farmers manage their crops — perhaps even aerial advertising.

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FAA selected Six Drone Testing Sites

FotokiteOn December 30, 2013, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected six UAS test site operators that will allow the agency to develop research findings and operational experiences to help ensure the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace as they transition in what they refer to as a system featuring NextGen technologies and procedures. Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia are the states that will host these research sites. On these locations, researchers will develop and test new drone technologies to fly safely the same skies shared by commercial planes.

The agency’s activities must address the needs of a diverse aviation community while ensuring current users both in the air and on the ground remain safe.

The FAA announced the following six applicants had been selected to operate the UAS test sites. These six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity.

  • University of Alaska.  The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation.  Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations.
  • State of  Nevada. Nevada’s project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant’s research will also include a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen.  Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.
  • New York’s Griffiss International Airport.  Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.
  • North Dakota Department of Commerce.  North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology. This applicant will also conduct human factors research. North Dakota’s application was the only one to offer a test range in the Temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users.
  • Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.  Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climactic diversity.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).  Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.

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