Tighter drone regulations affect agricultural use

Restrictions to within nine kilometres of an ‘aerodrome’ affect much of agricultural Manitoba

Assiniboine Community College’s agribusiness program has grounded most drone flights while professors sort through new regulations around their operation.

The new Transport Canada rules released March 16 limit recreational drones between 250 grams and 35 kilograms to within 90 metres of the ground, at least 75 metres away from structures, people or vehicles, to daylight hours only and at least nine kilometres away from any “aerodrome.” That’s defined as “airports, heliports and seaplane bases or anywhere that aircraft take off and land,” which includes small airports in rural areas. Continue reading

New rules for flying recreational drones in Canada revealed

Recreational drone users can’t fly higher than 90 metres or at night or they’ll face fines

Transport Minister Marc Garneau announces new safety restrictions on recreational drones at Billy Bishop airport in Toronto on Thursday.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau announces new safety restrictions on recreational drones at Billy Bishop airport in Toronto on Thursday. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

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RCMP’s new eye in the sky


Greg McCormick, a communications operator in Charlottetown, shows off a new tool in the Prince Edward Island RCMP’s tool chest, an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV. The UAV is a six-bladed helicopter about the size of a large pizza with a mount for a camera.

This unmanned aerial vehicle allows officers on the ground to see what the camera sees 300-feet in the air

They don’t fire missiles or drop bombs, but the RCMP in P.E.I. have added an unmanned aerial vehicle to the tools they use to do their jobs.

Greg McCormick, a communications operator in Charlottetown, flies the remote controlled helicopter that he says isn’t a drone and doesn’t have the same capabilities as those in the military’s arsenal.

“The only thing these things share, they’re best described as distant cousins,” he said.

The RCMP’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is a six-bladed helicopter about the size of a large pizza with a mount for a camera that feeds back to a display on the ground so its operator can see what the camera sees.

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Northrop Grumman, NASA fly UAS over Canadian airspace

Right now, the best place to get permission to fly an unmanned aircraft system seems to be the Arctic, a fact that was once again proven recently when Northrop Grumman and NASA flew a Global Hawk UAS in Canadian airspace for the first time to study the Canadian Arctic.

The two groups, along with a team of international science organizations, flew a Global Hawk equipped with an Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) as well as a high-resolution camera to conduct ground mapping and visual observation of Arctic ice caps. (An image captured by the UAS is shown above.) Northrop Grumman says information collected during the flight will be used by American and Canadian scientists to study changes in topography and Arctic ice caps.

The 21-hour flight marks the first time the NASA Global Hawk has flown through Canadian civil airspace. The UAS departed from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and flew over key areas in the Arctic before returning.

Northrop Grumman notes that the mission comes after a five-year renewal of the Space Act Agreement partnership between Northrop Grumman and NASA that allows sharing of NASA Global Hawks for science missions and flight demonstrations.

Study urges privacy policy for potentially ‘intrusive’ unmanned drones

A small Draganflyer X6 drone is photographed during a test flight in Mesa County, Colo.,in a Jan.8, 2009 file photo. There must be clear policies about the sort of personal information flying drones are allowed to collect before Canadian police and others begin using them on a large scale, warns a new study released to The Canadian Press. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Mesa County Sheriff's Unmanned Operations Team)There must be clear policies about the sort of personal information flying drones are allowed to collect before Canadian police and others begin using them on a large scale, warns a new study.

The groundbreaking research report on drones — unmanned eyes in the sky — urges law enforcement agencies, governments and privacy commissioners to work together to ensure civil liberties are respected as more of the miniature craft take to the air.

It says unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, can offer potentially significant cost savings for police and could be useful for responding to emergencies or performing mundane chores.

However, the “potential for intrusive and massive surveillance” means public discussion is needed to reassure Canadians they will not be arbitrarily spied upon, the study concludes.

Ultimately, the federal government “lacks a clear policy” on the devices, it adds.

A copy of the study, to be released next week, was made available to The Canadian Press by authors Christopher Parsons and Adam Molnar of Block G Privacy and Security Consulting. They sifted through academic articles, court rulings and revealing Access to Information documents, uncovering many unanswered questions about the budding technology along the way.

The devices, which range in size from a bird to a small plane, are usually outfitted with cameras but can also carry thermal imaging devices, licence plate readers and laser radar. They can be potent military weapons and, in peacetime, are used for everything from filming movie scenes and detecting radiation to monitoring crowds and photographing accident scenes.

In Canada, UAVs are regulated by Transport Canada as aircraft under the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

The RCMP is eyeing creation of a national fleet of small helicopter-like drones with cameras to help investigate offences, reconstruct traffic accidents, and assist with search-and-rescue.

The Mounties have said they are not being used for general surveillance of people or vehicles.

The study notes keen interest from Canadian police forces, but says law enforcement agencies have not “sought feedback from the public on how UAVs should or should not be adopted as a tool to serve the public interest.”

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EION Delivers Secure High-Bandwidth Communication Links for UAVs – System Demonstrated For Canadian Forces

October 28, 2013 – EION Wireless, a global manufacturer of licensed and unlicensed broadband wireless access and backhaul products headquartered in Ottawa is pleased to announce that it will be presenting its Wireless Surveillance Support Solution at the 2013 CADSI SecureTech conference and tradeshow at the Ottawa Convention Centre on October 29 & 30. The EION StarAccess 2000 provides an extended three-dimensional WiFi “hot-spot” engineered for high reliability communications with small unmanned aerial vehicles (micro UAVs) in flight and other wireless security devices such as robots for handling suspicious packages, wide area multilateralization (WAM) systems for aircraft detection and fixed and mobile video cameras. The EION Wireless Surveillance Support Solution is ideal for real-time high definition video transfer on campus and at altitudes up to 400 feet.

High sensitivity receivers on the StarAccess 2000 support line-of-sight communications in excess of three kilometers providing service coverage of more than fourteen square kilometres. The StarAccess 2000 can be quickly deployed in the field providing interconnectivity to multiple devices or can be integrated into the fixed wireless communications coverage of critical or sensitive infrastructure. Line-of-sight backhaul from the “hot-spot” to broadband communications systems can be provided through EION’s 5.x GHz unlicensed StarPlus 5300 or on licensed frequencies using the Star4G mobility platform. All EION 5000 level systems are provided with ruggedized IP67 enclosures for harsh outdoor environments and AES encryption for secure data transfer.

The EION Surveillance Support Solution was demonstrated on October 4 at the Canadian Forces Connaught Ranges in Ottawa, Canada in association with the “Operation Foundation Thunder” fund raising event to support military families. The technology collaboration showcased the capabilities of several Ottawa region firms involved in the emerging micro UAV aerial surveillance market. The demonstration included a microUAV provided by Zariba Security (www.zaribasecurity.com) of Ottawa. Video and high resolution image data was managed using data aggregation and analysis tools developed and provided by FocalRecon (www.focalrecon.ca) of Ottawa. Real-time UAV video, data and voice (radio & telephone) was shared across multiple communications protocols and emergency responder agencies in Canada and the USA using Mutualink’s Interoperable Response And Preparedness Platform (I.R.A.P.P.) jointly provided by Inter-Op Canada of Montréal and Valley Associates of Ottawa. The demonstration was organized and coordinated by Information Systems Architects and Tri-Wolf Security.

The microUAV flew twenty-five minute missions under guided and automatic control at a maximum height of 400 feet and a maximum range of 2 kilometres capturing and relaying video and still image data of people, structures and terrain from a variety of elevations. The microUAV has a number of advanced navigation features that allowed it to be flown with minimal instruction by various Canadian Forces, police and civilian guests.

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MDA To Provide AeroVironment’s Raven UAV To Canada’s Department of National Defence

UAS_Raven_prodshot_lgMacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. has announced that it has been awarded a contract valued at $11.3 million with Canada’s Department of National Defence to “provide an Unmanned Aerial Surveillance solution. The solution includes the delivery of The Raven-B(R) unmanned aerial vehicles built by AeroVironment, MDA’s full-motion video exploitation tools, training, maintenance, and support services.”

The Raven is a small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) deployed by the U.S. Armed Forces. It can fly either manually or autonomously, and can be used for surveillance and reconnaissance for both commercial and military operations.
No other details were released.

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NC State steps up drone testing ahead of 2015 launch

The state that was once home to the world’s first aviators is now launching efforts to use pilotless planes in agriculture and other industries.

Unmanned aerial vehicles – commonly known as drones or UAVs – are widely used in the military. But as their civil applications become clear, N.C. State University and its transportation research centers are working to make the state a leader in UAV technology before 2015, the year UAVs may officially assume their place in the nation’s airspace.

Civil UAVs are far smaller and much less destructive than military drones.

With wingspans of just a few feet, they’re often launched by hand and outfitted with remote sensing equipment designed to collect detailed data from the air. UAVs are able to produce nuanced images of large land areas, rendering them particularly useful for commercial agriculture and geographic surveys.

Maple Ridge security firm close to flying drones

Maple Ridge security firm close to flying dronesMaple Ridge security company could soon provide public safety by air, as it gets set to launch aerial drones.Westridge Security Ltd. believes it will be the first private security company in B.C. to commercially fly the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).The drones should be ready for service in a few weeks, pending flight permit approval from Transport Canada. They can assist agencies in search and rescue tasks, firefighting, and bylaw enforcement, among other applications.

Drones are already in operation in B.C. — the RCMP have four.

But outside law enforcement, they are not yet widely used in B.C., although a Vancouver company, North Guardian UAV Services Canada, has been demonstrating the devices for Lower Mainland search and rescue teams.

Ridge Meadows Seach and Rescue Team manager Rick Liang said the drones could offer a cost-effective alternative to the use of helicopters and aircraft.

“We may be able to fly them in weather that we wouldn’t be able to fly a helicopter in, or search in drainages or gullies that it would be tricky to investigate,” Liang said. “Most of us in SAR are excited by the thought of it. It’s certainly another tool.”