Virtual Surveyor 6.1 now handles on-thefly projections that previously required a separate software package to set the data in the proper coordinate system. It has become popular among surveyors because it bridges the gap between UAV photogrammetric processing applications and engineering CAD packages. The software generates an interactive onscreen environment with UAV orthophotos and digital surface models where the surveyor selects survey points and breaklines to define the topography, creating highly accurate topographic products for CAD input up to five times faster than otherwise possible. www.virtual-surveyor.com.
On November 28, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released the first ever draft global standard for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations. The standard, titled Draft International Standard for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations, represents an important step in standardizing UAS operations around the world. Although ISO will publish the standard for global adoption starting in 2019, compliance is not mandatory. The standard is nevertheless important because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and sister agencies worldwide will likely use it as a foundation for future rulemaking. Operators, service providers, and manufacturers should thus strongly consider early adoption of the standard in preparing for forthcoming regulation.
The draft, ISO 21384-3, is the first in a four-part series of UAS standards that ISO is currently developing. The next three draft standards are to address general specifications, manufacturing, and unmanned traffic management. This maiden draft addresses operational procedures, making it particularly relevant to anyone who operates UAS for commercial purposes. The draft standard covers safety, autonomous operations, data protection, and overall operational etiquette. The standard, not surprisingly, first directs UAS operators to follow the existing statutes and regulations of the operators’ jurisdictions. But it also provides guidance for use in the absence of specific regulations. www.lexology.com
Drone Delivery Systems and FlytBase have announced a partnership for the development of a precision landing kit, compatible with any delivery drone, to allow for secure and precise drone delivery to AirBox Home, which is the world’s first smart drone delivery mailbox. https://uavcoach.com
Boeing and SparkCognition to Launch Joint Venture SkyGrid
Boeing and SparkCognition have recently launched SkyGrid, a new company that will enable the future of urban aerial mobility. Based in Austin, Texas, SkyGrid will develop a software platform to ensure the safe, secure integration of autonomous cargo and passenger air vehicles in the global airspace. Using blockchain technology, AI-enabled dynamic traffic routing, data analytics and cybersecurity features, SkyGrid’s platform will go beyond unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management (UTM). www.sparkcognition.com.
DARPA conducts autonomous drone operations against communications and GPS jamming
DARPA has conducted a demonstration test series at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, USA, showcasing its Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment program for autonomous drone operations in the face of enemy jamming and area-denial efforts.
In the test, deployed CODE-equipped unmanned aerial systems adapted to unexpected threats in an anti-access area denial environment. The drones shared information, planned and allocated mission objectives and tactical decisions among themselves, and operated with a minimal of communications to represent possible enemy jamming.
The tests began with the mission commander interacting with and directing the drones until communications were deemed degraded or cut off. The CODE vehicles then autonomously continued the mission plan without live human direction and communicated with each other on the best ways to accomplish their objectives. This ability would be vital towards long range engagements of mobile ground and maritime targets in high-threat or denied areas, according to DARPA.
Scientists from Stanford and EPFL in Switzerland created a new microdrone that can pull objects that weigh 40 times its own weight. FlyCroTug, a microdrone has the capacity to lift 40 times of its own weight with the use of interchangeable adhesives on the drone’s base.
Microspines on the FlyCroTug’s base allow it to dig into rough surfaces, such as carpet or dirt, in order to get traction for pulling. For smooth surfaces, like glass, ridged silicone on the base allows the drone to grab the surface using a kind of suction grip. Both of these adhesives only grip in one direction, so they can be easily removed if need be. Using these adhesives, the FlyCroTug, which weighs only 100 grams (.22 pounds), can pull up to four kilograms (or 8 pounds).
Mobile Recon Systems has announced a new unmanned multi-rotor air vehicle (UAV) capable of lifting more than its own weight. This model, called “Dauntless”, is designed to set new records for what multirotor UAVs can carry. At 78 pounds, the Dauntless has easily lifted an additional payload of 100 pounds as a tethered quadcopter. It is designed to lift over 200 pounds as an octocopter, with a generatorpowered flight time of several hours.