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Sep 2014 | No Comment

Full-Featured UAV-Based Remote Sensing Solution

Headwall has launched a fully integrated remote sensing solution, combining hyperspectral and LiDAR sensors on a small Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV). The UAV is a multi-rotor UAV (four wings with two props per wing). It carries Headwall’s lightweight Micro- Hyperspec VNIR hyperspectral sensor and a Velodyne LiDAR unit. The LiDAR provides a point cloud that reflects the field’s topographic relief, and the hyperspectral sensor delivers a picture showing spectral signatures of every object within the field of view. Mounted on the UAV, the Ekinox-N provides LiDAR and the hyperspectral camera’s orientation and position during the whole flight.

South Africa civil airspace UAV regulations likely by next March

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) hopes to have finalised regulations for the flying of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) – also designated remotely piloted air systems (RPAS) and popularly called drones – in the country’s civilian airspace by the end of March 31, 2015.

According to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, “The process of developing regulations in this regard takes consideration of the unique new safety and security risks presented by the operation of RPAS, … in South African airspace,” pointed out Peters. “Given the wide-ranging applications, it becomes prudent that the regulations are applied equally to all operators of RPAS, more so given that the risks presented by the operation of RPAS remain comparatively similar, regardless of application.”

“In all cases, a comprehensive analysis of inherent risk factors should be carried out before approval is granted,” she stated. “Additionally, it would be unconstitutional to permit the usage of RPAS technology in one sector whilst restricting other users.”

UND vies for UAS funding from FAA

With all six of its unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research test sites operational, the Federal Aviation Administration is turning its attention to creating a UAS Center of Excellence. The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks has confi rmed it will be among those vying to be part of the center, which will study challenges surrounding the integration of unmanned systems into commercial airspace.UND, at least 14 other universities and numerous industry partners will be submitting an application together as the Alliance for System Safety of UAS Through Research Excellence.

Google tests drone deliveries in Project Wing trials

Google has built and tested autonomous aerial vehicles, which it believes could be used for goods deliveries. The project is being developed at Google X, the company’s clandestine tech research arm, which is also responsible for its self-driving car. Project Wing has been running for two years, but was a secret until now. Google said that its long-term goal was to develop drones that could be used for disaster relief by delivering aid to isolated areas. The Project Wing trials have been held in Australia’s northeastern state Queensland. Australia was selected as a test site due to what Google calls “progressive” rules about the use of drones, which are more tightly controlled in other parts of the world.

Hyperspectral Drones See ‘Down to the Grape’

The US company Precision Hawk has seen its UAV technology employed in a variety of plant research, crop-protection and crop-production applications – initially in the wine industry, where it was modifi ed to resemble a hawk to scare away pest birds while collecting sensing data useful to vineyard owners. Now it is fi nding use in a variety of other sectors, including forestry, land-surveying, insurance, and the energy industry. The company’s latest model is the Lancaster Mark III, a small, fixed-wing autonomous UAV weighing just 1.3 kg that is capable of collecting extremely high-resolution remote-sensing data.

FAA announces New York UAS test site now operational

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today announced that the Griffiss International Airport unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site in Rome, N.Y., is ready to conduct research vital to integrating UAS into the national airspace system (NAS). The site is the fifth of six test sites to become operational.

House of Lords in UK launches inquiry into civil use of drones

The House of Lords is holding an enquiry into the civil use of drones, to determine whether the conditions are right “for the industry to take off”.

In a call for submissions, aimed at gathering expert written and oral evidence as a precursor to its final report in March 2015, the Lords’ EU subcommittee on the internal market, infrastructure and employment said that the increased use of drones throws up “a multitude of questions”.

“How safe are they? Do drones pose a privacy risk? What are the economic benefits to the UK and EU of drones? Is the European industry falling too far behind the rest of the world? These are some of the issues” that the committee will address, in its investigation into “Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)“ – the official terminology for drones, known in the US as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” (UAVs).

A Revolutionary UAS-Based Delivery Network is Being Tested-in Bhutan

It’s one of the world’s first dronebased delivery networks, but it’s not in the Silicon Valley. It’s in Shangri-la. A Silicon Valley startup is piloting a low-cost drone-based delivery project in the remote Himalayan nation of Bhutan that could save lives in farflung rural communities—and perhaps pioneer the system globally.

Bhutan has only 0.3 physicians per 1,000 people, according to the World Bank data, which is lower than larger regional countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. But the bigger problem for many Bhutanese is access. The Bhutanese government and the World Health Organization reached out to Matternet, a Palo Alto, USA company that develops transportation networks using unmanned aerial vehicles to reach hard-to-access places.

The project in Bhutan, however, is the first big test for the startup. Matternet uses small quadcopters that can carry loads of about four pounds across 20 km at a time, to and from pre-designated landing stations. The company is able to track these flights in real-time, and aims to eventually deploy fullyautomated landing stations that replace drone batteries, giving them extended range and flight time.

No Unmanned Flights ‘Anytime Soon,’ FAA Assures Pilots

Airlines should not expect to see unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flying regularly in U.S. airspace “anytime soon,” a senior official with the Federal Aviation Administration told pilots recently. The assurance came amid continuing reports of unauthorized UAS flights near airliners.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta “has made it clear regarding the entry of UASs into the [airspace] system. It’s going to be done in a prudent, stepby- step way, with safety foremost in our minds,” John Hickey, the agency’s deputy associate administrator for aviation safety, told the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Air Safety Forum. While the agency has allowed some commercial operations of small unmanned aircraft by exemption to its current rules, it will take “slow, deliberative steps before letting UASs into more busy airspace,” he added.

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