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Video: Youtube user Matternet
Autonomous drone delivery and logistics are set for rapid urban expansion after Matternet received a $16 million Series A injection announced on 26 June 2018. The funding was led by Boeing HorizonX Ventures with Levitate Capital, Sony Innovation Fund and Swiss Post also participating. Matternet intends to use the money to fund U.S. and global expansion.
The race for commercial autonomous delivery drones is clearly on and this funding will give Matternet a major boost in this pursuit.
Matternet has already had a number of successes with one of them being one of the companies chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration in their Unmanned Aircraft System pilot program. Under this program, Matternet is responsible for drone logistics for U.S. hospitals. They have already conducted successful tests delivering pathology work and blood to labs in Zurich, Switzerland.
Managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures, Brian Schettler said “Matternet’s technology and proven track record make the development of a safe, global autonomous air mobility system a near-term reality,” adding, “Between the company’s success in Switzerland and being selected by the FAA to test unmanned aerial networks in the U.S., we are excited to work together to reimagine how the world connects and shape the next generation of transportation solutions.”
Andreas Raptopoulos, founder and CEO of Matternet added “We are excited to partner with Boeing, the pioneers of safe commercial aviation, to make this new mode of transport mainstream, as we expand Matternet’s U.S. and global operations, we will work with Boeing to make next-generation aerial logistics networks a reality and transform our everyday lives.
Toshimoto Mitomo, Senior Investment Executive for the Sony Innovation Fund, another participant in the funding explained: “The Sony Innovation Fund is always looking for opportunities to invest at the early stage in ambitious start-ups, and robotics is one of our specific areas of focus.”
“Matternet’s vision to provide hospitals with the ability to transport time-sensitive samples and materials via drone is of particular interest, as it has both great potential as a viable business in multiple countries, while at the same time contributing to the health and well-being of countless people around the world.”
Matternet’s work in healthcare in Switzerland has already seen them successfully deliver more than 850 samples in over 1 700 flights in highly urban areas. They also provide drone integration for Mercedes-Benz Vans.
They intend to expand on their success with Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights in Switzerland to deliver on-demand medical and lab samples for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, WakeMed Health and Hospitals and the UC San Diego Health and the City of San Diego.
Matternet was founded in 2014 and this latest funding takes the company to a total of $25 million investment. I am sure we will see even more advancement and development from them in the near future.
SOURCE: sUAS News
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Image: FAA
From a total of 149 applications, 10 winners have been announced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to run the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) integration pilot program. Just over 6 months ago, U. S. President Donald Trump signed the program into existence. The purpose of the program is to speed up the incorporation of UAS into the U.S. national airspace.
The aim of this project is for the winners, in conjunction with commercial partners and the FAA, to create test zones to develop the regulatory infrastructure for UAS operations. This will fast-track government regulatory approval and in turn, give a major boost to commercial drone industry.
Winners of the Integration Pilot Program
These are the 10 winners of the program as well as their proposals and plans. They will be able to test drone applications that are currently not allowed by law such as night flying, flying beyond line of sight and flying over people. The program will analyze how these test drone flights fit in with current airspace operations, traffic management, data exchanges and others aspects of the integration of drone operations in the airspace.
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Durant, OK
The scope of the Choctaw project is to test inspections on infrastructure, public safety and agricultural applications from a ground-based application. They will test night operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). They have partnered with Green Valley Farms Living Laboratory as well as CNN and have a plan that promises fast outcomes.
City of San Diego, CA
San Diego’s project is run by their homeland security office in partnership with local industry and academic institutions. Their intention is to focus on surveillance, autonomous vehicle issues, smart city solutions, border protection food delivery. They also plan to test emerging communication protocols including AT&T's FirstNet, 4G LTE and 5G technology.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority, Herndon, VA
Virginia put their efforts into radar, identification tracking, mapping applications and detect and avoid technology. They are working with the Center for Innovative Technology, NASA and a range of other partners in the cybersecurity field.
Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka, KS
Traffic management through the use of beyond visual line of sight is the main aim of the Kansas project. The goal is to create an unmanned traffic management system for the state that will improve the efficiencies in agriculture.
Lee County Mosquito Control District, Ft. Myers, FL
Ft. Myers plan to use a large scale 1,500-lb. UAS to assist with mosquitos control. This will be done using satellite technology, infrared imaging, as well as ground-based, detect and avoid radar systems.
Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, Memphis, TN
The concept with the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority test is to test package delivery as well as surveillance of perimeter security. They are working with Agricenter International, FedEx and others in conjunction with manned airplanes.
North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, NC
Working with the Department of Transportation, North Carolina aims to test applications for interstate deliveries of medical supplies. The existing plans involves work with Zipline and Matterne.
North Dakota Department of Transportation, Bismarck, ND
North Dakota intends to test and prove a range of application including processes and procedure, training, aircraft system technologies as well as external systems. The intention is to work on rural and urban applications that will cover a number of UAS applications.
The City of Reno, NV
Medical supply delivery is the main focus of the Reno project. The intention is to create a system that can be scaled for a range of lifesaving medical application. They are working closely with a number of private partners in the medical field.
University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
Remote pipeline inspection in the main thrust of this project. The concept is particularly geared towards inspections in extreme weather conditions. They also have plans for tests in UAS detection and public safety.
Exciting times ahead
These projects cover a wide range of drone application as well as the challenges that go with them. They propose to offer workable solutions in order to gain acceptance and government approval. Every success will boost the potential of drone application across the nation and pave the way for even more innovation and development.
SOURCE: FAA
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Image: Google Project Wing
Image: AirMap
As commercial drone applications continue to grow and demand for airspace increases, there is ongoing concern over air traffic management for civilian low-altitude airspace. This is hindering the massive potential for commercial drone use.
NASA, together with the FAA, has been involved in research for some time now to find a workable solution for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM). Thanks to a collaboration with Project Wing and AirMap, a groundbreaking development has just been made. They recently showcased their successful solution to the airspace deconfliction safety challenge. Deconfliction is necessary to arrange flightpaths in such a way that collisions are avoided and the more drones in the air, the more important this becomes.
This historic breakthrough was part of the NASA-UTM research project that has been running for a few years already. The collaboration between the parties employs a range of technologies to achieve their success. These include notice and authorization, contingency management, real-time telemetry, rule-based situational awareness, geofencing, airspace conflict resolution, remote airspace management and flight planning. As you can see, it is clearly a massive undertaking and relies on multiple disciplines and a wide range of technology. It is a monumental development that will create a wealth of new opportunities for the commercial drone industry. There is now a practical and workable UTM system in place that will ensure the safety of drone operations.
ANRA technologies together with Project Wing and AirMap successfully tested the UTM TCL3 (technology capability level 3) which included contingency planning, changing weather conditions, failover recovery and remote identification. Multiple drone operations were able to communicate USS-to-USS.
The trial consisted of Project Wing operating a DJI Inspire, Intel Aeros and their own delivery drone while AirMap also used an Intel Aero as well as a senseFly eBee. UTM services were provided by AirMap. Together with Project Wing, the AirMap service made use of distributed, open source peer-to-peer platform. A range of tests were done which included close proximity deliveries and surveys. The exercise was a complete success with the real-time telemetry providing inter-USS communication through the Project Wing and AirMap UTM platform. Safety and compliance were maintained throughout the trial.
The main challenge of TCL3 is getting multiple USS platforms to communicate with each other. Once fully operational, the system will see numerous drones all operating in close proximity while performing a range of commercial and humanitarian functions. These drones will be communicating with various USS platforms. In order to ensure safety and avoid collisions in a crowed low-altitude airspace, perfect real-time communication between USS platforms is essential. The TCL3 trial proves that this is possible and can function effectively with multiple drones operating safely and effectively within the same airspace.
The success of this technology was possible due to the collaboration between public and private sector role players and demonstrates that these partnerships are an important factor in addressing safety and drone control issues. Such developments create huge opportunities for a multitude of important commercial drone applications and will create further growth in the industry. By creating more airspace for commercial drone operations and ensuring it is safely managed, AirMap and their collaborators have achieved a great success for the commercial drone industry.
SOURCE: AirMap
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Image: DJI
DJI, always at the forefront of drone development have revealed yet another revolutionary concept. They have created an open platform where developers can custom make solutions for a range of commercial drone applications.
This development applies to Payload SDK and works via an SDK and SkyPort adapter. Operators will be able to integrate payloads, sensors and even third-party cameras to the DJI Matrice 200 Series drones. The announcement was made soon after the launch of the DJI Zenmuse XT2 (more on that later). Again, this opens up a host of new possibilities and opportunities for commercial drone operators.
Head of Enterprise Partnerships at DJI, Jan Gasparic had the following to say, “Our new Payload SDK makes it possible for any manufacturer to create a payload specific to their customers’ needs that will work seamlessly with DJI’s aircraft. We believe these two advances will not only strengthen DJI’s leadership in the commercial drone industry, but will also provide a powerful, flexible and standardized platform which customers from different industries can build upon.”
Essentially DJI has simplified the process with the gimbal port adaptor, the DJI Skyport. With the addition of a circuit board and access to the API’s, developers can control third-party add-ons the same way one can with DJI products. It uses the DJI power supply and will allow commercial operators to see all data collected in real time. The process is faster, easier and much more effective. This is exciting news for a number of industries and opens the door for rapid advancement in commercial drone applications.
DJI Zenmuse XT2
As mentioned, the exciting and powerful new XT2 was revealed at the same time as the above announcement. It combines a 4K camera with machine intelligence technology, DJI’s excellent stabilization and the FLIR Tau 2 thermal sensor. The result is groundbreaking technology that gives vital information from aerial data in real time. The opportunities are astounding.
Image: Medium
The Machine Intelligence makes use of advanced computer vision algorithms and a range of processors to quickly distinguish what is important in real-time. This eliminates lengthy waiting periods of processing the data after the footage is taken. Results and insights are available immediately. This will save time, money and in many cases, lives.
There are also temperature parameters that can be pre-determined to instantly alert you if the relevant objects fall out of the temperature range that has been set. Heat Track allows the XT2 to instantly focus in on the hottest object in range when required. The FLIR MSX® overlays the image on a thermal data stream for instant data interpretation.
Even small temperature differences, invisible to humans, can be revealed by the FLIR thermal sensors. Applications for this technology include recovery of people in disaster situations, firefighting and crime fighting. It can also detect flaws or damage to buildings or equipment and roof inspections.
DJI continue to drive the commercial drone industry with practical and innovative technology.
SOURCE: DJI
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Photo: Skyward
That’s right, as soon as next month, the LAANC nationwide expansion will start. This is a massive boost for the commercial drone industry and will mean improved safety and much faster access - a move that will lead to incredible growth opportunities.
The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) was rolled out at a few air traffic facilities in November of 2017. This was a prototype project to facilitate and speed up the approval required by the FAA for drones or unmanned aircraft (UAS) to operate in any air traffic controlled airspace.
In six months LAANC has proved to be a major success. Based on the very positive prototype results, LAANC will be rolled out to almost 300 air traffic control facilities throughout the United States. These facilities account for roughly 500 airports and cover around 78,000 miles of airspace.
The rollout will begin in April 2018 and will be a great benefit to the commercial drone industry. The current manual waiver application process takes three months or more, whereas the new digital LAANC system is almost immediate when using an approved LAANC provider known as an Approved UAS Service Suppliers (USS). It requires little more than a tap on the USS app and approval is given within seconds.
The planned rollout is as follows:
April 30: South Central USAMay 24: Western North USAJune 21: Western South USAJuly 19: Eastern South USAAugust 16: Eastern North USASeptember 13: Central North USA
This is really great news for drone pilots in the first locations but the latest some of the other states will have to wait is until early fall.
There are a few USS companies offering LAANC digital authorization but AirMap is one of the leading providers. The AirMap app or website (we prefer the classic site) allows you to plan your flight and request digital authorization.
This exciting development was announced on 06 March 2018 by Dan Elwell, Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The announcement was made at the 3rd Annual UAS Symposium on its opening day in Baltimore, Maryland.
There is no doubt this fantastic development will have a meaningful impact on the commercial drone sector and lead to further growth and development as LAANC is rolled out.
SOURCES: AirMap , FAA
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Image: Boeing
While Amazon has been talking about drone deliveries since 2013, it was actually 7-Eleven that beat them when they successfully did the first commercial drone delivery on 11 July 2016. They delivered Slurpees, donuts, candy and a chicken sandwich to a private residence in Reno Nevada. Amazon quickly upped their game and, along with courier giants DHL and UPS, have since made a number of drone deliveries.
Not content with carrying small payloads like fast food and sweets, Boeing set out to create a monster of a drone capable of carrying much heavier loads. Their massive powerful electric, unmanned cargo air vehicle can airlift up to 500 pounds.
Without a specific goal in mind, Boing set out to get involved in the drone revolution but wanted something with a lot of power. The result is a 747 pound 8 propeller drone or unmanned aerial vehicles that can carry the giant loads as far as 20 miles. It was built by a group of 50 engineers, all top propeller heads. The team, effectively a division of Boeing, are known as HorizonX. This division of Boing seeks out and develops unique and innovative startups in the aerospace and related fields.
The project took three months to complete and was a collaboration between Boeing and helicopter experts Bell.
Boing has no immediate plans for the powerful UAV but they understand the necessity to have “on demand mobility”. They have certainly achieved that with this still to be named drone. The drone can be used to replace costly manned helicopter trips, particularly when there is danger involved.
Obstacle avoidance technology and navigation were provided by Near Earth Autonomy, a company that HorizonX has an interest in.
Initial testing was carried out in an indoor environment at Boeing’s Missouri based autonomous systems lab. The prototype flew a 150-pound load for 15 minutes. The HorizonX team are confident they will reach a capacity of 250 to 500 pounds before long and be able to fly at a few hundred feet at around 60 to 70 mph.
In terms of specs, the drone weighs in at 747 pounds, by sheer coincidence, and measures 15 feet in length, four feet tall and 18 feet wide.
The power and strength of this new development will allow it to perform a number of heavy-duty tasks such as carrying supplies to offshore oil rigs or take entire pallets from a port to a distribution center. There are a number of applications that such a craft would be suitable for and the two advantages it has is that it is significantly less expensive than a manned helicopter trip and there is no risk to human life. It fills the gap between large truck deliveries and smaller hand to hand deliveries.
While delivery drones are nothing new, this development is a game changer in terms of the power and carrying capacity of this new UAV. It opens the door to a host of new delivery opportunities and will certainly inspire the market and drive other manufacturers to develop more powerful drones.
SOURCE: Wired
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The results are out and once again, the standard of aerial photographs and videos were absolutely breathtaking.
Only in its third year now and the competition attracted some of the best aerial images and footage ever seen.
SkyPixel has grown their online following to more than six million amateur and professional aerial photographers and videographers. With some amazing prizes valued at more than $90 000, there is more than just internet fame to be won.
2017 SKYPIXEL PHOTO CONTEST
The 2017 competition, which ran from Late October until the end of December, attracted over 44 000 entries from 141 counties. Entries for the photographic side of the competition are judged by a panel of award-winning photographers.
Grand Prize Winner - “Above the Polar Bear”
Winners: Story Professional
Winners: Story Enthusiast
Winners: Landscape Professional
Winners: Landscape Enthusiast
Winners: Portrait Professional
Winners: Portrait Enthusiast
Categories are divided into Landscape, Portrait and a new category called Story. This new category is quite interesting and requires photographers to submit five shots that portray a story.
French Photographer, Florian Ledoux, was the Grand Prize Winner for his perfectly captured shot of a polar bear at full stretch diving over the ice in Nunavut, Canada.
In the Landscape Enthusiast category, Trung took first place for his shot titled “Lobsters Farm” while Landscape Professional went to Zay Yar Lin with “Sun's Up, Net's Out”.
The Enthusiast, Portrait first prize went to cocoanext for “Dancer” and Petra Leary won the Portrait Professional section with the colorful “Balmoral Ball”.
In the new Story category, the Enthusiast section was won by Water Qinghua for “Inle River Fishing Show” and Story Professional first prize was awarded to In the higher sky for “‘The Land of the Earth' – Man Made Nature Revelation”.
Apart from the winners in each category there were also Nominated Entries and Popular Prize images.
Top 9 Nominated
Top 10 Popular Prize
2017 SKYPIXEL VIDEO CONTEST
The video competition was just as exciting. Here entrants have to submit a 30 second to 5 minute video in the categories Nature, City and Sport. The video were judged by a panel of aerial photographers and filmmakers.
Grand Prize went to xiaoxiao for his video “Epic of Tanna” which showed breathtaking footage of the volcano and landscape in the South Pacific Ocean island of Tanna.
Vadim Sherbakov took the first prize in the Nature category for his video “Icarus” which takes views on a journey from the sheers cliffs of Isle of Skye to the amazing Dolomites in Italy.
“The City of Cape Town” won first prize in the City category for Luke Bell’s captivating aerial footage of the mountains and beaches in the city.
The Sports category saw Marin Kafedjiiski take first prize with the death-defying feats of a parkour artist jumping from bridges to rooftops in his video “MMP3 – 2D RUN”
As was expected, the standard was remarkably high in both contests and we are already looking forward to the 2018 competition. I have no doubt it will be even bigger and better.
SOURCES: SkyPixel, SkyPixel
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We know you've always wondered what the world looked like from up in the air. That’s why you bought yourself a drone, calibrated its vision positioning sensor, carefully avoided Jello and prop shadows, and flew it within VLOS. Now it's time to show how you turn your curiosity into breathtaking photos and videos in February Flight Fest (February 1-28)! Upload your aerial 360 photos and videos on veer.tv with #UpInTheAir to win!
Everyday, we’ll feature one #UpInTheAir photo as the banner of VeeR's homepage.
Winners will be chosen based on their content quality and total likes on VeeR. Additional surprise gifts for those who share this article!
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With so much hype around self-driving or autonomous cars, many people are not aware of the massive developments that have been made in unmanned flight. The technology is already in place and the potential applications are enormous.
In a first for the helicopter industry, Bell displayed a pilot optional helicopter at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. This is just one of many aircraft manufacturers that are working towards pilotless aircraft.
Unmanned flight technology is nothing new and demonstrations of unmanned helicopters were done by Lockheed Martin (they acquired Sikorsky in 2015) as far back as 2010.
Development is currently coming from two angles. On the one hand, you have the traditional drone makers scaling up. They are developing bigger and better drones that will be capable of carrying heavy payloads or people. On the other hand, the existing helicopter and aircraft manufacturers, most of them anyway, are look at converting existing and new aircraft to be remote controlled and pilotless.
As always, the major snag slowing development and implementation down is regulatory red tape. Public perception is also a major hurdle. The technology itself is already in place.
The developments in on-demand air transport have prompted a number of new partnerships. Uber, for example, have forged new ventures with Boeing, Bell, Airbus, Pipistrel and Embraer.
The idea is to build a network of aircraft to compliment their ridesharing business. Basically, it would be Uber in the air with a distributed network of autonomous aircraft and helicopters capable of short air trips and landing in small fields or rooftops.
There is also development in the use of this technology for humanitarian work, firefighting and agriculture. A partnership has been formed between Drone America and Thrush Aircraft.
Thrush makes turboprop air tankers for firefighting and agricultural applications. They issued a joint press release where president and CEO of Drone America, Mike Richards said, “We founded our company on the belief that highly-reliable, well-integrated autonomous systems can significantly improve public and environmental safety. Our collaboration with Thrush represents a major step forward in achieving that goal, and we’re excited to be joining forces in the fight against one of our country’s most challenging foes: wildland fires.”
The company also has plans for other heavy payload applications for use in the maritime industry as well as disaster relief. These developments will make the application of such efforts a lot less expensive but also eliminate the risk to humans in the more dangerous applications.
Mitch Snyder, CEO of Bell Helicopter also made a statement regarding the new developments at the Consumer Electronics Show. Snyder said, “Bell Helicopter is innovating at the limits of vertical flight and challenging the traditional notion of aviation to solve real-world problems,” adding, “The future of urban air taxi is closer than many people realize. We believe in the positive impact our design will have on addressing transportation concerns in cities worldwide.”
These are certainly exciting times for autonomous flight and the applications are life-changing. Regulations need to be adapted and implemented with minimal delay to drive these exciting new developments.
SOURCE: AOPA
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Video: YouTube user Arab News
Drones have been used for a number of humanitarian and aid relief applications with great success but the recent dramatic story of a drone coming to the rescue of two teenage boys distressed out at sea is further proof of the amazing applications of drone technology.
The incident took place Australia and the lifeguards who were, at the time, busy learning how to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in their duties, were alerted by someone on the beach of the two teens experiencing major problems while caught in massive waves in the Far North Coast area in New South Wales.
The dramatic rescue was perfectly captured by the drone camera and the video makes for riveting viewing. This is believed to be the first sea rescue by a drone and given the incredible success of the spontaneous rescue, I am sure this will become a popular method to improve the effectiveness of lifeguard duties.
The two young men got caught about 2,300 feet out at sea and were struggling to get back in. Fortunately, their distress was spotted and the drone, nicknamed "Little Ripper" was at hand. It took a mere 70 seconds to reach the struggling swimmers and it dropped a self-inflating rescue pod onto which the lads could safely cling onto after unsuccessfully battling the pounding waves for some time.
Jai Sheridan was the lifeguard supervisor on the day and told reporters "I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes. On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public."
Once the two young men, aged 15 and 17, had the relief and security of the rescue pod, they managed to make it safely ashore. They were tired and shaken by the experience but otherwise in good health. This was all thanks to the fast deployment of the brand new drone.
In situations like this, every second is critical. An extra few minutes and the story might not have had such a happy ending.
The Australian government has made a significant investment in drone technology for these types of situations. The drone had only been out of the box for a few hours and already proved how efficient and effective the concept is.
John Barilaro, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW said "This is a world-first rescue," adding "Never before has a drone fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this."
This is yet another groundbreaking development in humanitarian and lifesaving applications for which drones can play a significant role. The fact that the investment and project were validated while the operators had just started learning how to apply the technology just illustrates the incredible potential for future sea rescues and similar missions.
SOURCE: NPR
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