Commercial Drone Integration by 2015 Unlikely

The FAA will likely miss their 2015 deadline to let companies fly drones, reports The Verge.

Last week the Department of Transportation found that the FAA is “significantly behind schedule” and that there are still “significant technological, regulatory, and management barriers” preventing the FAA from integrating drones into the national airspace.

Those barriers include: failing to create standards that would allow drones to detect and avoid other aircraft, as well as ensure reliable connections with their controllers; not yet determining regulatory requirements — such as certifications and air traffic procedures — for managing drones; and not ensuring that all issues with drones are reported and tracked.

The FAA says that it’s on track to issue a rule proposal for allowing flights of small drones this year.

Last summer, the FAA issued restricted category type certificates for commercial use in Alaska of the Insitu ScanEagle, a fixed-wing UAV, developed on the Columbia River Gorge and the Puma. On June 10th, 2014, the FAA approved the first commercial UAV use over land of the AeroVironment Puma.

Congress has instructed the FAA to integrate commercial drones into public airspace, where they will fly in coordination with conventional aircraft.

The FAA selected the University of Alaska’s proposal which contained Hawaii and Oregon UAV test range locations. In total, 58 companies and 13 test ranges are part of the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range.

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Rising Tide Innovations, a UAS software developer, says Oregon’s test ranges will spawn jobs at tech centers and manufacturing operations.

Oregon Unmanned Systems Business Enterprise, a nonprofit now called SOAR, is designed to establish Oregon as a leader in the civilian uses of unmanned aircraft. The organization is launching with a two-year $882,000 state grant from the Oregon Business Development Department and the Oregon Innovation Council.

Initial grant recipients are:

  • Paradigm ISR of Bend for development of a system to collect and analyze pest management data for agricultural crops, $60,000.
  • NW UAV of McMinnville, in partnership with the VT Group of Tigard, for completion of a new, certifiable propulsion system for flight vehicles, $75,000.
  • Fordyce Design and Manufacturing of Gaston for a standardized servo system for flight vehicles, $14,000.
  • Insitu’s Advanced Programs Engineering Group of Hood River for development of flight navigation and communication systems to integrate manned and unmanned aircraft for missions such as firefighting and search and rescue, $75,000; and
  • Cloud Cap Technologies to integrate Sagetech’s next generation transponder for development of a new-generation transponder and autopilot for improved flight safety at test ranges and eventually in the general airspace, $103,000.

SoarOregon considered about 40 proposals from area companies in the first round of funding this April.

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Google’s Project Loon uses radio-equipped balloons to deliver internet access from 12 miles above the earth. It currently uses WiFi bands at 2.4 and 5.8 GHz which are available for anyone to use.

Google also plans to test unlicensed “TV white space” radios, using 512-602 MHz and 620-698 MHz. At 4 W per 6 MHz channel, they are expected to cover a radius of 5 miles from its Mountain View, California campus.

The Solara 50 solar-power UAV from Titan Aerospace carries 70 lb payloads to 20 kilometers (12 miles), and acts as an cellular base station providing an 18-mile coverage radius. DARPA’s Mobile Hotspots program aims to build mobile 70/80 GHz backhaul for UAVs, connecting at 1 Gb/s.

We Are The Pioneers from SkywardIO on Vimeo.

Jonathan Evans, CEO of Portland-based SkyWard.io, explains how the emerging aerial robotics network will operate.

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Aireon will use the Iridium NEXT for their ADS-B service, starting in 2015. Globalstar also plans a space-based air traffic management system that will compliment ground-based ADS-B. It’s a true over-the-horizon air traffic surveillance system capable of delivering Air Traffic Control (ATC) automation.

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OpenVX provides mobile developers with an industry standard API to deliver embedded computer vision and computational imaging chipsets that can keep UAVs on track.

Orbit Logic does Mission Planning for satellites and UAVs.

FAA-approved test sites, type certification for commercial use over certain restricted areas, ADS-B automation, flight-plan and mission planning software, embedded processing chips, FLIR, hyperspectral and Lidar cameras, and broadband wireless connections are coming together.

Applications in forest and terrain surveys, agricultural monitoring, public safety, maritime and transportation industries can save money and lives.

Tech Town Portland from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.

Domestic commercial drones could be a $13 billion industry by 2017, creating 70,240 jobs, according to the AUVSI. They estimate Oregon’s share at $81 million with about 400 high-skilled, high-paying jobs.

Here’s my Proposal for a Columbia River Drone Network.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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