Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Uber demonstrated the transport of a McDonald’s meal via its Uber Elevate A4200 drone with custom-designed delivery box. The drone was set to fly only half a mile away, but the trip was canceled due to a 26-knot breeze. The demo is still noteworthy as a practical application of the technology. Uber isn’t the only company pinning some of its high-tech hopes on drone delivery. Google already has the greenlight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make similar unmanned commercial deliveries in Virginia, and Amazon also debuted its drone delivery service. Continue reading Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

Wing Aviation, a unit of Alphabet, received the Federal Aviation Administration’s first authorization to deliver consumer goods via drone. Being first is a coup for Google’s parent company and a harbinger that many other companies — Amazon among them — will soon launch drone delivery services. Not long ago, officials predicted that the FAA wouldn’t implement the first rules for unmanned aircraft delivery until 2020 or 2021. The current FAA permit for Wing Aviation only includes a rural area around Blacksburg, Virginia. Continue reading FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation selected 10 local, state and tribal governments to test drone commerce in partnership with Intel, Uber, FedEx and Qualcomm, among others. The Integration Pilot Program, promoted by the Trump administration to speed up approvals of longer-range unmanned flights, has enthused drone companies, including startups such as Flirtey and AirMap. Notably missing from the list, however, is Amazon, which has a project in development to deliver packages to people’s homes. Continue reading Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

FAA: Number of Commercial Drones Will Quadruple by 2022

In positive news for the drone industry, recently updated Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) numbers project significant growth in commercial drone use by 2022, at which point the current numbers are expected to quadruple. By that year, 450,000 unmanned drones will operate within domestic airspace. Today, there are roughly 110,000 in use. These increases are projected even if federal restrictions are loosened more slowly than expected or desired by advocates and others.

Continue reading FAA: Number of Commercial Drones Will Quadruple by 2022

Investigation Opens into Possible Drone-Linked Copter Crash

The first-ever drone-related crash of an aircraft in the U.S. may have taken place last week in South Carolina. According to two helicopter pilots, a student and an instructor, a drone appeared directly in front of them, causing the instructor to take over the controllers. The helicopter’s tail hit a tree or brush, causing the crash landing, which they reported to the South Carolina Police Department. The National Transportation Safety Board is opening an investigation, according to spokesperson Chris O’Neil. Continue reading Investigation Opens into Possible Drone-Linked Copter Crash

FAA Panel Fails to Reach Consensus on Drone Regulations

A federal advisory panel of 70+ industry, labor and law enforcement experts failed to come to agreement on a proposal on how to track and identify drones. More specifically, the panel could not find agreement regarding categories of drones that should require remote monitoring. The result is that it will now be more difficult for the Federal Aviation Administration to execute rules that would please all concerned groups, which include law enforcement agencies, hobbyists and drone advocates. Continue reading FAA Panel Fails to Reach Consensus on Drone Regulations

UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

The United Nations’ 191-member state International Civil Aviation Organization held its first-ever symposium to solicit industry ideas on global operating standards for drones. Held at the ICAO’s Montreal headquarters, the two-day event was not aimed at establishing specific rules but rather to spur discussion and ideas among those already involved in the drone industry. Amazon, NASA, Boeing and General Electric participated along with leading industry trade associations and Chinese and Brazilian researchers. Continue reading UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

Amazon’s drone delivery program faces the challenge of getting drones near enough to large population centers, but the company just filed a patent application for a solution. What Amazon calls “multi-level fulfillment centers for unmanned aerial vehicles” would place drones in the midst of cities in vertical structures, thereby letting drones fly in and out of the building while avoiding pedestrians. Although this idea would solve one problem, it raises others pursuant to drones flying in the sky above a city. Continue reading Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

At the conclusion of the inaugural meeting of the White House’s American Technology Council, President Donald Trump called for a “sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology,” admitting that the government needed to catch up with the private sector and that federal agencies had to deliver “dramatically better services to citizens.” The Council’s mandate is to convert paper forms into easy-to-use websites, and help the government buy better technology and use new tools like artificial intelligence. Continue reading White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

Bill Calls For More Drone Control, FAA Registry Struck Down

The Trump administration is upending the nascent drone industry, proposing legislation that would allow the federal government to track, commandeer, disable or destroy unmanned aerial vehicles. The legislation would include a new exception to surveillance, computer privacy and aircraft protection laws. The administration held a classified briefing for congressional staff members. At the same time, the D.C.-based U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against the FAA requirement for non-commercial drone owners to register their aircraft. Continue reading Bill Calls For More Drone Control, FAA Registry Struck Down

Sales of DJI Drones Are Going Sky-High as Market Takes Off

Drones are a booming industry sector. Gartner Research says global drones sales in 2016 bumped up 60 percent to 2.2 million, with revenue growing 36 percent to $4.5 billion. The Consumer Technology Association reports that hobbyists in the U.S. purchased 2.4 million drones in 2016, compared to 1.1 million in 2015. But it isn’t easy to nail down sales numbers for drones, given that the definition for what constitutes a drone varies. Gartner calls an aircraft that can connect to the Internet a drone, a “conservative” definition.  Continue reading Sales of DJI Drones Are Going Sky-High as Market Takes Off

HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

At the HPA Tech Retreat, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger delivered his annual Washington Update, opening with a clip of President Trump suggesting that his government is operating like a well-oiled machine. “I have nothing to say,” said Burger in response, reporting that Marco Rubio told him, “every day something is new in the Senate.” Burger’s update focused on intellectual property issues, including litigation, as well as actions of the FCC regarding net neutrality and set-top boxes, and the FAA regarding drones. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

Super Bowl Halftime Show Offers Glimpse into Future of UAVs

During Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, about 160 million viewers saw something never seen there before: an army of 300 synchronized drones that morphed from stars to a waving flag above the Houston skyline. That effect was courtesy of the Intel Shooting Star drone system, which also has more serious applications, in search-and-rescue and agriculture among other possibilities. The Shooting Star squad has also performed at Disney World and, last year, set a world record by simultaneously launching 500 UAVs into the sky above Sydney. Continue reading Super Bowl Halftime Show Offers Glimpse into Future of UAVs

Samsung Creates 8-Point QC Process to Curb Tech Problems

A Samsung investigation into the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone batteries found the cause for the problem that led to the total recall of 2.5 million phones, say sources: irregularly sized batteries and others with manufacturing problems. Since some Galaxy Note 7 phones caught on fire, Samsung, which revealed the results of its investigation on Monday, saw damage to its brand and a loss of at least $5 billion. Led by Samsung, the investigation was conducted by three quality control and supply chain analysis firms. To avoid future mishaps, the company has developed a new QC process. Continue reading Samsung Creates 8-Point QC Process to Curb Tech Problems

Tech Startups Pitch Innovative New Drone Concepts at CES

The VR, AR and Robotics Pitch Competition at CES in Las Vegas included three drone-related entertainment tech startups. The Fotokite, from Zurich-based Perspective Robotics, is a tethered drone camera system. The $249 consumer version unfolds from an easy-carry tube and flies like a kite, but unlike a kite it works to maintain its position and camera angle relative to the handheld ‘kite’ tether. Dotterel “takes the drone out of drones” with technology that was developed to make it possible to record audio from a drone without the loud background buzz. And Boxfish Research showed a simple-to-operate submarine ROV with two universal camera mounts for capturing 360-degree video. Continue reading Tech Startups Pitch Innovative New Drone Concepts at CES

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