Top drone industry news, hand-picked for you by the Skytango team with comments from Steve Flynn, Skytango’s CEO. Edition: June 12, 2017. 

It’s nice to be back home…if only my much loved Mac hadn’t suddenly decided to die on me! At least I can confirm that Murphy’s Law is not true: “The hard drive on your computer will only crash when it contains vital information that has not been backed up.” Oh, wait, where did I write my last roundup news?

Hot topics this week: BVLOS, Canada, US Air Traffic Control Privatization, DroneFund

This news roundup is supported by Drone Industry Insights.

Drone Laws & Regulations

The top news this week on the regulatory side comes from the U.S., once again. President Donald Trump announced plans to privatise the U.S. air traffic control system. In his live pitch on June 5, Trump criticized the way air traffic control system is currently managed. The responsibility for providing air traffic services would be transferred from the FAA to a private, nonprofit organisation.

The first reactions in the drone industry have been mixed, with most of the first comments sceptical.

April Glaser on Recode writes for example that thanks to the change:

drone delivery might happen sooner in the U.S. than anticipated“,

but Miriam McNabb on Dronelife writes that:

the impact on efforts by the FAA and the drone industry to fully integrate drones into the system within the next few years is difficult to judge“,

and drone analyst and industry expert Colin Snow, interviewed by Miriam McNabb, says:

I don’t think privatizing air traffic control (ATC) would necessarily expedite drone delivery in the U.S.”.

The best read of the week, on the regulation side, comes from Christopher Korody.

His deep article reviews all the recent events which are transforming the drone regulatory landscape in the U.S., including Trump’s speech on the privatization of the traffic control system, the proposed Drone Federalism Bill, the Taylor vs FAA case (by the way, I listened to Drone Law Today,  Steve Hogan’s podcast with an interesting interview with John Taylor) and more.

The Calgary Herald reports on a case related to the first person charged in Calgary, Canada for operating a drone in the flight path of the Calgary International Airport. The case, which will proceed with a new trial in September 2017, may have implications for future enforcement of drone regulations in Canada.

In the meantime, NODE (Network of Drone Enthusiasts) – defined as a grassroots movement, but actually sponsored by DJI – has launched a campaign in Canada to lobby the country’s federal government for more measured drone laws, after a recent tightening of the rules, in particular for recreational flying.

Drone Industry News

BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) is the hot topic this week.

In France, Delair-Tech has set a new distance record, flying in BVLOS a civilian drone 30 miles (50 kilometres) to inspect by remote camera RTE’s power lines as well as recording data. The French Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) granted the companies the right to use a specific flight corridor.

NASA completed the second level of testing for its cloud-based unmanned aircraft systems traffic management platform. The 3-week long test, which was conducted at six FAA-designated UAS test sites, focused on beyond line of sight flight capabilities, and involved the FAA, state and local governments, university partners and private companies.

Project Wing – part of Google’s company X – was one of the private companies taking part in the NASA test. James Ryan Burgess, co-lead of Project Wing, describes what the company did at at the FAA test site run by the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP).

They demonstrated how their Project Wing’s UTM (UAS Air Traffic Management) platform is able to manage the complex flight paths of multiple UAS at the same time.

In Canada, Drone Delivery Canada Corp., announced they have successfully conducted BVLOS test flights under the guidance of Transport Canada in Foremost Alberta. Drone Delivery Canada Corp. is expected to be the first company in Canada to become a drone logistics compliant operator approved by Transport Canada, and to begin commercial operations in Q1, 2018.

A new $9 Million drone investment fund has been launched in Japan by Kamakura Investment Management and Japanese renowned investor Kotaro Chiba. The fund, called DroneFund, is already set to fund 11 drone startups in the Japanese ecosystem. In addition to providing investments, DroneFund will also launch a series of initiatives to provide R&D, networking, knowledge sharing and IP protection support to the drone startup industry in Japan.

Michael Jiang (Jiang Hao), ex Motorola and Ericsson CEO, is the new Yuneec CEO, reports Drone360. 

I finished checking the last articles of the great Harvard Business Review Drones Go To Work series.

I read the first article, about drone security challenges and possible solutions, by Dyan Gibbens, CEO of Trumbull Unmanned. The second is a video interview with Helen Greiner, founder of CyPhy Works. One of their first products was a tethered drone. Helen explains the benefits of using a tethered solution.

The Drone Racing League (DRL), the global leader in professional drone racing, announced a partnership with Betfair to offer race betting at the final race of the Allianz World Championship circuit on June 13, 2017.

Scott Simmie on The Digital Circuit explains why DJI Spark is targeting the millennials audience.

Last, a research carried out by scientists at the University of Aberdeen shows the potential of drones for the inspection, monitoring and maintenance of oil and gas pipelines.

The study, published in the Arabian Journal of Geosciences, examines a number of options for the use of drone technologies, from the deployment of small multirotor platforms in local inspection missions, to the use of fixed wing devices better suited to covering large areas, especially linear routes.

Drone Technologies, New Products & Ideas

Drone Industry Insights released a really interesting report of the different energy sources available for drones and their potential in the industry.

TechCrunch offers a peek behind the curtains of the Robust Adaptive Systems Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the world’s foremost robotics schools, and shows how the team of researchers is working on drone performances to learn and improve the flight control of drones and drone swarms and the relationship between humans and robots.

Three teams of NASA researchers will research new technologies with a high potential to transform the UAV industry, in particular working on safe inclusion and certification of autonomous systems, a new verification system to check the drone in remote before its flight, and quantum computing to build a secure network to manage hundreds of thousands of flights each day.

SkyX has released a new automatic recharge platform for their SkyOne UAVs. The possibility to recharge the SkyOnes, which already have a range of 100 km (62 miles), would allow extended operations.

Amazon filed a patent for a shipping label with a built in parachute to help packages make a soft landing when dropped out of the air by drone or other airborne craft, reports Geekwire. The package could also be loaded with sensors to make sure the package hits its landing zone and a shock absorber in case the cargo is coming in a little too hot.

Drobotron has released its first aircraft, the DL1200, taking billboard advertising to the skies. The DL1200 is a drone platform with a high resolution LED screen which can be viewed from any angle.

Global planning and design firm CallisonRTKL has developed a concept project aiming at converting closed malls into ecofriendly drone delivering warehouses, writes WeTalkUAV.

Industry Stat Of The Week

22.3% vs 3.4% this week!

22.3%: that’s the percentage of close encounters (drones flying within 150 meters or less of manned aircrafts) on the total number of drone sightings reported to Transport Canada between November 2005 and December 2016, according to a University of Calgary study just published in the Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems.

355 drone incidents were reported in Canadian airspace in this space – the big majority from 2013 onwards – and 79 of them (22.3 per cent) were deemed to be “close encounters”.

3.4%: that’s the percentage of reported near misses and close calls on the total number of drone sightings reported to FAA, according to recent AMA’s analysis.

Drone Journalism

Drones have been used in a great investigative journalism project on the dying Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, alongside technologies like Virtual Reality, 360 photos, data visualization and digital storytelling. You can check the results in the official page of the project. Inspiring reading.

iJnet has republished 6 great drone journalism tips from Johnny Miller, Code for Africa News Fellow specialized in drone photography and reporting.

Aerial Filming & Photography

I read an interesting piece on Aerobo, an aerial filming startup co-founded in 2015 by film school graduate Brian Streem, which managed to pull in more than $1 million in revenue in 2016, its first full year, with customers of the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Fox, and ESPN.

They charge between $2,000 and $15,000 per day, depending on the number of staff needed and the complexity of the project, have eight employees in New York and Los Angeles, and expect to triple their revenue in 2017.

Another good article this week comes from UAV Coach, which published an interview with aerial filmmaker Florian Fischer, 3-times winner of the Dronie category in the New York Drone Film Festival.


Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has signed into law a bill that mandates the creation of a study on how unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can help public safety agencies and decrease their reliance on manned aircraft. The study will investigate how drones can augment public safety missions, focusing in particular on applications for firefighting, search and rescue, accident reconstruction, and emergency management.

Surrey Search & Rescue, one of the busiest SAR organizations in the UK, has now incorporated drones into their life-saving arsenal, in partnership with Consortiq.

Iain Kerr, CEO of Ocean Alliance, has shown how his organization is using drone technology to improve the research, in a speech at the United Nations’ Ocean Conference in New York a few days agoOcean Alliance scientists teamed up with roboticists to design a drone that can collect the mucus-like substance expelled by whales through their blowholes.

Whale snot contains important biological data that’s traditionally hard to get. The drones used in the research – called SnotBot – hover above whales as they surface for air and then lower petri dishes that capture the whale’s snot spray, writes April Glaser on Recode.

Drone Events

Anybody planning to visit the Commercial UAV Expo Europe in Brussels? I’ll be part of a panel with Morwen Williams (BBC News), Daniel Rubio (AirMap), and Marc Kegelaers (UniFly) on what you should do as a business to make sure you run legal and safe drone operations and acquire data which can be used from a legal point of view. Meet me there on June 22, 2017!

Upcoming B2B events in the next 30 days. The list is getting longer and longer

Drone Film & Photo Festivals

This is the last week to submit your aerial film to DroneUp International Film Festival 2017, an international drone film festival which takes place in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in August. You can do it for FREE using our coupon code which will give 100% discount on the submission: DroneUpandSkytango.

Drone Film Festivals now open for submissions:

Drone Photography Contests now open for submissions:

Video of the Week

I just watched a great video perfectly combining music, video and dance. Art of Shades, directed by Colin Solal Cardo and aerial filmed by Athenium Films deservedly won several awards including the Grand Prix (Music Video) at Cinedrones Film Festival 2015, the Technical Category at New York City Drone Film Festival 2015 and Best In Show at San Francisco Flying Robot Film Festival 2015.

Thanks for reading and for sharing and as ever, safe flying.