Top drone industry news, hand-picked for you by the Skytango team with comments from Steve Flynn, Skytango’s CEO. Edition: June 19, 2017.
We enjoyed 2 beautiful days of summer here in Ireland. The sun was splitting the rocks!
Hot topics this week: Industrial Inspections, Data, DRL, Autonomous Flight. This news roundup is supported by Drone Industry Insights.
- Drone Laws & Regulations
- Drone Industry News
- Drone Technologies/New Products & Ideas
- Industry Stat of the Week
- Drone Journalism
- Aerial Filming & Photography
- Drone Events
- Drone Film & Photo Festivals
- Video of the Week
AUVSI (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) and 13 other organizations have sent a letter to members of the U.S. Congress to urge them to consider the potential consequences to the drone industry if the so-called Drone Federalism Act were to be enacted. You can see the letter here. The Drone Federalism Act, proposed by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, would empower state and local authorities to regulate unmanned aircraft systems.
The Dr. Michael Singer vs. City of Newton, MA case, which is being discussed in the U.S. District Court in Boston, is the first legal challenge to a local drone ordinance in the U.S.. As Christopher Korody highlights in his latest post, this is a good preview of what could happen if the Drone Federalism Act were to be enacted.
Zacc Dukowitz on UAV Coach provides a neat recap of what has happened over the last year on the drone regulations front, mostly in the U.S. – and with notes on other countries as well.
If you are a drone pilot in the U.S. and wonder what Part 137 is, this is the article for you. Lauren Sigfusson explains on Drone360 how Part 137 defines and regulates Agricultural Aircraft Operations.
The 68-year old Australian filmmaker James Ricketson has been accused of espionage by Cambodian authorities after flying a drone over an opposition rally.
My top read of the week was actually published last week: a really well-researched article on The Economist shows the current state of the drone industry and the challenges the industry will have to overcome in the near future to grow further on the commercial side.
Drones for industrial inspections are a hot topic this week.
General Electric has launched a startup called Avitas Systems, to offer inspection services via autonomous drones and robots to the oil and gas, transportation, and energy sectors. Through this move, GE aims at capturing a bigger slice of the $40 billion, companies around the globe spend annually on inspections.
Chris Leightell, VP of Sales at Industrial Skyworks, a commercial drone and data management solutions company that inspects infrastructure and assets using drones, offers five reasons why drone operations are growing in popularity in the oil and gas sector in Drone360.
5 is the magic number. Christopher Korody and Colin Snow just released “Five Valuable Business Lessons About Drones in Asset and Infrastructure Inspection”, fourth in a series of white papers intended to share lessons learned in specific industries and how to maximize the value drones can deliver in those industries.
A few changes at the executive level in the drone industry.
Last week Yuneec appointed a new CEO. This week, Airware founder and CEO Jonathan Downey, a well-known figure in the industry, has announced that he will step down as Airware’s CEO, passing the mantle to Airware’s COO Yvonne Wassenaar. The reasons behind this decision haven’t been communicated.
Also, Laura Ponto, who up to last week served as Head of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Project Wing at Google’s X, just became the new chairman of the board of the Commercial Drone Alliance.
Drones and data: hot topic this week.
Drone Industry Insights offers an interesting interview with CEO & Founder of Mobilicom Oren Elkayam on encrypted drone data links.
A great article on the University of Melbourne website shows the potential drones have for improving Australia’s agriculture industry – in particular through autonomous flight and data collection and analysis.
Jeremiah Karpowicz writes about the role that drones will play in the refinement process of the data they generate, and UAV Coach interviews Uplift Data Partners president Suzanne El-Moursi. Uplift Data Partners offers a turn-key solution for construction companies to adopt drone data into their business operations.
Talking about constructions. Liz Parsons from Hughes & Salvidge explains on Construction Manager Magazine the importance of drones in surveying and monitoring worksites and shares a good business case.
Another great profile I read this week: Catherine Ball, one of the top tech business women in Australia, and drone advocate explains how she got into the drone industry.
She also talks about the innovations we should expect in the commercial drone industry and the factors which will impact industry development including the intersections between drones and other technologies, the relation between drones and regulations, and the public perception of drones.
A lot of media attention on the Drone Racing League (DRL) this week.
The Drone Racing League raised $20M in Series B, led by U.K. satellite provider Sky, Liberty Media (owner of Formula 1) and Lux Capital. They also announced key multi-year, international partners and sponsors ahead of their 2017 race season.
Among the others, they announced a global collaboration with the hit Amazon Prime Video series The Grand Tour as part of its 2017 Allianz World Championship Race in London.
Now that the DJI Spark has shifted the bottom end of the drone market, other manufacturers are rethinking their pricing strategy. One of the first to move has been Parrot: over the summer months, customers will be able to buy the Bebop 2 and the Disco FPV at discount prices.
Why are the drones in Cirque Du Soleil’s Paramour show so popular this week? Christian Hoffman, responsible for strategy and finance at Verity Studios – the company which developed the drones and the technology used in the Broadway show – offers on Robohub more info on the drones used for the Cirque Du Soleil show.
Also, Sally French interviews him on her blog. If you want to read more on the behind-the-scenes of drones in this show, why don’t you check our interview with Raffaello D’Andrea, CEO of Verity Studios?
Delair-Tech, a leading commercial drone company, announced that its DT18 and DT26X drones have been selected as the official choice for French government agencies purchasing fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles.
I reviewed the Epson Moverio BT-300 glasses. They are a great piece of equipment which improves a drone pilots’ operational ability. Check my video on the official Epson UK YouTube channel.
Autonomous flight is a hot topic this week.
The first news on this topic comes from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Creare: they will receive $1 Million grant to develop autonomous flight vehicles.
The grant, which comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will be used to develop a highly sophisticated autonomous flight control system to navigate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in unknown dynamic environments, such as crowded urban locations, or in dangerous or hostile situations.
No GPS? No problem! NVIDIA researchers have developed a drone that easily navigates unmapped places by using deep learning and computer vision. The drone – a 3DR Iris+ – is powered by NVIDIA Jetson TX1 embedded AI supercomputers.
This low-flying autonomous drone technology was initially designed to help search for people lost in forests, but it could also inspect railroad tracks in tunnels, examine communication cables underwater, check stock on store shelves, work between skyscrapers or inside damaged buildings – anywhere where GPS is inaccurate or unavailable.
Curiously enough, here is similar research I read about this week. Dr. Mozhdeh Shahbazi, a professor at the University of Calgary, explains her research on UAV platforms able to operate without reliance on GPS in an interview with the Calgary Sun.
Last news on the topic of autonomous flights comes from the University of Pennsylvania, where researchers are developing drones called ‘SWARMS’ that can autonomously coordinate with each other using infrared cameras around the room.
The team is building off this technology to create autonomous drones that use onboard sensors to perform labor-intensive tasks, such as inspections or search and rescue.
A research team from the University of North Texas is testing a cell signal boosting drone – a flying station that could be flown into disaster areas to provide instant cellular services. At the moment, while flying at 400 feet and equipped with only 250 milliwatts of transmitting power, this aerial cell station covers an area of two kilometres. Developers predict that a 10-watt transmitter would allow cover for a town of 100.000 people or more.
BNC Scientific unveiled a radiation detecting UAV. Lightweight system WB Johnston Phoenix ACE RAD is capable of detecting gamma and x-rays from a safe distance and will complement the company’s family of nuclear detection technology.
A team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has designed a jacket fitted with sensors that track body movement and allows a drone pilot to steer a drone with body motions.
The Economist article I mentioned earlier included some figures from a recent Gartner research.
Last year around 110,000 drones were sold worldwide for commercial use. That figure is expected to rise to 174,000 in 2017. Consumer drones will ramp to 2.8 Million in 2017 from 2 Million in 2016.
As Gartner reports, although unit sales of commercial drones are much smaller, total revenues from them are nearly twice as big as for the consumer kind.
Randy Goers’ chat with Faine Greenwood on the Drone Radio Show is great listening this week. Faine is an analyst with New America, a Washington-based think tank, and a drone photographer and journalist involved in several research projects, as she shares in the podcast.
A guest post by Max Therry on Drone Supremacy offers great editing tips to aspiring aerial photographers.
Kevin Gallagher’s guest post on DroneBlog on how drones are changing the way movies get made offers recent examples of movies with aerial shots including “Lion” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”.
Defibrillator-carrying drones could save lives. A simulated study found that drones carrying a defibrillator, which could be used by a member of the public, arrived 16 minutes quicker than the emergency services on average, saving precious time. The 5.7kg (12.5lb) drone was developed by the Swedish Transportation Agency to carry a 763g (1.6lb) automated external defibrillator (AED).
A great profile on Silicon Republic highlights what our friends at DroneSAR are doing to improve search-and-rescue operations. DroneSAR is an Irish startup and recently jumped on the global scene thanks to a partnership with DJI.
Dreaming of spending some time in a Polynesian paradise? If you develop unmanned systems able to deliver in remote areas and over water, you can apply for the trials which the Vanuatu government and UNICEF will launch soon to test the use of drones to deliver vaccines to the island’s children.
A drone helped police track down four men after they allegedly shot two wild animals on a government farm in the Kei River area in South Africa last weekend. Kei wildlife has been plundered by poachers in recent months and environmental compliance and enforcement officials have had to rely on unmanned aerial vehicles to stop illegal hunting.
Los Angeles Fire Department has requested permission from the City Council to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles for firefighters training as well as fire and medical response, which could “deliver a strategic advantage, tactical effectiveness, and provide for a more efficient use of resources”, says Battalion Chief Richard Fields.
IISc Bangalore scientists are experimenting with drone seed-bombing, and hope to plant a forest. They held their first ever drone-seeding trial on June 5, World Environment Day. Their ultimate goal is to make the whole Gauribidanur area in Karnataka’s Kolar district area green and turn inaccessible areas into forests.
Max Blau of Stat News explains 6 ways drones could change health care including delivering medication, contraceptives over sub-Saharan Africa, blood samples to labs for swifter HIV testing and blood units to surgeons in remote parts of Rwanda amongst other things.
Philips Lighting is using drones equipped with the company’s Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology to help children in a Dutch hospital play a game with an autonomous indoor UAV that plays tic-tac-toe. The drone, developed by Blue Jay, uses the VLC technology to navigate and uses hand gestures by the children to play the game. The drone can also pick up and deliver objects to a location to assist those who are less mobile, Philips says.
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
- Energy Drone Coalition Summit Houston, USA (June 20-21, 2017). COUPON: SKYTANGO20 (20% discount event ticket)
- Drones East Africa Conference Nairobi, Kenya (June 20-21, 2017)
- Commercial UAV Expo Europe 2017 Brussels, Belgium (June 20-22, 2017). Meet me there! I’m speaking at this event!
- UK Drone Show London, UK (June 20-22, 2017)
- Shenzhen International UAV Expo 2017 Shenzen, China (June 23-25, 2017)
- Global UTM Conference 2017 Montreal, Canada (June 26, 2017)
- Northeast Drone Show 2017 Springfield, Massachusetts, United States (June 26-28, 2017)
- IDE International Drone Expo Shangai 2017 Shanghai, China (June 28-July 01, 2017)
- RoboUniverse Conference & Expo Seoul, South Korea (June 28-30, 2017)
- Intrasect Washington D.C., USA (June 29-30, 2017)
You still have a day to submit your aerial film to DroneUp International Film Festival 2017, 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:
- DroneUp International Film Festival (deadline: June 19, 2017). COUPON: DroneUpandSkytango (%100 discount code on submission)
- US Drone Film Festival (deadline: July 1, 2017)
- SkyPixel Video Contest (deadline: August 2, 2017)
- London Drone Film Festival (deadline: August 27, 2017)
- Peugeot Drone Film Festival (deadline: September 30, 2017)
- InterDrone Film Festival (deadline: July 7, 2017). COUPON: Drone2017 (100% discount on submission)
- D.C. Drone Film Festival (deadline: October 2, 2017)
- CinéDrones International Film Festival (deadline: October 10, 2017)
Drone Photography Contests now open for submissions:
- Dronestagram (deadline: June 30, 2017)
- London Drone Film Festival (“Still photography” category. deadline: August 27, 2017)
- Light and Composition Award (deadline: rolling)
- Proify Awards (“Drone” category. deadline: October 31, 2017)
- ND Awards (“Aerial” category. deadline: September 24, 2017)
I watched a beautiful video of the Spanish island of Lanzarote, directed by Oliver Astrologo and Nils Astrologo (who is also the operator of the DJI Phantom 4 used for shooting). It made me very nostalgic for the volcanic island where I spent some time last Summer.
Thanks for reading and for sharing and as ever, safe flying.