FAA: Military drone flew out of control over Upstate New York

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A small military drone flew out of control last month along the Susquehanna River west of Binghamton, prompting a series of alerts and warnings to pilots in Upstate New York.

Operators of the unmanned Desert Hawk IIIreported losing contact with the fixed-wing aircraft at 3:21 p.m. July 24, according to a newly disclosed incident report from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA control tower at Binghamton reported that an operator of the remotely piloted aircraft called to say “they have lost control of a drone and to watch out.” Meanwhile, a pilot in the area reported spotting the rogue drone as it meandered through the region.

The FAA did not disclose the operator of the drone.

But a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Corp. confirmed Monday that the military drone was on a test flight from Lockheed’s facility in Owego, N.Y.

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Army Reachers Develop Pocket- Sized Aerial Surveillance Device

 

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NATICK, Mass. (Nov. 19, 2014) — Researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are developing technologies for a pocket-sized aerial surveillance device for Soldiers and small units operating in challenging ground environments.

The Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, or CP-ISR, seeks to develop a mobile Soldier sensor to increase the situational awareness of dismounted Soldiers by providing real-time video surveillance of threat areas within an immediate operational environment.

While larger systems have been used to provide over-the-hill ISR capabilities on the battlefield for almost a decade, none deliver it directly to the squad level, where Soldiers need the ability to see around the corner or into the next room during combat missions.

When Soldiers and small units need to assess the threat in a village, or in thick canopy terrain where traditional ISR assets cannot penetrate, the CP-ISR can be deployed to provide that capability.

“The Cargo Pocket ISR is a true example of an applied systems approach for developing new Soldier capabilities,” said Dr. Laurel Allender, acting technical director, U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC. “It provides an integrated capability for the Soldier and small unit for increased situational awareness and understanding with negligible impact on Soldier load and agility.”

NSRDEC engineers investigated existing commercial off-the-shelf technologies to identify a surrogate CP-ISR system.

Prox Dynamics’ PD-100 Black Hornet, a palm-sized miniature helicopter weighing only 16 grams, has the ability to fly up to 20 minutes while providing real-time video via a digital data link from one of the three embedded cameras and operates remotely with GPS navigation. Tiny, electric propellers and motors make the device virtually undetectable to subjects under surveillance.

The size, weight and image-gathering capabilities of the system are promising advancements that fulfill the burgeoning requirement for an organic, squad-level ISR capability, but more work still needs to be done.

Several efforts are underway to develop three different aspects of the technology to ensure it is ready for the Soldier and small unit.

The first of these efforts is focused on a redesign of the digital data link to achieve compatibility with U.S. Army standards.

The second focuses on developing and integrating advanced payloads for low-light imaging, allowing for indoor and night operations.

Lastly, researchers are continuing to develop and enhance guidance, navigation and control, or GNC, algorithms for the CP-ISR surrogate system. This will allow the airborne sensor to operate in confined and indoor spaces, such as when Soldiers advance from room to room as they are clearing buildings.

In November 2014, NSRDEC will collaborate with the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the Army Research Laboratory and other organizations to support the Army Capabilities Integration Center’s Manned Unmanned Teaming (Ground) Limited Objective Experiment, by demonstrating the current capabilities of mobile Soldier sensors.

While the final system could be different from the surrogate system, NSRDEC officials said they are focused on proving the basic capability first.

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India: Drone Ban Hurting Industry Companies

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Several companies have had to stop using drones to provide services such as aerial photography after the aviation authority banned the operation of these unmanned vehicles in civilian airspace until regulations are in place.

The decision has set back plans of companies offering a variety of services using drones, including those by online retailer Amazon to deploy them to speed up delivery of products to consumers, according to defence analyst Debajit Sarkar of research firm Market Info Group.

Mumbai-based Airpix, with clients such as Reliance Energy and builders Kalpataru and Omkar Realtors, had to stop offering its flagship aerial photography service since the Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued the circular earlier this month.

“We have reached out to DGCA and we are yet to figure out what to do,” said Shinil Shekhar, the 25-year-old cofounder of Airpix.

Although aerial photography was its core offering, the company said it plans to launch a new product next month that will help contribute to revenue.

The DGCA is in the process of formulating regulations and globally harmonising them for certification and operation for use of unmanned aerial systems in Indian civil airspace, the regulator said in a circular dated October 7.
For full article details visit: http://bit.ly/Indiadrone

New Israeli Drone Joins Fighting in Gaza

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has introduced its Elbit systems Hermes-900 unmanned air system (UAS) into service ahead of schedule to support operation “Protective Edge”.

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According to the original plan the Hermes-900 was scheduled for operational use in 2015. The IAF is operating the Elbit systems Hermes-450 and Hermes -900 unmanned air systems from the same base and in missions that require the flexibility that these two platforms enable.

The two types have been deployed in the IAF’s Palmachim air base in central Israel and according to the IAF are performing intelligence and forces directing missions around the clock.

The Hermes-900 (Cochav) medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAS is is carrying a large variety of sensor derived from Elbit’s key technologies that have been implemented so far on manned aircraft and ground systems.

 

Source: http://bit.ly/1zDkrne

UAV Enthusiasts: Drone Photography Is Not A Crime

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For several drone photography enthusiasts, their own footage has been their best defense against spurious charges.

David Beesmer was arrested by a New York state trooper on Tuesday and charged with a felony — unlawful surveillance in the second degree — for recording aerial video footage of the Mid Hudson Medical Group building in Ulster, New York, which just opened last Monday.

Beesmer was in the area because he had taken his mother to a doctor’s appointment at the hospital. He posted on Facebook that he wanted to fly his aerial drone in the area because he was “so very proud of this facility and that someone has done something positive with the property that has been abandoned for many years.”

But since Beesmer was reportedly flying his $1,300 drone between 10 and 15 feet from the windows of examination rooms at the medical facility — close enough for patients and medical staff to notice it — his use of the equipment became an issue.

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Public Comment Period for Controversial FAA Rules for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Model Aircraft) Closes Soon

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The Federal Aviation Administration (the FAA) has already received more than 3,000 comments on a controversial Notice of Interpretation (the Notice) regarding the special rule for model aircraft in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (the Act).

The Act directs the Department of Transportation to develop a comprehensive plan to accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system and provide guidance regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft systems. The Act defines unmanned aircraft as “an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.” Unmanned aircraft are more commonly referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.

Section 336(a) of the Act prohibits the FAA from promulgating any rule or regulation regarding model aircraft if:

  1. the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
  2. the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines;
  3. the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds;
  4. the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
  5. when flown within five miles of an airport, the operator provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (if applicable) with prior notice of the operation.

Section 336(c) defines a “model aircraft” as an unmanned aircraft that:

  • is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
  • is flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and
  • is flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

On June 16, the FAA issued the Notice, which provides additional guidance interpreting the special rule in the Act. First, the Notice sets forth the FAA’s position that model aircraft that meet the exception are not necessarily excepted from all rulemaking having an effect on model aircraft, including rulemakings that apply to all aircraft. Second, the Notice interprets the “visual line of sight” requirement to exclude the use of first-person view/remote-person view technology. Third, the Notice interprets the “hobby or recreational purpose” requirement to exclude commercial operations and flights in furtherance of business, or incidental to business. According to the examples provided in the Notice, an operator may fly a model aircraft at the local model aircraft club, but may not receive money for demonstrating aerobatics. Similarly, an operator may take photographs for personal use, but a realtor may not photograph property he or she is trying to sell. An operator of a model aircraft may move a box from point to point without compensation, but may not deliver packages for a fee. Finally, an operator may use model aircraft to view a field to determine if crops grown for personal enjoyment need water, but may not if the crops are grown as part of a commercial farming operation.

The Notice also sets forth the FAA’s position regarding its enforcement authority. Section 336(b) provides that the FAA may pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system. In the Notice, the FAA concludes that Congress intended for the FAA to rely on its existing regulations to protect the safety of the national airspace system and sets forth a non-exhaustive list of regulations that apply to model aircraft.

The comment period for the Notice ends on July 25. Comments received to date indicate strong opposition to the rules prohibiting the use of first-person view technology as well as the restrictive interpretation of the phrase “hobby and recreational purpose.”

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Rockwell Collins and NASA to conduct tests aimed at safe integration of UAS into national airspace

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, 24 June 2014. 

Rockwell Collins and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officials have scheduled risk reduction tests with the goal of enabling unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to operate safely in national airspace.

“Routine integration of sizeable numbers of UAS into the national airspace system is a challenging task,” explains Troy Brunk, vice president and general manager of Airborne Solutions for Rockwell Collins. “This technology will provide the critical communications link for UAS pilots on the ground to safely and securely operate their remotely piloted vehicles in flight even though they are many miles apart.”

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The NASA-owned Lockheed S-3 Viking and the University of Iowa Operator Performance Laboratory’s Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft will serve as surrogates for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during two phases of testing.   More…

Watch: UAVs Searching for Teens

Following the abduction of three teens in Gush Etzion Thursday, forces from the IDF’s Sky Rider unit have fanned out in the region and are assisting in collection of intelligence.

The unit specializes in operating unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, and the aircraft are performing a variety of missions – mostly, extensively combing both uninhabited and inhabited areas for signs of the missing youths.

“From the morning hours of Friday, we are in action in order to assist the forces in the Judea and Samaria sectors,” the commander of a Sky Rider battalion, Captain Yohai Versano, told the IDF Website. “Afterward, we provided security for forces that took part in special operations in the sector.” The other Sky Rider teams also took part in collection of intelligence in Judea and Samaria as well as other relevant sectors.

UAVs have some distinct advantages over other means of data collection in this kind of intelligence mission. “We are at the immediate disposal of the company commander and the force carrying out the operation. We assist all of the forces operating in the arena in their missions. We will collect information before the operation and relay it to the force,” explained Versano. “Once there is an identification, we can interface with observation units and the forces on the ground. If they ask to see a house, I can show them the house and the road leading to it, that is our main purpose here.”

The UAV unit participated in nighttime operations, including the large number of arrests that were carried out following the abduction. “They divided up the teams, which joined up with the different units that carried out arrests. They assisted in the arrest itself as well as opening up the route of movement. We made sure no one could run away.”

Via: http://bit.ly/1sjpEQS

Drones Join Fight to Protect African Wildlife

Unmanned aircraft are getting more affordable. Companies are pushing the boundaries of drone technology — and now, that includes protecting nature.

In Morrison, Colo., near Denver, a group is finding new use for its drones, 9,000 miles away.

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration is still working on regulations and standards for drones, but overseas in Africa, unmanned aircraft are already being used over game parks, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues.

Even at night, thermal imaging drones can track wildlife. With an eye in the sky, drones are able to do things humans could never do.

In places like Namibia, drones — unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs — have been purchased to monitor game parks and to track poachers.

Crawford Allen, director of The World Wildlife Fund North America, said, “The poachers out there know that there is something in the sky that is looking for them. … We think (drone technology) is going to be an important tool that will help produce far more effectiveness in protecting these precious species.”

The World Wildlife Fund is working with the government of Namibia by providing technical help as the country’s park rangers learn how to fly the drones.

A $20,000 eye-in-the-sky can track elephants and rhinos.
Full details via http://cbsn.ws/1oSHveZ