Larry Bonura's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Aviation Week & Space Technology

Ubiquitous UAVs, or Where are the Drones? They are Everywhere!

I’ve always been intrigued with the use of drones. My family has many fans of remote-controlled vehicles of all types. I tried my hand at flying these devices, but it usually ended in a crash. So, I was told to watch, and let someone do the flying. No problem, I said. I’ll do what I do best: seek out information about those flying machines to share with others.

In reading through the various media over the past few weeks, here is a sampling of what’s going on in the drone world:

Ginger Hill reports in Security Today (10 Dec) that small towns in Colorado are not taking kindly to the FAA allowing drones to fly in domestic space, mainly because the residents consider it an invasion of their privacy. Read her story on Deer Trail’s decision to postpone a vote on drone hunting, à la Deer Park back in July.

In the 8 Dec Boston Globe, Mary Cummings, director of the MIT Humans and Automation Laboratory, writes that the United States needs “to join the aviation revolution” and let those drones find their way into commercial settings, as they do in Japan, Britain, and South Africa. She writes, “Recently the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimated that the United States is losing $10 billion a year by not having access to the national airspace.”

The New South Wales (Australia) Department of Primary Industries is working with “university experts” to explore the use of drones to scan its shores for sharks to protect bathers, according to The Sydney Morning Herald on 11 Dec. Nicole Hasham writes, “The cost of specifically built vehicles with surveillance and search-and-rescue capabilities ranges from $130,000 to more than $2 million.” The report also said pilots would need to travel from beach to beach to use the equipment, which must stay in a line of sight with the operator. Surf Life Saving Australia is conducting a drone trial at North Stradbroke Island.

The U.S. Navy demonstrated its ability to launch surveillance UAVs stealthily from submerged submarines, according to Military & Aerospace Electronics (6 Dec). John Keller writes, “The Naval Research Laboratory says it has demonstrated the launch of an all-electric, fuel cell-powered, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from the fast attack submarine USS Providence (SSN 719) while the submarine was underwater.” The Providence is one of the smallest submarines in the U.S. subsurface forces.

Dan Goodin writes in Ars Technica (3 Dec) about a flying hacker contraption that hunts other drones and turns them into zombies. Serial hacker Samy Kamkar has released all the hardware and software specifications that hobbyists need to build an aerial drone, dubbed SkyJack, that seeks out other drones in the air, hacks them, and turns them into a conscripted army of unmanned vehicles under the attacker’s control.

A large, classified unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman is now flying, claims Amy Butler in Aviation Week & Space Technology (6 Dec). The RQ-180 demonstrates a major advance in combining stealth and aerodynamic efficiency. Defense and intelligence officials, she writes, say the secret unmanned aircraft, designed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, is scheduled to enter production for the U.S. Air Force and could be working by 2015. The RQ-180 carries radio-frequency sensors such as active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, and passive electronic surveillance measures, according to one defense official. It could also be capable of electronic attack missions.

In November, the FAA released its “thin privacy guidelines” for the first domestic drone “test sites,” which will allow commercial unmanned aerial systems to start flying over US airspace in 2015. April Glaser and Jennifer Lynch write in the Electronic Frontier Foundation (10 Dec) that “The final privacy rules (PDF) are for the six drone test sites that the agency will use to evaluate how drones will be integrated into domestic air traffic.” These new privacy requirements, issued just days after Senator Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill, the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act (PDF), are intended to codify essential privacy and transparency requirements within the FAA’s regulatory framework for domestic drones and drone test sites.

The Professional Society of Drone Journalist (PSJD) announces the opening of its website—Drone Journalism. Established in 2011, PSJD is the first international organization dedicated to establishing the ethical, educational, and technological framework for the emerging field of drone journalism. The site authors write, “We develop small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) for journalists, and explore best practices to deploy them for a variety of reporting needs, including investigative, disaster, weather, sports, and environmental journalism.”

Enjoy the reading…and watch out, the drones are coming. Make that, the drones are here, and coming on stronger.