2016: The year of the drone
The term UAV stands for unmanned aerial vehicle. Also known as a drone, these pilot-operated flying machines are one of the most talked about technological innovations on the market today.
Recent laws and advances in technology are together making 2016 the year of the drone. Consumers can expect to see some of the following trends in UAVs over the next twelve months:
Better picture quality
Most people who fly drones whether for monetary or recreational purposes do so to take amazing photography and videography. People are becoming more and more reliant on drones for capturing stunning aerial images.
Real estate agents love drones because they can get top-down photos of the homes they’re responsible for selling at a much cheaper cost than hiring a helicopter pilot and photographer. Before now, mainstream drones did not offer cameras with outstanding picture quality.
At the end of 2015, some UAV companies began offering drones equipped with cameras that have sold in the past for thousand dollars, now at just over one thousand dollars.
Like most technology, tech gadgets sell for higher prices when they first come out. Over time, the market becomes saturated with the product and price begins to drop.
Generally, new innovations are made to existing products and as they become the norm, the price goes down and drones are predicted to follow suit. UAV consumers can also expect to see more Chinese drones available on the market in 2016.
Several Chinese companies are now investing in the development of their own UAV model. This could be a great thing for drone buyers since most Chinese products tend to sell for less than American-made.
State of the art sensors
Sensors will likely be a new trend in 2016 drones. The latest drones may be equipped with near-infrared (NIR), thermal, and ultrasonic sensors.
These latest sensors will make drone usage much more popular in professional fields. Thermal sensors on drones can be used to help firefighters know how large and how powerful a fire is before entering a home.
It can also track human bodies that may be trapped inside even if the house is completely overtaken by smoke. Ultrasonic sensors on drones can detect possible interference in the air to avoid crashes.
This is especially useful for anyone who uses drones to survey rocky landscapes. Anyone using a drone in a mountainous area can understand the danger of a drone crash as they may not be able to safely recover the drone after an unexpected fall. NIR sensors on drones are the latest hit in agriculture.
The sensors can determine how well crops are doing by identifying the amount of chlorophyll in the plants. This technology is expected to save billions for farmers who will no longer need to employ teams of surveyors to do a visual inspection and report.
The old method of having humans physically inspect each crop is time-consuming and prone to error. The more scientific approach of using drones to monitor the vegetation is much faster, accurate, and economical.
The military already uses drones to conduct operations and police officers are beginning to see the advantages of having a flying assistant.
Colorado’s Mesa County has two police drones that they use in search and rescue efforts whenever someone is reported missing. The sheriff’s office also uses the drones to take aerial photos of crime scenes, which can be converted into high-tech 3D images.
The North Dakota state police are working a lot with drones as well. Their drones can be legally allowed to administer non-lethal force to criminals in perilous situations.
The UAV pilot can control the drone and tell it to shoot pepper spray or rubber bullets when necessary. They also use their drones to scout and record aerial photos of vehicular collisions.
In this way, they have a leg up on determining who could be at fault for the crash. With such reported success, citizens can look forward to more policy departments adopting a pro-UAV policy.
More piloting schools
Because of changes in the law, the FAA now requires individuals who pilot drones professionally to attend a UAV piloting school and graduate to become certified.
There weren’t many of these schools prior to the change in regulations, but with the certain interest of clientele now needing to enroll to keep their jobs or start a new career, the demand for piloting schools is rapidly growing.
The trends predicted for drones in 2016 are almost guaranteed to come to pass unless there is a shocking change in the law.
Citizens are concerned about privacy and safety when it comes to UAVs, but it is likely that soon they will embrace how the latest technology can change their lives in a positive way in 2016 and in the years to come.
UAV drones and other manned crafts are here to stay. They have gained popularity as hobbyist toys and fun gadgets, but also as commercial, high-end tech with industry potential. The growth of drones – both regarding their tech and potential – means a large number of crafts taking to the skies. To fly responsibly require rules and FAA regulations for UAV drones.
The FAA has worked on these laws and regulations for some years, with the latest update in August 2016. They are work in progress, but not something to take lightly. These laws are an important part of drone use because they help to regulate the system and protect users.
These regulations have been in place since 2014 when the National Transportation Safety Board finalized the classification of drones as aircraft. This subsequently meant that all drones are subject to FAA regulations. Those that abide by the rules can fly drones. Those that don’t face fines other penalties.
The FAA regulations and UAV drone laws have their pros and cons. They provide strict guidelines to protect users, bystanders, property and airspace. They also have potential waivers for individual cases. Some feel that they are too limited and need more room to develop. Either way, operators need to understand how these laws affect their activity.
Important Rules For Model Drones And Other Hobby Craft
Naturally, any people assume that these detailed laws only regard the large-scale commercial drones that may be a risk to other people. Model craft and hobbyist drones don’t have that much weight attached – literally and figuratively. There are still laws in force for this sub-group, and a whole chapter devoted to them in the August review. These models are not above the law, even if they are small, light and don’t fly very far.
It is important to know what classes as a hobby drone or model aircraft under these rules.
Simply put, a model aircraft, in this capacity, is an unmanned aircraft capable of what they call “sustained flight in the atmosphere.” It is flown within the operator’s clear visual line of sight, and it used purely for hobby or recreational purposes. This is a pretty simple explanation. It covers all small UAV drones that are flown for fun – not commercial means – but must obey similar guidelines on flights and safety.
Key flight limitations and safety guidelines for these model drones.
There are limitations on these hobby drones in terms of size and ability. Those that exceed these rules are either classed as a commercial craft or simply breaking the law. The first consideration is the weight, as the drone cannot exceed 55 pounds unless otherwise certified.
Like all drones, there are important rules on the distance and visibility of the drone in the pilot’s line of sight. Here the rules are a little more relaxed as there are few concerns over the use of first person view operation or night flights. Still, the latter is only an option if the drone has the appropriate lighting for that clear view.
One surprising clause here is that there are currently unrestricted flight altitudes. Pilots have more freedom to roam unless they are within three miles of an airport. This is where tough rules on airport airspace come into effect again.
Some pilots may feel that safety guidance isn’t as important here as for the larger commercial models below. However, this is still a drone capable of damage and must be flown with care and respect.
The FAA insist that all pilots fly within what they state as a “community-based set of safety guidelines” which comply with the “programming of a nationwide community-based organization.”
Many basic, common-sense ideas are in place; such are a prohibition on flying directly over people, vessels, vehicles or buildings without the proper protection. Also, “hand-catch” landings are also forbidden. This is where pilots reach up and grab the craft out of the air as it returns. This is dangerous when rotor blade is in motion and can cause injury.
Finally, model aircraft users need to make sure that they are registered.
Some model drone users may not consider the need for registration. There is the sense that this level of regulation and paperwork is just required the large, commercial models. There are clear rules on registering hobbyist drones and fines for those that don’t comply.
The new FAA regulations state that owners must register if their craft is above the designated weight. Those that fail to do so may risk civil penalties of up to $27,500 and criminal penalties of up to $250,000. There is also the risk of imprisonment on top of that. It isn’t worth the risk when it takes so little effort to register. A registration fee of $5.00 covers all the UAV drones and other items owned. It is a one-time thing.
Other Non-Manned Aircraft And Drones
There are also important rules and laws in place for all commercial non-manned UAVs. It all starts with some basic operating limitations for the aircraft and the pilot. The ground speed of the UAV cannot exceed 87 knots, the altitude must not be greater than 400 feet above ground level, and the minimum flight visibility can be no less than three statute miles.
The operator, meanwhile, must have the appropriate training and certification for the job. The exception to the rule applies to those under the direct supervision of a licensed remote pilot in command with the ability to take immediate direct control. The operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft at one time is also prohibited.
Many rules refer to drone flight in the proximity of people, buildings, and other craft.
All operators must fly their UAV drones in a manner that does not put other people, aircraft or property at risk. This means that drones cannot fly directly over people with two clear exceptions. Either they are participating in the operation and aware of the situation, or they are within a covered structure or stationary vehicle with what the FAA cal “reasonable protection.”
Then there is the area of flight and proximity to airspace and airports. Operators cannot fly those drones in Class B, Class C or Class D airspace without the authorization of Air Traffic Control (ATC)107.43 Operation cannot interfere with “operations and traffic patterns” in any form of the airfield or airbase.
This all leads to concerns over visibility. This is one of the main issues with drone use. A drone has to be visible to the pilot at all times. Therefore, pilots must ensure a visual line of sight that is “unaided by any device other than corrective lenses” and be aware of the craft’s location at all times. This means a clear understanding of altitude, distance and direction, and proximity to people, structures, and hazards. There are also rules on daylight operation where pilots must not fly in the “periods of civil twilight” without clear anti-collision lighting
This is all essential for the safety of all concerned.
Safety and safe operation are the number one concern for any pilot, and this regards their well-being, the safety of other people and the risks posed by the device. There are strict safety laws on the operation of these UAV drones.
Nobody can operate them in a “careless or reckless manner.” This includes restrictions on use while under the influences of drugs or alcohol, or if the pilot has a known medical condition that may affect reaction times and abilities.
As for the device itself, there are clear laws on the condition and use of these machines. There is a sub-clause on the condition for safe operation that states that nobody can fly a machine that isn’t in flight-ready condition. Therefore, users must perform safety checks on the condition of the UAV and the systems before each flight.
A faulty channel, rotor or battery could be disastrous. Also, pilots must be careful with additional items and packages on the drones. Pilots cannot drop objects in a way that may cause damage or harm to people or property. There are also laws against the “carriage of hazardous material,” for fairly obvious reasons.
What Are Waivers And Why Are They Such An Important Part Of Drone Laws?
Waivers essential act as a loophole in a world of either insufficient or inappropriate legislation. The current guidelines under these laws are a bit of a one-size-fits-all approach to drone regulations. They lump all drone operators together under the same rules with little breathing room.
Many operators and companies will not be able to carry out their goals with these limitations. Therefore, they need to apply for a waiver to cover their actions. These waivers are essential in some industries that need to fly a little further, a little higher or work needs people.
At the moment, the FAA has a clear subsection on the use of, and application for, waivers for drone operation. Companies can apply for a waiver directly that will authorize them to break’ certain rules.
Administrators will apply for these waivers if they feel that the applicant can still operate in a safe manner under these new terms. They also have the power to impose additional limitations depending on the situation. This is important because it removes this one-size-fits-all approach and works on more of a case-by-case nature.
Why Might Companies Apply For, And Receive A Waiver From The FAA?
Many operators will apply for a waiver based on the need to fly outside of the pilot’s line of sight. This rule limits the flight capabilities and purpose of drones.
Pilots with FPV and a good safety record could push the boundaries if permitted. Others have tried to take this further and applied for a waiver to operate without a pilot watching at all. However, this has only been successful a total of three times. Waivers to fly over people are even rarer.
The FAA have, at the time of writing, awarded just the one waiver of this type to CNN. There have only been 322 recorded waivers for commercial drones as of the beginning of 2017. However, this decision for CNN suggests that there is room for negotiation.
Companies that want to expand drone use will look upon these waivers and decisions quite favorably. These waivers on visibility, distance and flight time are important for all those looking into delivery, maintenance and surveillance programs.
Delivery companies are keen to employ drones for automated drop-offs. The problem is that UAV drones cannot fly over densely populated areas, or people and cannot leave the operator’s line of sight.
Waivers and new rules open the door to great flight times and new flight paths in the right hands. The same is true for those using drones to survey large areas of land or power lines. A recent delivery shows the potential here. In May 2017, a drone flew 97 miles along a delivery route in Austin, Texas. This was the longest drone deliveries yet, partly because of the route it had to take.
While waivers loosen the laws, the Trump administration are out to tighten them.
The current problem for drone development and law changes is that President Trump has set up his road block. It comes in the form of an executive order. It reads:
“ Unless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice…or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.” Therefore, every new rule that the FAA comes up with for drone use must see two rules repealed. This could mean one step forward and two steps back for drone use.
There are tough drone laws and regulations for a reason, and they may not get easier anytime soon.
The rules and regulations for the August 2016 FAA amendment are long and complex. This guide is a summary of the key points and major themes. Drone operators and companies relying on the tech need to read the full clauses carefully. There are then two choices.
Users can either abide by the rules or apply for a waiver to bend them to suit their needs. While the latter is possible, with interesting decisions for news agencies and potential for delivery companies, there are still obstacles in place.
Some people see drones as nothing more than a bit of fun. They are toys and tools that provide people with entertainment and some aerial footage.
The problem with this idea is that it overlooks the development of these drones as large, dangerous pieces that can fall from the sky. This is a heavy piece of machinery with a series of rotors – 4 spinning blades on the fastest quadcopters – that can do some damage.
There are some important areas of insurance coverage to look at here. They include personal injury, property, privacy torts and general liability insurance.
The FAA has guidelines in place to stop drone users from getting into too much trouble and ensure that the device is under control.
Drones of a certain size can only be flown with the right training and a license. Those operators then need to make sure that they keep the drone in view at all times, without going too far or too high.
Naturally, it is common sense for operators to avoid power lines, buildings and build up areas. Also, drones cannot be flown over people for safety reasons. This leads nicely to the first of the key reasons for getting insurance – personal injury.
Drones And Personal Injury Insurance
The danger of drones is clear in footage of anyone that tries to catch a flying drone in midair. The blade can do a lot of damage. Therefore, users need to be careful not to get too close to people and risk injury. There is also the risk that the device could lose control over crowds in high wind or if the battery fails.
A crash landing onto a bystander could be dangerous. Those that are properly insured have some protection in these circumstances. An injured party could sue those that own the drone or the company involved, even if they hired a pilot for the day.
Drones And Property Insurance
In addition to this potential damage to people, there is the potential damage to property. This is true with drones working around buildings in a professional context.
Building contractors, surveyors, and real estate agents all use drones to look at the building from a new angle. They can see damage, energy loss and other potential problems. They can also take impressive photographs.
The problem is that there is too much risk of damage to buildings and windows. An errant drone crashing into a property could do some damage, which is especially problematic when trying to sell someone else’s home.
Drones And Privacy
Privacy is another issue with drone operation that some newcomers tend to forget. There is the chance that they could have a drone flying over the property with cameras attached. This may be unintentional on the flight path, but property owners can see this as intrusive. Pilots are seemingly spying and invading privacy. Privacy insurance protects against this.
Exemptions And Considerations In Drone Insurance Plans
It is also important to remember that there are clauses and exclusions in these liability insurance claims. No operator is free to roam and do what they want with this safety net beneath them. An example of this is the illegal acts exclusion for intentional violations of the law, as opposed to negligent acts.
There are also issues of workers’ compensation insurance. There are many terms and condition here, which just highlight the importance of a good insurance plan for all drones.
The best operators are the ones with full coverage and a sense of reliability.
These issues highlight why it is so important for people to hire drone operators with insurance for their needs, and why drone pilots need coverage. This is true when hiring aerial photographers or aerial surveyors for a project.
Companies and homeowners need to know they have a person they can trust and that safety net if something goes wrong. Also, companies that outsource to drone operators for their project could face action themselves if something goes wrong.
A property owner or injured party will look at the company sending up the drone before the operator regarding compensation. In the end, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems, also known as drones are revolutionizing industries from across the board. This has led to some experts asserting that drones are the future.
In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suggested that as many as 600,000 drones would fly commercially in 2017.The Association for Unmanned Systems International (AUVI) is one of the foremost organizations in the drones industry.
One of the biggest ways through which the organization has impacted the drone industry is through the annual XPONENTIAL experience. This is an exhibition which provides a platform for drone enthusiasts from all over the world to meet, network, deliberate and showcase their inventions and ideas.
The 2017 show will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas.
Who is Attending?
AUVSI XPONENTIAL is the largest such exhibition in the unmanned systems industry and this year, it is expected to draw as many as 7,000 professionals within the unmanned vehicle and robotics industries.
Also included is cutting edge technology from more than 600 companies all around the world and representing at least 20 industries including energy, construction, agriculture, automated vehicles, defense and even oil & gas. Some of the attendees/participants expected in this year’s event include;
- American Airlines
- The Dow Chemical Company
- Department of Defense
- Department of Interior
- The FBI
- Microsoft Research, Adaptive Systems and Interaction
- Uber Advanced Technologies Center
- IBM Corporation
For drone enthusiasts, the exhibition is a chance to get insight from the most influential people in the industry. It is also an opportunity to gain insights into topical issues, trade secrets & best practices and even keep at par with the latest advances in the industry. In line with this, several keynote speakers are going to be at AUVSI EXPONENTIAL, and they include;
- Brian Krzanich the CEO of Intel Corporation
- Terry McAuliffe the Governor of Virginia
- Jim Cantore who is a house-hold name in weather and who will also double up as the host of the 2017 show.
What Is On Offer?
The 2017 AUVSI XPONENTIAL will feature four distinct programs;
i. The Policy program will focus on issues to do with airspace, cooperation of local, state and federal agencies, international trade and the regulatory landscape of the industry.
ii. The Technology program will feature innovation in the defense industry as well as in the commercial industry and particularly drone delivery. It will also delve into the protection of intellectual property and software development in the drone industry.
iii. The Business Solutions program will delve into remote sensing, the use of drones in the wireless industry as well as in applications such as mapping and imaging.
iv. The Educational program which includes technical sessions that feature white papers as well as a presentation on government and defense opportunities in the drone industry. This will also feature unique sessions such as those providing insight into the role of women and diversity in the drone industry.
Most importantly, AUVSI XPONENTIAL will provide a platform for attendees from all across the divide to network and interact. In fact, there are some special events specifically meant to facilitate networking and interaction among participants. They are;
- Exhibitor Reception
- First Timers Reception
- Welcome Reception
- Chairman’s Reception
- XPO Hall Networking Receptions
- Start-up Showdown Happy Hour
- The Mix (which allows attendees to experience the southern culture).
What Else Is Worth Knowing?
The organizers of AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2017 have made things easier for attendees by developing several onsite services meant to improve their experience.
Organizers have reserved several room blocks in seventeen hotels around the venue of the event. These include the Crown Plaza Downtown Dallas, Hotel Indigo Downtown Dallas and Hyatt Regency Dallas among others.
In addition to that, attendees staying in the hotels with reserved room blocks will have complimentary shuttle services provided to them with the exception of the Aloft Dallas Downtown, Omni Hotel Dallas and La Quinta Inn & Suite Downtown Dallas all of which are a walking distance from the venue.
Attendees coming in their vehicles also have the benefit of access to ample parking for cars, trucks and trailers within the venue grounds. However, there is a parking fee of $15 per day for each vehicle.
It is also important to note this will not include in and out privileges and neither will it include overnight parking or utility connections for attendees using recreational vehicles (RVs).
iii. AUVSI XPONENTIAL attendees will also have the liberty of taking up dining options at the convention center as well as complimentary internet and Wi-Fi in all the lobbies within the convention center.
The UAV is an acronym for “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle”, which is a flying machine with no pilot. It is controlled by a pilot with a remote from a ground station. With drone usage on the rise, investing in UAV or Drone training courses could be life-changing.
Check Out These 4 Interesting Facts:
1. Professional appearance
When someone is looking for a drone pilot to help them photograph anything from an aerial point of view they will seek out someone they feel has the knowledge and experience to provide them with the best work. Since there are no “official” training courses right now that are required by law, lots of drone pilots’ bypass taking a course.
A pilot that is able to honestly advertise that they have completed a course in their field lead by certified instructors will be a step above the rest.
2. Prepare for the future
Though the FAA doesn’t yet have clear, enforceable laws when it comes to the certification of a drone pilot, it’s very likely to change sooner rather than later. By electing to take a course in UAV/drone piloting now, it could potentially save the pilots a headache in the future.
Since courses right now are optional, no one is forced to take one or lose their job. Course administrators have to keep their prices relatively affordable or few people will sign up for the course.
If the course became mandated by law then the prices for these courses would probably go up tremendously because the administrators would know that they can raise the price and pilots who want to keep their jobs will just have to pay.
In the very likely event that the government does intervene, those who already have their requirements met will be able to be booking gigs while those who procrastinated have to spend time getting caught up.
3. Get better
when a pilot takes the time and effort to complete a course that isn’t even government mandated, it shows how much they truly care about improving their skills and providing quality work for their clients.
As technology progresses, so does the potential for better photography if the pilot knows what he’s doing. By taking a course, pilots can learn the latest techniques in aerial photography as well as the most basic and proven methods.
The most important reason why an individual should invest in a drone piloting course is so they can make the experience as safe as possible. In these classes, safety takes precedence over all other factors involved. UAV piloting classes will help prepare pilots for the unthinkable such as a sudden change in weather or how to handle a flock of birds.
Pilots will also be taught how to manually pilot their drones so that they’re able to properly fly their drone without the use of GPS or autopilot settings.
Most of the newer drones come with a feature that enables the drone to touch down at its take-off point, unfortunately, this is not always exact and sometimes touching down at the same point is not feasible, examples being the initial launch was on a boat or the area of the first launch is now crowded with people.
Every hobbyist has to start somewhere. If you have a passion for flying drones but don’t yet have the experience, look at buying a beginner drone. It’s necessary that you purchase a UAV that is easy to learn to operate, before graduating to a more complex model.
5 Of The Best Drones For Beginners
The site used to compile this list include Best Drone For The Job, Parrot, DJI.com, Yuneec, Amazon.com.
Parrot Bebop 2
The Parrot Bebop 2 sells for around $550 and can give its pilot twenty-five minutes of fly time on full charge.
The video boasts 14 megapixels of the quality video made possible by its advanced stabilization system.It has a unique feature that lets its own pilot operate it via smartphone or tablet.
Even though it is very light weight, its material components make it very durable, something every beginner pilot needs. It sells for around $550 and is great value for the price.
Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K
Yuneec’s Q500 is perfect for a beginner pilot. The 4K high definition camera fits snuggly on the bottom of the drone and is capable of taking 30 frames per second with an 115-degree field of view. The controls are very easy to use.
To begin flying the pilot will simply need to push the left stick up, the Q500 will take off and continue to rise in the air until the user takes his finger off the control stick. Once he releases it, the UAV will hover in place.
The control stick is very rudimentary in operation. Press up and the drone flies upward, press down and the drone flies lower to ground, pressing the control left will move it left, and right will move it right.
The drone is also equipped with a state of the art GPS system that can help it maintain the desired position even in windy conditions. The Q500 is fast too. It can reach speeds up to 22 miles per hour, which sounds like fun, but it could be a little risky for an under the experienced pilot.
The pilot can control the speed, however, so it’s crucial that they go slow while first learning. The drone has two modes aimed at user ease. The “Watch Me” mode keeps the camera lens on the pilot at all times no matter which direction it’s flying.
The “Follow Me” mode will keep the drone near to the person holding the control no matter where they walk. Coming in at around $1,000, it’s the most expensive drone on the list, but it’s truly a great value considering all the camera specs and user-friendly innovations. This drone is also the largest to make the list as it weighs approximately four pounds.
The Hubsan X4 is tiny, about the size of an adult human hand with fingers extended. Because of its small size, its owner can practice piloting right in his home.
The camera is built into the front part of the drone and captures .3 megapixel videos. It can fly for about ten minutes before needing to be grounded and recharged. One of the best features is its ability to turn flips by just touching a button on the control.
The Nighthawk DM007 is another great choice for beginners. In the case of a crash, it’s extremely easy to repair.
It only costs around $35 and it can be a lot of fun to fly because of its simple trick capabilities. It’s small enough to fly inside a building and has unique HD video camera.
UDI U818A Discovery
The UDI Discovery is by no means exceptional, but it’s very easy to use and resists crashes caused by gusts of wind.
It sells for around $75 and is ready to try out as soon as it is out of the box; there’s no need for construction. It can only fly for around seven minutes, but it can take some amazing aerial skills while hovering.
It’s recommended that beginner UAV pilots purchase a UAV that is not too costly to start out with. Even pilots with years of experience admit that drone crashes are guaranteed if you pilot often enough.
They are even more likely when the pilot is new to the hobby, so it’s best not to invest in the most expensive models, to begin with. It’s also a good idea to sign up for the insurance that is offered at the time of purchase for an additional cost.