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Skyward Raises $1.5 Million for First Commercial Drone Management Platform

One company is looking to create one single digital platform to connect commercial operators of robotic aircraft (read: drones).

Skyward, is working to create a a software system that would handle issues such as record keeping, risk management, and regulatory compliance, freeing up businesses to focus on flying.

To further their efforts, SkyWard reports they have secured $1.5 million in seed-round financing to make their vision a reality. Voyager Capital heads the round with Draper Associates and individuals like Toivo Annus (Skype founder) also participating.

SkyWard CEO Jonathan Evens says that their platform will allow operators to control operations safely while complying with governing regulations.

Photo: SkyWard CEO Jonathan Evans (PRNewsFoto/SkyWard) – See more at: http://www.uasvision.com/2014/07/29/skyward-secures-1-5-million-to-deliver-the-first-commercial-drone-management-platform/#sthash.9MeC8c4f.dpuf

Image of SkyWard CEO Jonathan Evans (credit: PRNewsFoto/SkyWard)

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In the Philippines, Drones Must Be Registered, Pilots Licensed

While the faction of drone hobbyists in the United States await guidelines and rules surrounding use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Philippines has taken action, issuing new regulations.

On Thursday, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) mandated that drone owners must register their UAVs and their pilots must be licensed.

The CAAP will be the agency that will issue licenses to operate and violators will be fined. The agency has broken drones into three classifications that are determined by size and weight: large, micro, and small.

Registration costs will vary based on the size of the UAV.

Image courtesy of inquirer.net

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5 Reasons Drones are the Future of Arctic Research

This is part of the series “Drones are the Future” – a collection of posts outlining the positive impact UAVs will have on our world in the not-so-distant future.

Arctic Research Drones

In the case of the Arctic Circle, the future is already here. The drones have already arrived, and more are coming.

Thanks to their low cost, ability to fly in virtually any weather condition, and the fact they can be launched from land, boat, or aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have begun to provide valuable service to environmental agencies and researchers. But that, as they say, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are five ways that drones will impact Arctic research in the not-so-distant future:

1) Monitor Wildlife

In the past, biologists working to study migrations and habits of Arctic animal species have had to spend great amounts of time in harsh climates and remote locations to conduct their research. Drones can do much of this work for them, eliminating a great deal of risk and time.

Scientists will use drones to study the populations of walrus and polar bear in the region. Theycan map the breeding grounds of sea lions and monitor the migration patterns of whales. Officials will use UAVs to survey rich fisheries in hard to reach places.

Image recognition software will change the way wildlife is monitored. An unmanned vehicle can be launched from a ship, collect thousands of images, and have them analyzed in a matter of hours.

UAVs are smaller and quieter, and much less intrusive to the resident wildlife population than noisy helicopters or planes that must swoop low to gather data.

2) Research Climate Change

The Arctic has been called the “canary in the mine” of climate change. The remoteness of the area has traditionally made the collection of basic meteorological information challenging. Arctic research drones of tomorrow will obtain environmental data on temperature, pressure, humidity and wind.

UAVs have already been deployed to were deployed to the polar regions to study the melting of the ice. For example, glaciers in Greenland are photographed by an unmanned vehicles on a remote control. Ground mapping.

Arctic vegetation is expected to change drastically in the next hundred years thanks to increasing temperatures. Drones will be used to monitor the change by taking high resolution aerial photos and covering hundreds of thousands of square miles efficiently.

3) Bolster our Energy Supply

The U.S. Department of Energy believes the Arctic could contain 22% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves. That’s the equivalent of billions of barrels of petroleum and natural gas equivalent.

Exploration in the Arctic is tremendously challenging. With scarce daylight for a good part of the year, treacherous and fast-changing weather conditions, and vast seas covered by ice and floes, both land and air surveying of the area is dangerous, expensive, and inefficient.

Drones can provide aerial ground mapping. They can inspect oil pipelines for damage or needed maintenance. By watching wildlife monitoring via UAV data, oil companies may reduce their environmental footprint when planning to drill for oil or lay pipe.

When eco-disaster strikes, drones can be quick to the scene of an oil spill, spotting affected birds or mammals and assessing shoreline damage, thus speeding up containment and cleanup efforts.

4) Identify Safe, Ice-Free Shipping Lanes

Sea ice is unpredictable and ever-changing. In the ice-covered waters of the Arctic, navigating the ice in front of them is a full-time job for ship captains. Choosing the wrong path can waste fuel, slow down delivery times and be dangerous if the ship receives damage or gets trapped in the ice.

Typically ship captains rely on satellite images to give a large view of the area in front of a ship. Drones of the future, however, will give clearer (and closer) imagery to provide realtime pictures of what lies ahead, helping navigators to plot the safest and fastest course. Meager investments in drone technology could lead to healthy savings in time, fuel usage and ship repairs.

 

5) Protect and Save Human Life

Given inhospitable and unpredictable weather, drones are sometimes the only way to conduct search and rescue operations in the Arctic without putting more lives at risk. In cold temperatures, time is of the essence, and drones can obtain data quickly and cost-effectively.

In addition, UAVs have been used to scout for creatures that humans working a construction job would not like to run into while on the job. Polar bear sightings are great from afar, but when you’re on a fuel resupply mission, it’s not ideal to get up close with the natural predator.

Conclusion

While hobbyists, entrepreneurs and the FAA wrangle about drone use in more populated areas, the Arctic has virtually no people and plenty of jobs to do. For this reason, officials are quicker to grant permission to use drones for commercial and research purposes. Arctic research drones will bring much needed data, at a very low cost, in the world’s least human-friendly climates.

Additional Resources and Information

Image via flickr.com

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