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Newly Opened Drone Center of Excellence in Las Vegas, NV Offers Public Workshops on Drone Safety

The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) recently launched the Nevada Drone Center of Excellence for Public Safety (NDCOE) as a facility for drone research and education. The NDCOE staff will focus on mitigating the risk caused by drone incursions into the commercial air traffic space.

NIAS launces Nevada Drone Center of ExcellenceSource: NAIS

Nevada is Ranked #2 in UAS

The recent Business Facilities’ 14th Annual Rankings: State Rankings Report survey ranked Nevada second (behind first place New York) among all US states and territories for Drone Leaders.

The state rankings report considered research and other development activities. Nevada’s position is viewed as well-deserved based on the advanced contributions from the Nevada state government and NIAS, including the recent launch of the Drone Center of Excellence. Additionally, Nevada is the only statewide test site for the FAA national effort to improve drone safety and establish an operational framework for commercial drone services.

Nevada, through the NIAS, played a significant role in the pioneering use of drones and is well positioned, thanks to several international cooperative agreements, to continue the integration of this technology into our airspace, economy, and daily lives.

—Brian Sandoval, Governor of Nevada

Drone Incursions on the Rise in Nevada

Over the last decade, UAS, more commonly referred to as drones, have experienced an unprecedented boom within aviation. Coinciding with the increase in popularity, incidents involving drones in tourist areas, as well as risks to larger manned aircraft are on the rise and present high-liability risks to property owners.

In February 2018, a YouTube video went viral showing a drone illegally flying above a landing passenger jet at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. The FAA stated that they were aware of the incident and investigating.

Data from the FAA also raises concern about drones in unauthorized airspace. From January to June 2018, there were 31 reports of unauthorized UAS sightings from pilots, citizens, and law enforcement in Nevada alone. Operating drones around airplanes, helicopters, and airports is dangerous and illegal.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and NIAS conducted a statewide survey, in which almost 80% of respondents were concerned about a recreational drone hitting an airline and causing an airline disaster and almost 90% were concerned about aerial drones illegally penetrating FAA airspace without authorization at outdoor events such as sport stadiums, concerts, or at large public gathering events. The results of this survey and the increase in unauthorized drone sightings solidified the public’s support for NIAS to launch the NDCOE, the first center of its kind in the U.S. The NDCOE hopes to educate the public on responsible drone use.

NDCOE Aims to Decrease Drone Incursions with Public Education

The NDCOE’s mission is to save lives and reduce air hazards from drone incursions by empowering a shared safety vision. They’ve partnered with federal agencies like the FAA and private-sector businesses like Switch to accomplish this mission, but most importantly they are involving the public as well.

NDCOE will provide safety incursion research data, drone technology best practices, and educational materials to promote and protect the public’s safety and privacy. This information sharing and education will occur primarily through public workshops. NDCOE hopes to conduct these workshops in an open and ethical manner that will inspire the public to join the NIAS public safety movement.

We are taking an aggressive approach toward solving the complex UAS Industry challenge of mitigating drone incursions into the National Airspace System (NAS)—one of the toughest FAA challenges today. What we are doing in Nevada will be of immense value to the DOT, FAA, DHS, DOJ, commercial airlines, visitor venues, and the UAS Industry.

—Dr. Chris Walach, Senior Director, NIAS and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site

Safe and successful UAS operations rely on quality training, end user education, and maximizing public safety processes. To protect and educate residents and visitors, this center seeks to protect against drone users who pose a public safety hazard due to inexperience and/or malicious drone operations—for example, drones hitting people or that have the potential to cause an airline disaster, and who violate your safety and/or privacy. The NDCOE also strives to inform the public of Nevada drone laws near high traffic public places, at airports, near military bases, and critical infrastructure.

In this video Dr. Chris Walach, Senior Director, NIAS discusses the purpose and goals of NDCOE.

NDCOE will also advance Drone Surveillance, Detect, and Avoid (remote sensing), wildland firefighting, gas-leak detection, and time-sensitive medical delivery technologies for life-saving medical equipment and organs. To learn more about the NDCOE, visit the NIAS website. You can also join our community discussion about the center on our forum for drone pilots.

The post Newly Opened Drone Center of Excellence in Las Vegas, NV Offers Public Workshops on Drone Safety appeared first on UAV Coach.

Regular BVLOS Operations Begin for Xcel Energy

Last week Xcel Energy made a historic BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drone flight.

On Wednesday, September 12 Xcel Energy, the largest utility company in Colorado, became the first U.S. utility to begin flying drones BVLOS as a regular part of ongoing inspections for power lines and other infrastructure.


Local, state, and federal officials were in attendance for the first BVLOS flights, which took place in a demonstration near the Fort St. Vrain Generating Station in Platteville, Colorado. The flights were conducted using a 35 pound drone equipped with two cameras.

The drone will be used to collect data on the condition of transmission towers and power lines along a 50 mile route. To conduct these BVLOS flights, Xcel Energy has worked in partnership with several industry leaders, including Harris Corporation, Northern Plains UAS Test Site, Phoenix Air UNMANNED, LLC, and Altus Intelligence.

Today’s flight takes us a step closer to fully integrating unmanned aircraft into our operations. This innovative technology is revolutionizing our work by improving the safety, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of maintaining and protecting the grid for our customers.

– Ben Fowke, CEO of Xcel Energy

For several years now, Xcel Energy has been working closely with the FAA to create operational and safety requirements for using drones in utility inspections.

In January of this year, Xcel Energy signed a Safety Partnership Program with the FAA to operate drones for powerline inspections within sight of operators. Four months later, in April, Xcel Energy was granted permission to fly BVLOS by the FAA.

Last week’s BVLOS flights were the first conducted since that permission was granted. For now, Xcel Energy is allowed to fly BVLOS regularly in an area about 20 miles north of Denver International Airport. Eventually, Xcel Energy has plans to expand their BVLOS operations into the other states where they operate, which include Texas, New Mexico, and Michigan.

BVLOS Waivers Picking Up Steam

The first company to receive permission for BVLOS flights from the FAA was the BNSF Railway Company back in August of 2016. This permission was granted through their membership in the FAA’s Pathfinder Program, which was formed to explore various types of flying that are currently prohibited by the Part 107 regulations, such as flights over people and beyond visual line of sight.

Since BNSF received the first BVLOS waiver in 2016, 21 more BVLOS waivers have been issued by the FAA (you can see the full list of companies granted BVLOS waivers by going to this page on the FAA’s site and typing “107.31” into the search bar).

Of all of those waivers, almost half—or 10 out of 22, to be precise—were issued this year, which is a good indicator of the progress being made on the regulatory front within the drone industry.


A Big Step Forward

Since drones first started being used for commercial applications, BVLOS has always been one of the drone industry’s main hurdles in expanding commercial drone operations across various sectors. Delivery, inspections, surveying—all of these operations would greatly benefit from BVLOS (and some of them, such as deliveries, are almost impossible without BVLOS).

Xcel Energy’s new BVLOS inspections are a significant step forward in bringing BVLOS operations to the entire drone industry, and mark an important moment in the development of drones for commercial use.

Excited about this expansion of BVLOS flights, or have something to say about BVLOS in general? Hop into this thread on the UAV Coach Community Forum to share your thoughts.

The post Regular BVLOS Operations Begin for Xcel Energy appeared first on UAV Coach.

Will Hydrogen Fuel the Drones of the Future? | 7 Benefits of Hydrogen Over LiPo Drones

This week, a new, hydrogen-fueled drone arrived on the commercial drone market, Narwhal 2—an upgraded hydrogen quadcopter with LTE module and 30 km video transmission range.

Narwhal 2 was designed by BSHARK in partnership with MicroMultiCopter (MMC)—manufacturer of the first hydrogen-powered drone, HyDrone 1550.

Narwhal 2

Narwhal 2 is a hydrogen-powered quadcopter equipped with air cooled fuel cell technology.


What is a Hydrogen Fuel Cell?

A hydrogen fuel cell converts chemical energy stored by hydrogen fuel into electricity. Hydrogen on its own is not a source of energy. It must be kept in a suitable container until it is ready to be used in a fuel cell to produce electricity. When hydrogen is combined with oxygen within the fuel cell, and the byproduct water is removed, the fuel cell can generate electricity.

Similar to a battery, a fuel cell can be used to power devices that use electricity, like drones. However, there are some significant differences between batteries and fuel cells, which we’ll discuss below.

LiPo Batteries Power Most RC Aircraft and Drones

The majority of commercial drones on today’s market are powered by lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries. LiPo batteries have a very high energy density compared to other types of batteries, such as nickel cadmium (NiCad) or nickel–metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. A higher density means that a LiPo battery can hold more energy compared to another battery of the same weight, allowing you to power your drone longer with a battery that weighs less. They’re also rechargable, to power multiple flights.

LiPo batteries have been the dominant power source for remote control aircraft and drones for many years, going back to the 1980s. The first hydrogen-fueled drone didn’t enter the market until very recently when MMC launched its first, groundbreaking hydrogen-fueled drone on April 10, 2016.

MCC HyDrone 1800

At the launch of MMC’s first hydrogen fueled drone on April 10, 2016 in Shenzhen, China.


Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance on Earth. If there’s so much hydrogen floating around, why did it take so long for a hydrogen-fueled drone to enter the market? Well, there’s a catch—hydrogen is very difficult to harness—it must be separated from other elements, pressurized, and stored in stable environment, or otherwise explode. Another caveat with hydrogen fuel cells is that they involve a significant amount of heat. Considering that plastic is a dominant component of most drones, the generation of heat could melt some of the drone hardware.

Despite these drawbacks, MCC and BSHARK have still found ways to build hydrogen-fueled drones that consumers want to fly. In the eyes of these manufacturers, the benefits far outweigh the cons when it comes to hydrogen fuel cell power systems.

The 7 Benefits of Fueling Drones with Hydrogen

1. Hydrogen is a clean energy source.

Hydrogen is a colorless, odorless, and nontoxic gas that won’t produce acid rain, deplete the ozone, or produce harmful emissions. When converted to energy, it only has has one byproduct: water. This makes hydrogen an incredibly clean fuel source. Plus, hydrogen can produce electricity and electricity can produce hydrogen, creating an energy loop that is renewable and harmless to the environment.

2. Hydrogen is the most abundant resource on Earth.

Hydrogen is the most abundant resource on Earth and throughout the entire Universe. Think you might fly a drone on Mars one day? Even on Mars, hydrogen is still the most abundant resource.

3. Hydrogen fuel cells have a higher energy density over batteries.

Fuel cells use air for half of their reaction when converted to energy, producing a higher energy density over other batteries. This means a hydrogen tank attached to a drone will generate more energy than a LiPo battery of the same weight.

4. Hydrogen fuel cells enable longer flight times.

Due in part to benefit #3, hydrogen-fueled drones fly longer than LiPo powered drones. In addition to the high energy density of hydrogen, it’s unique method of creating and releasing energy impacts flight time a well. Regular batteries store energy and release it on demand, while hydrogen fuel cells produce energy only as required. This unique behavior has enabled hydrogen-fueled drones to fly for up to two and a half hours in the case of MCC’s HyDrone 1550 and up to two hours with BSHARK’s new Narwhal 2. Most LiPo powered drones have a maximum flight time of 25-30 minutes, but there are a few ways you can extend the life of your sUAS LiPo battery.

5. Hydrogen fuel cells refuel quickly.

In the past, Hydrogen fuel has not been readily accessible by the public, and it’s still difficult to find. However, BSHARK has just made Orca1, a mobile hydrogen fueling station with 99.999% output purity of hydrogen, available for hydrogen fueling at home. When compared to the time it takes to recharge a LiPo battery, a hydrogen fuel cell can be refueled much faster within just a few minutes.

6. Hydrogen-fueled drones function in low temperatures.

Hydrogen fuel cells require the constant presence of oxygen, but are not affected by low temperatures. This expands the use of drones into northern and southern latitudes. The ability to function in low temperatures will open up new applications for drones.

7. BVLOS flights are more attainable with hydrogen-fueled drones.

Since hydrogen-fueled drones have longer-flight times and can operate in lower temperatures, they’re more reliable for beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights. However changes in regulation around BVLOS flights will need to occur first, before we reap the full benefits of hydrogen-fueled drones.

BSHARK’s Narwhal 2

One of the latest drones to take advantage of the benefits of hydrogen is the Narwhal 2. Based on aerial aluminum, the frame of Narwhal 2 is rain, dust, and fireproof. As a drone fueled by hydrogen, Narwhal 2’s core components must be absolutely reliable. Take a look at some other standout features of Narwhal 2:

  • 120 min flight time
  • Foldable design
  • 5 flight modes
  • 2.4/5.8GHz dual fallback channel, wireless video transmission
  • 30 KM video transmission control range
  • Compact all-in-one remote control station
YouTube Video

Who Else is Using Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is already being used by other transportation manufacturers. NASA uses hydrogen to power spaceships. Big-box car companies like Toyota and Mercedes already have hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles on the market. UPS began testing its own hydrogen delivery trucks in 2017 and added over 700 alternative-fuel trucks to its fleet in 2018.

Will hydrogen become the next dominant energy source? It’s possible, but until hydrogen becomes easier to harness, and more accessible to the public, drones will continue to be powered predominantly by LiPo batteries. Perhaps BSHARK’s latest launch of the Narwhal 2 will propel the hydrogen-fueled drones onto the commercial drone market.

The post Will Hydrogen Fuel the Drones of the Future? | 7 Benefits of Hydrogen Over LiPo Drones appeared first on UAV Coach.

DJI Maintains 74% of Market Share | Three Key Insights from the Skylogic 2018 Drone Market Report

Skylogic Research has just released the results of their third annual drone industry benchmark survey in it’s newest report, the “2018 Drone Market Sector Report.”

2018 Skylogic Drone Industry ReportImage Credit: Skylogic Research

The 2018 Drone Market Sector Report examines worldwide drone sales, service providers, business and public agency users, and software services. The research is the result of a three-month project sponsored in part by DJI, DroneDeploy, DroneInsurance.com, and Trimble, and it finds a growing demand for businesses to use drone-acquired data in their day-to-day operations as well as fresh insights on major drone industry segments.

The online survey portion of the research garnered over 2,500 respondents representing more than 60 industries worldwide. Many members of our own UAV Coach community participated in the study by filling out the Skylogic survey we wrote about a while back.

No single industry / sector dominated the survey, although those in the photography / video / cinematography industries contributed the largest number of respondents (13%).

Industry/Sector of Respondents

Industry Sector of Respondents

Three Key Insights from the 2018 Skylogic Report

The report yields 10 key insights that summarize the current state of the industry, plus detailed analyses of drone adoption by businesses and enterprises.

Among the many insights in the report, three are especially worth highlighting:

  • Fleet sizes are small, and the number of commercial drone flights is lower than most think. Despite the hyperbole that hundreds of thousands of drones are in the airspace at the same time, the survey finds that the average commercial user has just two drones. Most perform only two projects per month, and most of those operations involve less than three flight hours.
  • The commercial market is slowly shifting to more expensive drone aircraft. One-third of purchases in the last 12 months were for aircraft costing over $2,000. That’s up from last year.
  • As expected, DJI continues to dominate the market, with a 74% global market share in sales across all price points. DJI has made gains this year in every category from drone aircraft at all price ranges, to add-on payloads, to software.

According to Colin Snow, CEO and founder of Skylogic Research, one of the more interesting findings is that commercial drone fleet sizes are smaller than most people think, debunking the myth of hundreds of thousands of drones cluttering the airspace.

Fleet Size (Service Providers)

Fleet Size (Drone Service Providers)
To gain access to all 10 key insights, purchase the report here. Catch up on the three key insights from last year’s 2017 report here.

Skylogic’s In-depth Report is Packed With Insights, Analysis, and Graphics

The 107-page report is comprehensive, featuring more than 60 helpful figures and tables and offering insight and analysis on:

  • Who’s buying what types of drones from which makers at what prices and for what uses.
  • How large the drone-based service providers are, and how they position themselves to their target industries.
  • Who the business users of drone-based projects are, and which industries have traction.
  • How much service providers, business users, and public agencies are using flight management, mission planning, and image processing software for drone-based projects.

The report provides the first comprehensive view of:

  • Critical industry drivers
  • Vendor and service provider market shares
  • Business adoption trends and issues

You can find out more about the report and how to get it here: http://bit.ly/2Oay8qI. After you’ve taken a look at the report, head over to our community forum to hear what drone pilots are saying about the report’s findings, and share your own takeaways from the report.

The post DJI Maintains 74% of Market Share | Three Key Insights from the Skylogic 2018 Drone Market Report appeared first on UAV Coach.

Women and Drones Announces 2018 List of Women to Watch in UAS

Last week at the Women and Drones luncheon at InterDrone, Women and Drones announced their list of Women to Watch in UAS for 2018.


This is the second year that Women and Drones has selected a list of women to recognize and honor for being leaders in the drone industry.

Last year Women and Drones received an impressive 110 nominations for their 2017 list. This year that number more than doubled, with 288 nominations being made from seven different countries.

Out of those 288 nominations Women and Drones paired the group down to twenty semi-finalists. Semi-finalists were asked to submit additional materials to help in identifying the final list of 10 women, including information about each candidate’s work and goals. The final selections for the 2018 list were made by the Women and Drones judging panel.

Women and Drones listed the following criteria as qualities that were reviewed for making final decisions on who to include in the 2018 list of Women to Watch:

Dedicated to delivering innovations and solutions that create value for others in the industry.
Distinguish themselves by leading people and companies, and investing time and money to enable drone technology to benefit the world.
Positively shape the public perception of drones.
Advocate for and empower more women to enter the industry and pursue high-level roles.

The categories for the list this year have been expanded and changed from last year, and now include categories such as Search & Rescue, Product Development and Airspace Integration—read on to see all 10 categories in which women were recognized for the 2018 list.

Our 2018 Women To Watch In UAS list identified an outstanding assembly of diverse thought leaders from across the globe. The Women To Watch initiative emphasizes the integral role of women as major contributors within the drone industry. The ten women on our 2018 list represent the thousands of women who are helping shape the future of the UAS ecosystem.

– Sharon Rossmark, Found and CEO of Women and Drones

[Read our interview with Sharon Rossmark]

Here is the list of Women to Watch in UAS for 2018:



The agriculture industry I work in has undergone monumental change since I began, being able to adapt has been vital.



Business / Website


Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

A seasoned photographer, Lake discovered drones as an ideal way to view the massive cattle ranches of Australia. Her images were recently featured in the Whispering Grass exhibit at the Australian embassy in Washington D.C. Lake also established the Rural Drone Academy where she shares her UAS expertise with other farmers.


I hope to make a positive impact on the implementation of the regulations and service delivery to industry.


South Africa

Business / Website

Ntsu Aviation Solutions (Pty) Ltd.

Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

McErlean is a manned aircraft pilot, dedicated to helping the South African Aviation Authority integrate unmanned aircraft systems. She is leading efforts to define standard procedure for drone operation in controlled airspace, beyond visual line of sight and night operations, contributing to the advancement of the drone industry in South Africa.


Data from a different perspective, from above, could potentially be the next societal change.



Business / Website

DHJ Alaska

Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

With a PhD and decades as an Airport Operations and Planning manager, Hasper is working to incorporate drones into complex U.S. airspace. Her efforts include development of a 3D mapping application that will demonstrate where UAS operations are taking place, a big step in the direction toward safe and secure skies for the future.

CONSERVATION—Jackie Dujmovic

Being a part of an emerging market such as the UAS Industry provides a profound sense of belonging.



Business / Website

Hover UAV

Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

This founder and CEO of Hover UAV is an innovator in the field of drone-based shark surveillance, as well as integral part of the Australian government’s shark management research program. Dujmovic’s design for a shark alarm as well as cutting edge drone imagery make her a champion of UAS use in conservation.


I have the opportunity to not just advance a new industry, but also to advance equality for women and others.



Business / Website

Drone Parks Worldwide

Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

Ferrone is Co-Founder and COO of Drone Parks Worldwide, a planned indoor facility where a newcomer to the drone hobby can enjoy supervised flight after walking in the door. By eliminating cost and equipment barriers with the benefit of safe and legal surroundings, Ferrone’s vision will bring drone education and entertainment to the masses.


Simply the UAS industry is fun, unchartered territory where we need to solve problems that haven’t been solved before.



Business / Website

Reign Maker

Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

Advancing urban infrastructure with UAS and robotic technology is Chosid’s driving force. She is founder and CEO of Reign Maker, a drone data and information firm that supports the engineering, telecom and utility sector. Chosid’s company is the first to collect structural data via UAS on a bridge in New York City.

JOURNALISM—Gail Orenstein

The ability to transition from still photography to drone technology has enabled me to capture photos that were never within reach.


United Kingdom

Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

During her 25-year photojournalism career Orenstein has been reporting stories from places such as Iraq, Bangladesh and Nepal, often at great risk. Adding UAS to her skill set has taken storytelling to a new level, literally, as her drone images provide the world with a new perspective on human suffering.


The fast-paced evolution of UAVs is what excites me the most. It is both surprising and overwhelming.



Business / Website


Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

Baid leads product management and strategic operations for software platform Kittyhawk. Her focus on safety, compliance and maintenance along with a compelling vision for how UAV operations need to be managed at scale, makes her a trail blazer in the drone industry.


I see I can fill a market gap in aviation and civil security using a novel technique of using data and empowering people.


Estonia & Australia

Business / Website


Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

Tapsall‘s experience in the spatial science industry was the impetus behind DroneALERT. DroneALERT is her rapid drone reporting application that can be completed using a mobile device. Law enforcement can then use the photos, videos and geo-locations to track down unsafe UAS activity.


This industry allows me to merge my three greatest passions: lifesaving, aviation and technology.


United Kingdom

Business / Website

SkyBound Rescuer

Why A Woman to Watch in UAS?

As the founder of SkyBound Rescuer, Alcock is helping shape the future of UAS use in emergency response. Her company is involved in drone research, consulting and training with the goal of introducing this new high-tech tool to those in the business of saving lives.

Want to connect with others interested in this list of leaders from Women and Drones? Hop into this post on the UAV Coach community forum to join the discussion.

The post Women and Drones Announces 2018 List of Women to Watch in UAS appeared first on UAV Coach.

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