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FAA Grants Michigan State Police Drone Exemption

Source: Detroit Free Press
By: John Wisely

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted Michigan State Police permission to fly a drone anywhere in the state for law enforcement purposes.

The FAA gave the greenlight after a two-day visit to Michigan last month to review the program and safety procedures.

First Lt. Chris Bush, Michigan State Police Commander  of Field Support and Aviation Section, holds an unmanned aerial vehicle that the police force has been training with since 2013 regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration at the Michigan State Police headquarters in Lansing, Mich. on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. The UAV has a infared camera attached for viewing. (Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell)

First Lt. Chris Bush, Michigan State Police Commander of Field Support and Aviation Section, holds an unmanned aerial vehicle that the police force has been training with since 2013 regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration at the Michigan State Police headquarters in Lansing, Mich. on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. The UAV has a infared camera attached for viewing.
(Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell)

“We actually did our first mission last week when we flew over a fire scene in Ottawa County,” said 1st Lt. Chris Bush, commander of field support and aviation for the State Police.

Bush said the pilots used an infrared camera to locate hotspots in the area. It turned into a learning experience for the pilots, who navigated a neighborhood, dodging powerlines and other hazards.

The approval makes the State Police the first in the nation to have a statewide authorization to fly, though there are still restrictions. The drone is prohibited from flying within five miles of an airport for safety reasons, though in emergency, permission could be granted on a case-by-case basis.

In 2013, State Police used a Homeland Security grant to buy its $158,000 Aeryon SkyRanger, an unmanned aerial vehicle, better known as a drone, from Aeryon Labs, a Canadian company that makes them for military, law enforcement and commercial operations.

The drone carries a high-definition camera and can fly for about 50 minutes on a single battery charge and withstand wind gusts of up to 40 m.p.h. It has a range of several miles.

Four state troopers who are certified pilots will operate the vehicle and four other tactical flight officers will observe each flight as required, Bush said.

The green-light means state troopers could use an unmanned aircraft to photograph crash sites, search for lost people, inspect natural disasters and conduct surveillance.

The drone industry is booming worldwide with private citizens purchasing them to photograph crops and real estate, inspect powerlines, even shoot movies.

The FAA has been slow to approve commercial uses for drones but it also has been slow to chase down people who operate them that way.

The increased use of drones has prompted privacy concerns.

“There are legitimate uses but it’s important that we rein in big brother,” said former state Rep. Tom McMillin, who sponsored legislation to regulate police use of drones when he served in the Legislature.

His bill never passed, but he said several current legislators are interested in the topic and he expects someone to introduce similar legislation.

McMillin said current law covers issues like Peeping Toms and trespassing, but new legislation is needed to prevent abuses by police.

“I really wanted to make sure there is reporting on how it’s being used,” McMillin said. “If they are recording things that they shouldn’t, that stuff should be destroyed. We don’t just want them flying around watching people.”

The post FAA Grants Michigan State Police Drone Exemption appeared first on UAV Coach.

Huge Yacht Fire Filmed By A Drone


You have to feel for whoever’s yacht this is, as a boat catching fire is every boat enthusiast’s worst nightmare, but we sure are glad that San Diego captain and drone pilot Kurt Roll was in the area to capture the wild footage in this video. Some pretty gripping stuff right here.

The post Huge Yacht Fire Filmed By A Drone appeared first on UAV Coach.

Harry Ketterer Builds His Own NightHawk Quadcopter

harr ketterer uav pilotOne of the greatest pleasures I have managing this website is communicating with you all, UAV enthusiasts, pilots, and aspiring business owners from all over the world.

I got a great email from Harry Ketterer, who lives in Dryden, Ontario and has been flying RC planes for the last 15 years. Harry recently built his own quadcopter, and I asked him for a short interview to learn more about his build, the UAV community in Dryden and his background as a pilot.

If you have any questions for Harry, comment at the bottom of this post.

Can you tell me a bit about your background flying remote control (RC) planes?

I’ve been flying RC planes for almost 15 years. I recently accepted the post of Secretary Treasurer for our local club this year, Patricia Region Aeromodelers.

As a young boy, I was always interested in flying. I lived one block from a water base, and spent a good portion of my spare time bugging pilots for a ride (to help with the unloading of course….lol). They were always very tolerant of me, so I got to ride quite often…it helped that my Mom and Dad knew the owners. but that is how I got hooked.

My best friend and I as teens had a couple of control-line planes we learned to crash very well…we couldn’t afford RC but we dreamed.

15 or 20 years later, my 10 year old was interested in RC. He had $100 that he had saved that year and wanted to spend it on an RTF Air Hogs with differential steering , so I offered to go in with him on a real RC trainer….if he would put up his $100, I would put in $250 that I had in my rainy day fund, and we would save the rest……we were still $400 short of the $750 I had gotten the local hobby shop owner to agree to for a 40-size trainer a radio…and he also agreed to train both of us to fly.

On my birthday, less than a month after making the agreement with my son, we both had saved a few dollars more each to add to our RC fund.

My wife gave me my birthday present…..it was a card with a check for the remainder of the amount we needed to get our very first RC plane….what an awesome wife. My love for RC planes only grew to the addiction it is today because of that awesome wife. Our Son has moved on, he is in his last year of university now, hopefully his interest in RC planes will return when he has the time and money.

What kind of aviation / RC community are you part of in Dryden?

The community of Dryden is a small (8500 people) hub in the middle of Northwestern Ontario, two hours from the Manitoba border. We have several waterbases and an airport that is long enough to land a 737, but we have lost our jet service for lack of traffic. The airport has the CL415 water bombers stationed here at the firebase so we see them quite often in the summer. Several of our club members are full size pilots also.

Why’d you decide to build a drone?

I decided to build a drone after buying a Proto X Nano a couple of years ago, and I flew it until I wore it out, then I thought I needed something bigger but I didn’t want the auto type flying of the DJI Phantom or the other ready to fly machines……then I found a video about drone racing….that was it!!!!  I knew what I wanted! A 250 FPV DRONE RACER!!!!!!.  The price at the time ( 2 yrs ago) was nearly $1000 for racer and FPV gear.  That was out of my price range. A couple of our club members have drones, 1 DJI Phantom and the other is a 450 size that was scratch built 3 yrs ago. So I got 1 of them interested in the racing drones. That was in the fall.

Last Christmas, our family got each other to write out a wish list of things you like but wouldn’t buy yourself. One of the items I had on my list was FPV goggles…again my awesome wife advances my RC addiction (I think she’s an enabler).. so I sold a bunch of glow motors and other gear I wasn’t using any more and generated enough funds to shop for a drone racer.

What resources did you consult? How’d you know what parts to buy?

A couple of the greatest forums I have found are RCCanada and RCGroups, there is a huge community involved in both and all are more than willing to help. YouTube was also instrumental in showing me how things should be.  I researched reviews and articles about 250 racers. I read and read and read and read…then I asked questions, watched videos and read and read more.

Deciding which frame, motors, esc, etc. …. one prerequisite was, I wanted to be able to use the 3 cell 2200mah lipos that I had already. It had to be durable as I will be crashing it lots while .  It had to be as affordable as possible…this was probably what made me pull the trigger…when I priced everything again (had been almost 2 years since I priced it last) there was many alternatives at half the price I had seen before.

How much did it cost?

I thought the most durable frame would be carbon fiber. The most affordable carbon fiber frame I could find was the Emax 250 Pro NightHawk. Because I wanted to use the 2200mah batteries I chose the beefier motor setup 2204 2300kv emax , 12a esc simon K. I found a combo on eBay with the frame, motors, and esc’s and 2 sets of carbon fiber 6

FAA Grants Amazon Permission To Test Drone Deliveries

Source: TechCrunch
By: Matt Burns

The FAA just released a statement indicating that Amazon now has limited permission to test and develop drones in the United States. It’s not a blank check, though. The FAA gave Amazon strict rules and regulations.

amazon prime air

Amazon announced its drone ambitions in October 2013 and has since been grounded by the FAA. The federal agency was not as enthusiastic about Amazon’s plans, forcing the company to test its projects overseas. Since then, Amazon has been building and developing its drone project at Cambridge.

Today’s news could bring the operation back to the states.

To use the drones stateside, Amazon must abide to several rules including keeping the drone under 400 feet and during daylight hours. The operator also must have a pilot’s and medical certification and most notably, keep the drone within sight at all times.

The FAA is also requiring Amazon to provide monthly data logs of flights and operators.

The drone industry is finally getting off the ground in the U.S. The FAA is finally responding to calls for action. Just last month the FAA finally published a basic set of rules and regulations relating to using drones for commercial purposes. But it took the FCC years to get to this point. The technology is simply outpacing regulation and the government agency is struggling to keep up.

TechCrunch has reached out to Amazon for comment.

The post FAA Grants Amazon Permission To Test Drone Deliveries appeared first on UAV Coach.

Inside The World’s First Billion Dollar Consumer Drone Company

Source: The Verge
By: Ben Popper

DJI is about to become the first billion dollar consumer drone company The company did around $500 million in sales during 2014 and is on pace to double that this year

Over the last two years DJI has emerged as the world’s most popular consumer drone maker, at least by revenue. And The Verge has learned that the company is currently in talks with Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms to potentially raise a new round of funding. Sources familiar with the negotiations say DJI reported around $500 million in revenue for 2014, roughly four times what it did in 2013, and is on pace to do about $1 billion in sales this year. The potential valuation of the company would be a healthy multiple of that, several billion dollars, although no deal has yet been finalized.

The company helped bring small, powerful drones to the masses with its Phantom line of quadcopters, our favorite unit during last year’s testing. In doing so, the Shenzhen based firm became one of the first Chinese companies to help forge a new category of consumer electronics at global scale. The Phantom was simple enough for beginners, but powerful enough to interest serious hobbyists, professional photographers, and filmmakers. Last year we dubbed it “the kleenex of drones,” and that ubiquity has become a very big business.

With over 2,800 employees, DJI now has offices in Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Rotterdam, Tokyo, and Kobe. It sells several different variations of its Phantom drone, as well as its higher-end “prosumer” unit, the Inspire One, and its much larger S-class units. It also has a popular line of gimbals used for stabilizing cameras during flight, and has translated that technology into a handheld camera stabilizer, the Ronin, used by film and TV professionals.

drone funding

CBI Insights found drone funding was up 104 percent between 2013 and 2014.

The company was founded in 2006 by Frank Wang, then a student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Originally DJI was centered on building flight control systems for model helicopters, which Wang had loved since childhood. But as multi-rotor drones began to gain popularity, Wang deftly turned the company toward that market.

Before the Phantom, most highly capable consumer drones were sold to serious hobbyists and required a lot of assembly and know-how. The French company, Parrot, had a simple, popular unit with its A.R. Drone, but that was not a very powerful craft. The Phantom represented the first relatively cheap drone that came ready to fly out of the box, but boasted top of the line flight control systems. They also had a potent pitchman in Colin Guinn, who we met for the first time at SXSW in 2012. North America represents DJI’s biggest market.

Mr. Guinn has since left for rival drone maker 3D Robotics, which two weeks ago announced a $50 million round of funding led by Qualcomm. And Parrot recently released its own more powerful quadcopter, the Bebop, taking direct aim at DJI’s Phantom line. Up until now, DJI had taken on relatively little outside capital, preferring to bootstrap the business. But as competition heats up, it is considering taking on venture capital to help maintain its lead and potentially branch out into new sectors of the booming drone market.

The post Inside The World’s First Billion Dollar Consumer Drone Company appeared first on UAV Coach.

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