Jun 16

Introducing 360 Virtual Drone Services

By admin | Startups

360 Virtual Drone Services is an eastern North Carolina aerial imaging company that offers multiple drone services including: roof Inspections, aerial photography and video, aerial mapping, panorama videos, search and rescue (charitable), and 3D mapping.

May 29

Drone Artificial Intelligence To Prevent Collisions

By admin | Uncategorized

Artificial intelligence is a subject that has interested many scientists and everyday folks alike, movies have long showed this technology being used for various uses. Now two Vancouver-based entrepreneurs are bringing artificial intelligence into the world of drones to prevent them from mid-air collisions.

  • 26-Aug-16
  • Staff

The project deal with industrial drones and is aimed to help the UAVs avoid collisions with other drones, planes or bird hits. Without a technology in place to prevent collisions drones could be prone to higher risks.

The need for industrial drones for mining exploration, pipeline inspection, agricultural surveying, forestry, or even package delivery, has created the need for this technology.

“We are building collision avoidance for industrial drones,” said Alexander Harmsen, CEO and co-founder of Iris Automation said. His company’s artificial intelligence computer blends real-time images and 3D maps to track incoming objects.

“That’s when it hijacks the auto pilot on board and spears it out of the way, or tells it to go for an emergency landing,” Harmsen said.

Iris Automation was started by Harmsen, who graduated from UBC last spring, along with his graduate James Howard. The team also won a spot at seed accelerator Y Combinator.

The artificial intelligence industry itself is now surging ahead as the need for the services are growing. Iris Automation is only one of several companies which are working on similar technology.

As the drone market expands into various sectors, other services related to drones too are required to keep up with the pace of the expanding sector. Analysts have predicted the UAV market to reach $127 billion.

One of the main challenges the drone industry is now facing are the mid air collisions, it is essential to prove to regulators that the drones are safe for use and tested.

“Some people call it the ‘holy grail’ of the UAV world,” Paul Di Benedetto, chief technology officer of Drone Delivery Canada said. His company plans to begin automated door-to-door deliveries by 2018.

Regulations in the emerging drone industry are constantly changing, hence companies are just looking to create the best possible solutions and later deal with the regulations.

Drone Delivery Canada is now testing drones and establishing new customers as the new regulations come into effect. Right now Transport Canada only allows UAV flights within line of sight, thus making sure the drone operator can see the drone and ensure it will not collide with another flying object.However once new regulations come into place and drones are allowed to fly out of sight it is essential to ensure they don’t cause collisions and maintain safety. This is where artificial intelligence is necessary.

“The UAV has to be able to interact and react to what’s going on out there,” Paul Di Benedetto, Drone Delivery Canada

“The UAV has to be able to interact and react to what’s going on out there,” Di Benedetto recently told a major network.

Regulators across the world have been debating drone rules as the regulations for traditional aircrafts cannot govern them, yet they cannot be left un-governed either. New regulations from Transport Canada are expected in late 2017, but experts still feel it would not include permission for drones to fly out of sight.

Canadian drone experts and users feel the country is still lagging behind as some countries like Japan have drones delivering orders made online of various things including prescription drugs and bottles of liquor.

Close here, the Federal Aviation Authority in the U.S. brought out a set of regulations dealing with commercial drones recently.

Companies that have been chosen as part of U.S. Pathfinder program meant to test commercial drone technology are allowed to fly out of sight. Those companies however don’t use artificial intelligence to prevent collisions.

They employ a combination of geofencing, which is a digital wall that blocks drones from designated airspace, and tapping into an existing aviation network to receive information on the drone’s flight and whether another aircraft is approaching its airspace.

However that solution may not work for everyone and could provide to be expensive and impractical, experts say, adding that artificial intelligence is just one of the solutions to the problem of mid air collisions.

Let us wait and see what drone technology makers have in store for us next.

May 29

New US FAA Drone Rules Should Lift TV Stations

By admin | Uncategorized

Drone Usage by TV Stations Will Increase Thanks to New U.S. Federal Drone Regulations

  • 6-Aug-16
  • Staff

Have you wondered why more T.V stations are not using drones in their coverage? The reasons were mostly regulatory issues that governed the commercial usage of drones. The only T.V station in Indianapolis using a drone was WISH-TV Channel 8 and even they only used the device sparingly. However, new and improved federal rules could mean things can change soon.

You will soon see footage which was shot using drones on various channels. Television industry experts are counting on the new rules to increase the usage of drones in news reporting. The regulations which will come into effect from August 29, say that commercial drone operations no longer need pilot’s licenses.

This opens up the drone space for various drone experts who may not hold pilot’s licenses. Drones can now be flown before dawn and after dusk and can fly much closer to people than previously allowed. Regulations governing flight plans of drones too have been changed; pilots no longer need to provide their flight plans 24 to 72 hours in advance.

“The holdup for a lot of stations has been seeing what the FAA was going to do,” WISH News Director Al Carl told a local media organisation. “And now that this is getting settled, drones are now going to be a very important news-gathering tool.”

He also added that very soon all of their stations would have a drone and they were now discussing how the new regulations would help them utilize the technology better in news gathering and coverage.

Similarly other channels too have begun discussions of buying drones. Tribune Broadcasting’s WXIN-TV Channel 59 and WTTV-TV Channel 4 is exploring ways to add drones to newscasts, its vice president said.

While covering breaking news could become easier with the new regulations the stations have only used it for planned events in the past. However national news outlets have used drones in live breaking news situations including a July 3 suicide bomber attack in Baghdad.

Other experts agree that drones being used for sourcing news will change news coverage for the regional outlets and will become an absolutely important part of news broadcasts and soon will become essential.

The usage of drones is not only going to provide access to areas where it has been difficult to reach quickly earlier, but also be more cost efficient than hiring helicopters. As more stations buy drone it will become an industry standard as outfits without Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will be at a disadvantage.

While the current regulations make it impossible to cover unforeseen events, the new regulations could change the way stations approach disaster and recovery operations apart from various other outdoor events. Drones make it possible to shoot great images from a height that could be difficult to achieve with even a helicopter. Drones are however still not allowed to fly above people who are not under cover.

Apart from safety issues there are also privacy issues that concern many people regarding commercial drones. The Radio Television Digital News Association has industry guidelines on drones. However critics have pointed out that the new FAA regulations don’t address privacy concerns fully. It could be much easier to invade the privacy of people with a drone than a cameraman or a helicopter, experts said.

Drone manufacturers are thrilled with the new regulations and have said drones’ use in T.V news sourcing was long overdue and that the UAVs have been proven useful for various functions including search and rescue operations, construction surveys and educational purposes apart from recreational uses.

May 29

Arctic Region Has Huge Potential for Drone Use

By admin | Uncategorized

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles are now being used for various purposes, recreational and commercial. Some northern entrepreneurs now feel the Arctic region has huge potential for drone usage.

  • 5-Aug-16
  • Staff

Arctic UAV offers industrial mapping systems and aerial imagery services to individuals and companies. The company’s CEO Kirt Ejesiak recently said he started thinking about commercial uses for drones when a friend asked him to fly his drone over the roof of his house to check for a leak. His company now has five drones, each costing more than $50,000, and is on the market for more. “The interest level is extremely high,” Ejesiak told a leading media organisation.

The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth with only very few companies offering industrial surveying and imaging services there. Hence when Arctic UAV was formed it was bound to be a success. The scope of usage of drones in the Arctic is high as it a great way to obtain information about various things including surveying wildlife and aquatic life to monitoring rescue operations.

GroundTruth Exploration is another such company; it claims to provide a full spectrum set of proven exploration tools backed by an industry leading team. The company based in Dawson City, Yukon bought its first drone three years ago, which it intended to use to assess topography for mineral explorers but since then offers 3D imaging services. The usage of drones in survey situations is still underrated the company feels. The company also said it hasn’t seen a huge amount of new competition.

“We always believe the competition is coming. But we haven’t really seen many sophisticated or aggressive companies really trying to tackle that market.” A spokesperson for the company said.

While there are many barriers that could be delaying companies’ entry into this niche, including the regulatory red rape that governs commercial drones and the price of the drones themselves, the main reason seems to the hard conditions in the Arctic region.

Drone experts feel that many companies outside the north are not prepared to deal with the conditions in the Arctic. They do not develop or test their systems for the rough conditions of the Arctic and hence could find it very difficult to work there. However companies are quickly realizing the potential the Arctic has to offer and see it as a training ground for drones resulting in sturdier drones that can withstand the cold much better.

Even with drone technology evolving quickly companies with high-definition surveying capabilities are still hard to find.

While Ejesiak’s Arctic UAV has the drones and the staff it needs, it still faces other hurdles in the Arctic, as they are only licensed to fly drones within visual line of sight of the pilot on the ground. This distance is only about half a kilometer, the company hopes to eventually be able to fly beyond the line of sight which it feels could leverage the real potential of the Arctic.

May 29

Drones to Supply Blood and Medicines to Rural Health Centres in Rwanda

By admin | Uncategorized

Necessity is the mother of invention, and now it looks like it is the mother of innovation too. Drones are being deployed to deliver blood and health supplies to rural health centres in Rwanda.

  • 1-Jul-16
  • Staff

zipline-drone-rwanda.jpg

Rwanda is a small landlocked country in east-central Africa, the topography of rural Rwanda makes it difficult to get emergency services and supplies to healthcare centres in time. This led to the local government and US startup Zipline launching a drone delivery service that will start dropping blood bags and vaccines to 20 remote hospitals in the coming months.

The terrible roads and mountainous terrain of Rwanda make it difficult for medical supplies to reach the health centres by other vehicles. Since drones are not affected by the topography they were an excellent choice to implement to reach these essential services to the rural health centres.

Zipline’s drone which it calls the ‘zip’ is a small robot airplane designed for a high level of safety, using many of the same approaches as commercial airliners. It can carry vaccines, medicine, or blood. The drone will be launched into the air from medical warehouses to make hundreds of deliveries per day.

Once a health worker places an order by text message, a zip is prepared and launched into the sky,

A fleet of Zips is able to provide for a population of millions. No roads, no problem,” The company said on its website. Racing along at 100 km/h, the Zip arrives faster than any other mode of transport, and does not require a pilot. It then drops of the ordered supplies, landing gently and accurately at the health facility in an open area the size of a few parking spaces.

“One delivery, one life saved. It’s that simple.” Zipline said.

The company will now serve 20 hospitals and health centres this summer, and its aim is to put every one of Rwanda’s 11 million-plus residents within a 15 to 35 minute delivery time of any urgent medical product.

While fixed wing glider drones lack the speed of quadcopter designs, they are used very efficiently for various applications including surveillance, agriculture and environmental research. These drones also offer longer durations of flight which makes them suitable for applications such as these.While the company did not reveal the distance the Zip drone can cover at a time, it did say that it’s “unprecedented range” makes national wide coverage possible from a single base.

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