October 2015


September has been a very busy quad month for me as I dial in, test and retest my new DJI Phantom 3 Pro. More on that later.
But first, here is an article from EBRC Quad Talk Senior Quad Reporter Todd Meeker who covered this year’s ‘2015 InterDrone Conference’.

Take it away Todd:


The 2015 InterDrone Conference was held at the Rio Hotel Conference Center in Las Vegas September 9-11. There were 3000+ attendees. Every state in the USA and 60+ countries were represented at the conference.  There were numerous Keynote Speeches, Panel Discussions, and Classes over the 3 days of the conference as well as a Vendor Exhibition Hall.  Focus of the Conference can be summarized in three key areas of drone development. 1) Commercial, 2) Hobbyist, 3) Military. This conference focused on Commercial and Hobbyist. There was minimal focus on military.


Stuff that will be on the midterm quiz:
1. Birth of A New Industry - I was impressed and amazed at the large number of people and vendors entering the drone business commercially; pilots, hobbyists, venture capitalists, manufacturers of equipment and always the eventual winners, the developers of software). The Unmanned Aerial Systems space is rapidly expanding and drone integration into the enterprise is starting to ramp. The show was placed on par to the launch of the PC industry, the launch of the Internet, and the ascent of social media.  The big push today is an evolution into developing remote sensing capability on drones.  Worldwide drone unit sales have increased from 500,000 units in 2014 to 1,000,000 units in 2015. Expected unit sales in 2016 will exceed 2,000,000 units.  The evolution has evolved from 2014 where drones flew, to 2015 where drones fly with connection to phones ad tablets, to next year’s probability that drones will be connected to the cloud. (Hopefully, it won’t rain that day. Never know though.) Certainly improved battery technology is still needed and everyone is counting on Elon Musk for that.


2. Venture Capital Comments: In the past, investment funds have gone to developing drone platforms. Future investment will go to cloud integration, specific industry software, data collection and sensing methods. Big Data and the related sensing capability is a major development focus going forward.  Many vendors are getting involved. The early winners in the hobbyist space are DJI, Yuneec, and 3DR. The jury is still out as to which firms will be the winners in the enterprise space but certainly Boeing and Lockheed are key players. Like any developing market, it is expected that many initial players will come and go as consolidation takes place over time. There will likely be multiple winners (like the auto industry). Military drones, are already very sophisticated. However, they are being ‘designed down’ to meet the needs and price points of the enterprise space and the hobbyist space.

3. Future Developments - Drones will self-navigate and have collision avoidance capability. Along with communication to the cloud comes the ability for the drone to safely navigate around restricted areas thus preventing the operator from flying in restricted space. A company named “Skyward” is already far along in this space. Development is expected in the following areas: remote sensing, cell phone tracking, WiFi detection, collision avoidance, object detection, and color detection (Ex: clothing color detection for search and rescue).

4. California SB142 - There was a big round of applause when it was learned that the California governor had vetoed SB142 that would have created a liability and penalty to the operator of an UAS who flies over private property below 350ft. without permission No doubt there will be other efforts to deal with the “privacy” issues.

5. Commercial Uses of Drones include today: Utility (Inspection of towers and lines), Oil & Gas (inspection of pipelines), Railroad (inspection of rails), Mining, Agriculture, Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Maritime, Construction/Engineering, Real Estate, Retail, Aerial Cinematography, Others TBD.

6. FAA - Currently to use a drone for commercial purposes the operator/flyer needs a “333 exemption” from the FAA. By law, any aircraft operation in the national airspace requires a certificated and registered aircraft, a licensed pilot, and operational approval. Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the National Airspace System (NAS). This “333 exemption” is fairly difficult to obtain (drone operator must be a licensed pilot). A Proposed new rule called “Part 107”, if approved and implemented, creates new rules for small commercial UAS flyers (<55lbs, max speed 88 mph, flies below 500ft, must maintain Line of Sight, don’t fly over people). A test would be given at 500+ knowledge centers around the US. Other Future FAA rulings are likely to address: a. Tethered UAS (used by media like CNN for extended periods of flying), and b. Beyond Line of Sight flying (Being driven by railroads where there is a need for long range flying to inspect tracks). Drones (fixed wing) exist currently for this type of need (e.g. The Boeing Insitu ScanEagle is a small, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing. The Precision Hawk “Lancaster Platform” is also a platform for extended range capability. There is a new FAA Advisory Circular No 91-57A dated September 5, 2015 that further defines Recreational Hobby use. These FAA references are available on the FAA website for those wanting more detail.

In Conclusion:
A great conference! Even though this conference is focused on the commercial market there is plenty of hobbyist coverage. Drone platform technology, camera equipment, and software capabilities are developing rapidly. It would be great to attend next year’s conference to see the changes that will come. I believe that the “Privacy” issues and the “Regulatory” issues will ultimately be addressed effectively. One thing is for sure. With drone technology advancing, drone equipment purchased today will be obsolete in short order (similar to cell phones). I’ve picked out 2 wish list drones that I would like to have (i.e. DJI Inspire, Yuneec Tornado. Today, you can buy excellent current technology for about $1.3k (Yuneec Typhoon, DJI Phantom 3). You can get a DJI Phantom 2V2 (older technology) for $499. There’s plenty of very good drones to pick from.


I will be on assignment for a few months but will be monitoring what happens with the regulatory aspect and with new drone technology developments before I buy. No doubt there will be more advanced equipment, and better prices, each and every day.


Let’s hear a big EBRC round applause for our Senior Quad Talk Reporter, Todd Meeker.


As for me and my Phantom 3 Pro learning curve, I will post cool stuff on my channel.


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmIYYnXthp2mTXjnnVBjHlg

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