Page 1

January/February 2016

Education's Allure

Advanced research, operational insight and a glimpse of the future Page 12


Knowledge Gained From Emergency, Disaster UAS Use Page 20


The 333 Exemption Effect Page 8

Printed in USA




UAS Life After the 333

The path to success is clear, but different, for two holders of U.S. Federal Aviation Administration section 333 exemptions. By UAS Magazine Staff


The UAS Classroom

Educators use advanced research, testing and verification efforts to develop new technologies and operational strategies.


Rising to the Occasion: UAS for Emergency and Disaster Relief

Lessons learned from UAS teams linked to major emergency or disaster relief efforts. By Patrick C. Miller




28 2

Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi


Broadcast Microwave Services, Inc.

Texas UAS Summit & Expo 2016


Cyclops Technologies, Inc.


UAS Summit & Expo 2016


Red Consultants


Unmanned Risk Management

Education’s Role in UAS By Luke Geiver


Early-Year Buzz By UAS Magazine staff


January/February 2016

Education's Allure

ON THE COVER: Kansas State University continues to add UAS research efforts to its established UAS program.

Advanced research, operational insight and a glimpse of the future Page 12

Registration Basics By UAS Magazine staff


Knowledge Gained From Emergency, Disaster UAS Use Page 20


The 333 Exemption Effect Page 8 Printed in USA


EDITOR'S NOTE Education’s Role in UAS First the disclaimer: In our mission to highlight the role of the research and educational institutions in the UAS industry, and as many schools, projects and research efforts as possible for our cover story, we didn’t achieve our goal. We could not include

them all––this is a magazine, after all, not a novel. So, when staff writer Ann Bailey accepted the challenge to write about the many efforts and programs related to UAS at the university level, we knew it was going to be a major challenge in meeting our hypothetical goal for the story. The volume of UAS-related course work has Luke Geiver skyrocketed the past five years. Institutions across Editor, UAS Magazine the country are adding UAS classes or full degrees, a handful are offering post-graduate degrees in UAS. Top 10 lists for UAS schools now exist. Most, though not all, prominent UAS-affiliated schools are well-versed in aerospace. As Bailey writes, in “The UAS Classroom,” on page 12, the type, scale and purpose of university-led research for UAS is both impressive and wide in scope. Agricultural schools are researching UAS; maintenance schools are finding better ways to keep platforms ready to fly; training schools are sending UAS pilots into the field. This is all to be expected, but we find many schools are reaching past their curriculum expertise just to be a part of the growing interest and need for UAS pilots, engineers, platform developers, data analysts and mechanics. As the commercial industry continues to grow in the U.S., we expect to read about the next-best technology or platform offering from a private firm. But, Bailey reminds us that breakthroughs, accomplishments and the foothold of the future UAS sector are also linked to the classroom and labs. Luckily for all of us, UAS academia is anything but greedy or closed off from the commercial world. Many of the lessons learned at UAS schools are being incorporated into commercial operations. New for 2016, our team will provide stories each month of real-life UAS end-use cases. The days of speculation are well-past. Instead, as you’ll see in Patrick Miller’s story, on page 20, emergency management and disaster relief efforts have greatly improved via UAS, and the reality for UAS end-users is clearer now than ever. UAS are a real part of the commercial landscape. It’s time to tell the stories of what we have learned, what needs to change and what will get better, and leave the guesswork behind. Thank you for reading another issue of UAS Magazine. If you are from a school performing UAS-related work, we are expecting your call of complaint for not being included in Bailey’s article. But, don’t worry. It’s clear to us that the UAS story at the university level is a multipart one and we are already formulating the next part. We already know we’ll once again fail in our attempt to provide a comprehensive story, but we also know that is a good thing. VOLUME 3 ISSUE 1

EDITORIAL Editor Luke Geiver Staff Writer Patrick C. Miller Staff Writer Ann Bailey Copy Editor Jan Tellmann

PUBLISHING & SALES Chairman Mike Bryan CEO Joe Bryan President Tom Bryan Vice President of Operations Matthew Spoor Vice President of Content Tim Portz Business Development Manager Bob Brown Account Manager Austin Maatz Marketing & Sales Director John Nelson Circulation Manager Jessica Beaudry Marketing & Advertising Manager Marla DeFoe


Art Director Jaci Satterlund Graphic Designer Lindsey Noble Subscriptions Subscriptions to UAS Magazine are free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for any country outside the United States. To subscribe, visit or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to: UAS Magazine/ Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to 701-746-5367. Reprints and Back Issues Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 866-746-8385 or service@bbiinternational. com. Advertising UAS Magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about UAS Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 866746-8385 or Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. If you write us, please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space. Send to UAS Magazine/Letters, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to

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For the 17th year in a row, unmanned aircraft systems experts, thought leaders and high-ranking officials from the defense, government, research and regulatory communities gathered in New Mexico to talk UAS shop. From updates on groundbreaking UAS traffic management research to rollout plans for future DOD use of UAS, attendees at the Technical Analysis and Applications Center event uncovered several major topics that will be talked about in 2016.

Early–Year UAS Buzz

Kyle Synder, director off the h NextGen N G Air Ai Transportation T Group at North Carolina State University, highlighted the growing concern of many in the industry—and several at the event—regarding the appropriate communication spectrum capable of serving UAS operations in command and control situations. While GPS operates in the L-band spectrum, it is possible that the L-band will not be a possibility for future use. Synder and his team are researching spectrum issues and cyber security concerns in 2016.

Spectrum of Choice

UAS Standards on the Way

For the past two years, RTCA SC-228 has been tasked with creating minimum operational performance standards for UAS. According to Paul McDuffee, RTCA committee co-chair and Insitu spokesperson, the group expects to release its standards in 2016. ASTM’s committee F-38 on UAS also expects to have UAS standards and certification requirements out in 2016.

Moving Past the NPRM Enter the Type Class Certification Counter UAS Tech

ASSURE Building an Empire 6


Earl Lawrence, one of the new faces of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS team, is pushing a culture shift in the FAA. He is also reminding the industry that following the release of the small UAS rule, the FAA is extremely focused on making beyond visual line of sight, (BVLOS) night operations and other operational wants of the industry a reality as soon as possible.

To allow BVLOS and other such operations, the FAA considers the type class certification process the quickest path to fulfillment. A handful of UAS manufacturers have pushed to have their respective platforms certified and many more are expected to do so in 2016 and beyond, according to Lawrence.

CACI, the company chosen by the FAA to showcase a nonkinetic option to mitigating unwanted sUAS risk surrounding a defined perimeter—in the FAA’s case an airport—will test its unique, military-based technology in 2016. The company won’t be the only one to do so, however. Several other major aerospace providers have announced plans to test or sell similar technology.

The group tasked with leading the FAA’s UAS Center of Excellence has not only brought together a multitude of research institutions and private entities to talk UAS, in 2016 the team has more than 12 research initiatives planned. The group is also forming working plans with private firms to model business cases or end-use application real-life operational scenarios.



KE = ½mv 2

Equation 1: Kinetic Energy

P = mv

Equation 2: Momentum Where m is the mass of the toy drone, and v is the velocity relative to the toy drone along the aircrafts flight path

Toy drone study examines impact scenarios A new study aims at showing the difference between toy and commercial drones and the consequences of toy drones operating in the national airspace. Completed by two executives in charge of a small unmanned aircraft systems manufacturer based in Texas, the study took six months to complete. Based on comparisons with already completed studies on bird strikes with manned systems, the 26-page study has a clear conclusion, according to Hulsey Smith, CEO of Aero Kinetics and co-author of the study. “Toy drones are not designed with aerospace standards or avionics in mind,” he said. “I believe that the general public has been lulled into believing that toy drones are safe due to the ease of operation that the toy drone manufacturers have built into their products.” The study defines small UAS as those weighing 50 pounds or less that are fitted with

an autopilot and intended to be controlled through a remote radio communications link by an individual on the ground. Through comparative analysis, the study found such UAV systems are hazardous to the national airspace and that several steps should be taken to mitigate the current risk. Among them is the continuation of education to new drone users, according to Smith. Toy drones should also be equipped with ADSB responders and, in most cases, certain flight zones should be set aside solely for hobbyists to fly in without presenting risk to the NAS. “All options are on the table. To solve this problem is going to take out of the box thinking and we are going to have to embrace emerging technologies as part of the overall solutions,” Smith said.


THE PRICE OF REGISTRATION: Although the UAS Registration Task Force recommended the FAA to waive any registration fee, the FAA said it needs to charge $5.00 to recoup its procedural costs.

1 Must be 13 years or older to register 2 All sUAVs 0.5 pounds to 55 pounds must be registered 3 Registration costs $5 4 Must register before first outdoors flight 5 Must mark sUAS with identification number provided 6 Previously operated sUAS used prior to Dec. 21, have until Feb. 19, to register 7 Operators can register unlimited platforms under a single identification number


FAA unveils official sUAS registration plan Following the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Registration Task Force’s effort to create a protocol for tracking and verifying all new sUAS operated in the U.S., sUAS users—hobbyists and recreational—must now officially register all newly

purchased platforms. “Make no mistake: Unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said Anthony Foxx, U.S. Department of Transportation secretary.



UAS Life After the 333

Two UAS companies with different offerings explain the impact of receiving a 333 exemption By UAS Magazine staff

From the film set to the field

The wait for Nathan Schuett and his team of engineers and software experts behind the California-based unmanned aircraft systems developer Prenav was long and frustrating, but in the end, Schuett and team believe it will all be worth it. Having already applied their technical know-how to the film, “Gravity,� the team knew they could commercially deliver on their UAS vision once granted a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration section 333 exemption. After receiving their 333 in late October, the team has put its abilities for a new and unique approach to UAV flight and data capture precision on cinematic display. While the company continues to ready the 2016 deployment of its system to the commercial marketplace, Schuett says the team wanted to utilize its 333 to showcase why time spent developing robotic arms and software for the film industry could yield major dividends to the infrastructure monitoring segment.

ENGINEERING IMAGES: Olsson Associates uses a Draganflyer to capture images for some of its clients. PHOTO: OLSSON ASSOCIATES






Before forming Prenav, Schuett and Asa Hammond worked for Google and as freelance software and robotics makers. To create the illusion of zero-gravity, Hammond developed a 10,000 pound robotic arm and software to control it. The arm was fitted with high-end cameras and used to create the zero-gravity illusion by filming from precise locations around the actors. “We are building a very similar system for drones,” Schuett, Prenav’s CEO says. The system utilizes preflight data collected from a ground-based robotic system similar to that used in surveying operations. Equipped with the preflight data—such as cell tower heights, existing power lines or other potential flight impediments—the Prenav platform software system can be programmed to fly to precise waypoints and capture images or sense data points from very short distances away from the item being flown. “If we are doing a cell phone tower or wind turbine we scan the tower first from the ground and then we know the height and any obstacles we need to avoid,” Schuett says. “We can design a flight path that will capture everything we are interested in and preview it first on a tablet.” During the flight, the ground system communicates constantly with the inflight UAV through Wi-Fi and 100 Hz radio link. The communication allows for greater precision in image and information capture. “If you are trying to be underneath a bridge or a meter away from a wind turbine blade, you can’t trust GPS to do that,” he says. 10

growth, but Schuett says the team also knew it needed to let the world know about its unique capabilities. With more videos scheduled and a complete system becoming available for purchase or use in 2016, the 333 was the start, but not the end of progress, he adds. “I’m really looking forward to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for sUAS becoming rule next summer and the process of work becoming more accessible.”

UAS helps Colorado engineering firm fly higher

PRECISION POINTS: Preflight scans performed by a ground robot give the UAV a flight path to follow that can put the UAV extremely close to physical objects or particular points in the air. PHOTO: PRENAV

As part of their post-333 system roll-out efforts, the team created a short video showcasing how precise the system can be. In the film, the team mounted LED lights on its commercial grade UAV platform. Using a preflight plan, the platform was flown to spell out the phrase, “hello world.” At predetermined intervals and places, the operating software turned the LED lights on. After the flight, the team combined its footage of the system in action to show the results of the flight plan. The flight spelled out the


phrase, ultimately highlighting how precise the system can fly. “It is very similar, whether you are blinking an LED or taking a video, the ability to move the drone to any point in space is important,” he says. “Being able to do it over and over again is useful for aerial filmmaking and for infrastructure work.” For Schuett, receiving the 333 has pushed conversations with clients past the hypothetical stage. The team has already set-up surveying jobs with infrastructure clients. Holding the 333 was key for commercial

Olsson Associates has successfully integrated unmanned aircraft systems into its engineering firm’s operations. The Lincoln-Nebraska based firm was awarded a FAA 333 exemption in May. Olsson Associates operates two Draganflyer UAS to collect images for its engineering clients. Jonathan Harris, Olsson Associates unmanned program manager, approached company officials three years ago to talk about the capabilities of UAS and the opportunities UAS could provide. An Olsson Associates geospatial analyst at that time, Harris also is a hobbyist remote control aircraft pilot and published photographer. Since 2008, he had been watching the Mesa County (Colorado) Sheriff ’s Department, the first in the United States to receive a Certificate of Authorization to operate UAS. Harris says he believes unmanned air systems could contribute significantly to Olsson Associates’ success. “I definitely saw the writ-


ing on the wall that it would be a standard piece of equipment in the quiver,” Harris says. Olsson Associates applied for the 333 exemption in November 2014 and the FAA granted it to the firm six months later. The fact that Olsson Associates has the exemption for commercial use of UAS is important to many of the firm’s clients, Harris says. “What we’re finding is that a lot of clients are requesting we have a 333 in place to even have conversations about doing the work,” he says. However, the downside of having the 333 exemption is that it limits the areas in which Olsson Associates can operate its UAS, he notes. Some other companies aren’t waiting for the exemption so they may get hired for projects that his firm cannot do, Harris explains. Olsson Associates, however, “takes the long-term look and realizes the benefits will

outweigh the inconvenience,” Harris says. Not only does Olsson Associates have a 333 exemption, it also has permission from the FAA to operate its two Dragonflyer UAS in areas where typically holders of COA’s cannot. For example, Olsson Associates is working on a project within the 5-mile buffer of the downtown Kansas City airport. “That required a huge amount of coordination with the airport managers, air traffic control and the FAA,” Harris says. The firm gained the trust of the three by having many conversations about its operating plan for the UAS. “We really kind of showed them we can successfully work within the airport environment,” Harris says. “It came down to already having the 333 and some successful projects under our belt and having open conversations with the FAA. “Everyone we talked to was

HELLO WORLD: To showcase the ability of its system to stop at precise points in the air, the Prenav team created an award-winning video using LED lights and preplanned flights to create shapes and words in the air. PHOTO: PRENAV

happy we called them. There are so many people out there doing the work without that phone call.” Besides having conversations with FAA officials, Harris and his colleague Michael Laird, Olsson Associates other UAS pilot, went through a two-day Dragonflyer Innovations training program before they began operating the Dragonflyer for their work. Operating the UAS to gather imagery has greatly enhanced the amount of data they can collect, Harris says. “The biggest advantage we are finding is the density of data that you can acquire with UAV.” The team is also learning that UAS can fly into areas that would be difficult to access from the ground. For example, in June 2015, Harris operated the Draganflyer to conduct a survey for the city of Fruita, Colorado, which wanted to connect a section of land to the Kokopelli Trail, a world class hiking system.

Olsson Associates received an Engineering of Excellence award for that project from the American Council of Engineering Companies. It was the first time the ACEC Colorado had awarded the honor for a UAS project. Anticipating the potential for UAS to play a significant part in Olsson Associates engineering work and doing the leg work to make it a reality helped the firm get out in front of the competition, Harris said. “We completed the learning curve before the others have started,” he says.

TOP-NOTCH IMAGES: Jonathan Harris, Olsson Associates unmanned aerial systems program manager, operates a UAS with a camera to take images for some of his engineering firms' clients. PHOTO: OLSSON ASSOCIATES






The UAS Classroom From technology breakthroughs to new company launches, university UAV work is vast, varied and more valuable than ever before. By Ann Bailey

Unmanned aerial systems newspaper and magazine articles plaster the bulletin board in Al Palmer’s office at the end of the fall semester at the University of North Dakota. “Every article written about UAS is on the bulletin board,” says Palmer, UND Center for UAS Research, Education and Training director. By the end of the academic year, the UAS stories will be pinned to the bulletin board two or three deep, a testimony to the breadth of UND’s unmanned aircraft systems research and development. The strength of UND, which offers a bachelor’s degree in unmanned systems, is sense and avoid and pilot training, Palmer says. The university is part of six UAS test sites that are charged by the Federal Aviation Administration with helping integrate UAS into the national air space. At UND, research also is underway by professors who are studying how the unmanned aircrafts can be integrated into their programs. A UND wildlife biologist, for example, is participating in a research project in northern Manitoba to monitor nesting birds. Palmer believes that UAS has applications for many other disciplines, including rural health. For example, UAS potentially could deliver anti-venom to a snake bite victim in a remote area or deliver blood to a patient in a rural community, Palmer says.

UAS FLEET: Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salinas has a variety of UAS for its students to operate. PHOTO: KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATION AND MARKETING



FLYING HIGH: Students at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater are known to get requests to build UAS. PHOTO: OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY

North Dakota, once referred to as the Silicon Valley of UAS, has caught the attention of not only local print journalists whose stories cover Palmer’s bulletinboard, but also reporters who write for national publications such as the New York Times.

University matters

The stories highlighting UND’s contribution to the UAS industry are mirrored at universities across the U.S. that are conducting a myriad of research projects and training their students for a multiplicity of careers in the industry. “The sky is the limit on what these aircrafts can do,” says Daniel Mendez, a Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation air worthiness and standardization engineer and 2014 Texas A & M-Corpus Christi mechanical engineering graduate. “It’s a young industry. It’s very robust.” Mendez decided to pursue a degree at Texas A &M-Corpus Christi after graduating from Richard King High School in 14

2009 in Corpus Christi because he enjoyed math and engineering in high school. “I knew the university here offered that,” Mendez says. What he didn’t know was that an introduction to aerodynamics and performance class would pique his interest in robotics and eventually land him a job with the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation. Texas A & M-Corpus Christi’s responsibility as a testsite host is to provide the FAA with the data and a better understanding of how the national airspace will be integrated and how that can be safely accomplished says Luis Cifuentes, Texas A & M president for research, commercialization and outreach. Being able to integrate UAS safely into the air space is key to the economic development of the unmanned air craft systems industry, he said. Meanwhile, at Texas A & M-Corpus Christi, economic development of the UAS industry is considered important if it is to gain acceptance by the public. “We are very much inter-


ested in the overall outreach of what we do, particularly locally and regionally; not only getting people to understand and get excited, but to allay fears and dispel incorrect information.,” Cifuentes says. In the Texas A & M-Corpus Christi program, workforce development is also considered to be a major factor in economic development in the UAS industry, he says. Besides carrying out the duties outlined for test sites, Texas A & M, is involved in a variety of UAS research, including development of a sensor integration system for UAS, which has applications in the oil and gas industry, Cifuentes says. A Texas A & MCorpus Christi team conducting the research, which is funded by a National Science Foundation grant, is studying how gases can be detected, he says. Meanwhile, Texas A & M students research includes traditional projects such as search and rescue, disaster mitigation and precision agriculture, he says. Students also are involved in less conventional UAS research that

includes using Google Glass to control UAS, studying how UAS can be used in dance performances and how UAS can be used to paint large-scale murals on a wall, he says. “We are encouraging as much integration, as much of a multi-disciplinary approach as possible,” Cifuentes says. “We are encouraging people to be really imaginative about how they might get involved.” At Purdue University Polytechnic Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana, students in the UAS program learn how to be UAS pilots, technicians and to program and repair UAS, says, Mike Leasure, associate professor. The university has five full-time students enrolled in its fledgling UAS major and 26 in its minor. Purdue University Polytechnic’s Institute’s comprehensive UAS operations program, which emphasizes safety and reliability, is helping move the UAS industry forward, Leasure says. The land grant university also is involved in agricultural research using UAS, Leasure says. A multi-disciplinary team made


LAUNCHING UAS: Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salinas students learn how to operate UAS and use them for research. PHOTO: KANAS STATE UNIVERSITY COMMIUNICATIONS AND MAREKTING.

up of geospacial experts, georeferencing experts and data and computer science experts conduct the research. The institute received a $6.5 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to use UAS to develop a sorghum variety for the biofuels industry, Leasure says. Researchers are operating a hyperspecteral camera to phenotype sorghum. “Many companies are using multispecteral, Leasure says. “To my knowledge, Purdue flew the first hyperscpeteral.” Purdue University Polytechnic Institute also is using UAS to evaluate the rate of canopy growth in soybeans. “The aerial allows us to cover a much larger area quick-

er,” Leasure says. “And we don’t damage the plants, and if the field is muddy we can still go in.” Leasure believes that largescale phenotyping will be underway in the not-too-distant future. “The obvious next move is to go to larger frames and more diverse environments and do the research in a larger area,” he says This winter, the institute will add more unmanned aircraft to its fleet, including a custom-built, next generation UAS with a 10foot wing span that will haul and protect a $70,000 nanocamera, Leasure says. At Washington State University in Pullman Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, scientists also

have integrated UAS into agricultural research, says Ralph Cavalieri, WSU associate vice president of research. “Many of the faculty associated with the research center do sensor-related research that is appropriate for agriculture,” Cavalieri says “They have been doing this for a long time.” Plant breeders initially used satellites for remote sensing, but now are using UAS. For example, plant breeders are operating UAS in their work studying the phoenotypical characteristics of different varietal crosses, Cavalieri explains, noting that plants under stress will exhibit a different specteral image than healthy plants.

A less conventional use of UAS for agricultural research is studying whether UAS can be used to dry cherry tree fruit. If cherries that are nearly ripe stay wet too long after it rains, the fruit will crack and farmers can’t sell it as fresh produce, Cavalieri said. “We’re using UAS helicopters, relatively large ones from Japan to dry the cherries.” Wildlife research using UAS also is underway at Washington State University-Pullman, Cavalier says. For example, a wildlife researcher is operating a UAS to monitor pygmy rabbits, a threatened species, he says At the University of Colorado in Boulder, weather remains at the forefront at the UAS research, says Brian Argrow, CUBoulder aerospace engineering professor. The university has conducted research ranging from operating UAS to profile the lower atmospheric boundary layer to flying three systems simultaneously into supercell thunderstorms to intercept wind gusts, Argrow says. While CU-Boulder does not have a specific UAS curriculum, its engineering students can take courses on building airframes and communicating with UAS systems which can lead them to careers in the UAS industry. For example a former CUBoulder student who was involved with ad hoc and networking while he was at the university formed Blacksmith Technologies, a company that manufactures autopilots and solutions for communication, command and control for UAS companies, Argrow says, UASUSA is another private company developed from CU-Boulder’s UAS research.



“Those two companies have come directly out of our efforts,” Argrow says. The university, meanwhile, also created Rocky Mountain LLC, a not-for-profit business league that promotes and improves the Colorado aerospace industry, focusing on safe integration of UAS throughout the state for the public’s benefit. Farther north, Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salinas is the first university in the United States to receive approval from the FAA to offer commercial flight training to students and to outside companies, says Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research at the Kansas State Polytechnic Campus. “It’s different in that we can conduct training in a specific mission set,” Barnhart says. “This allows us to develop a similar type of training to what professional pilots do,” adds Kurt Carraway, KSU-Polytechnic Campus acting program manager. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in UAS and will incorporate the new flight training that was made possible by the approval from the FAA into the existing discipline. Next year, fall semester, students will work their way through multirotor training and multirotor instruction to fixed wing rotor and fixed wing instructor. Commercial operators, meanwhile, will have the opportunity to train in the field under KSU Polytechnic’s Certificate of Authorization or inside the university’s enclosed unmanned flight facility. The Polytechnic Campus continues to look for ways to develop the UAS industry, Carraway says. 16

UAS WORK: Oklahoma State University students have been operating remote control aircraft since the mid-1990s. PHOTO: OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY

“We’re really trying to help the FAA determine aircraft and certificate standards and pursuing airman certification and training standards,” he says. “These are areas, we’re really proud of, our core relationship with the FAA.” Kansas State University Polytechnic is a core member of the FAA’s Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence or the ASSURE program. Membership in ASSURE has funded research projects helping UAS to develop integration efforts into the national air space, Carraway says. The organization’s 22 members includes Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, University of AlaskaFairbanks and UND. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University focuses primarily on assisting the FAA with integration of UAS into the national air space, says Richard Heist. He sees that as important work because the number of people operating UAS is exploding.


“You can go to Walmart and buy these things. That’s scary. That’s why the FAA is moving toward registration. They need to be able to trace it back if there’s an accident. We’re heavily involved in that research,” Heist says. Researchers who work in Embry-Riddles applied research center also are looking at ways to monitor and maintain power lines, treat isolated parts of disease-damaged citrus orchards and monitor hurricanes. “There is a lot going on in respect to research at EmbryRiddle because that’s what we’re good at,” Heist says. Besides conducting research with UAS, Embry-Riddle also has bragging rights to the oldest bachelor’s program in unmanned aircraft systems science, he says. Embry Riddle students are embracing the opportunity to operate UAS. “We have a full-scale airplane that is autonomous here. Everything in the industry isn’t

those little things hovering over a stadium taking pictures for ABC,” Heist says. “Students love it.” Although ERAU has been training its students for jobs in the airline industry for 50 years, “the closest students get to airplanes often is when they get to their internships at Boeing,” Heist says. The UAS industry is exploding with job possibilities for students, Heist believes. “What would be a metric for measuring how this area is growing and how valuable students are who come out of universities is that the starting salaries are $70,000 and higher.” At the University of AlaskaFairbanks, a UAS test site, the focus, historically, has also been aviation, says Marty Rogers, business director at the university and ASSURE deputy director. “That’s really how the program has grown,” Rogers says. Meanwhile, University of Alaska-Fairbanks also “embedded” its test site into its UAS program, he says. “”We minimized our investment, but at the same time expanded our capabilities.” The university UAS program accomplished that by going out and marketing its research, Rogers says. Research projects under way at UAF focus on the Arctic, he says. “Whether it is marine mammals, emergency response, wildlife response; infrastructure of all types that exist in the Arctic, offshore and onshore,” Rogers says. In January, two new Sea Hunter UAS systems with fuel-injected engines and 5-meter wingspans will be delivered to the university.


The UAS will enable the university to expand its beyond-lineof-sight work for the oil and gas industry, he said. The massive amount of interest in Arctic research led the university to a decision to partner with an Icelandic company to open an office in Iceland. “Iceland has set aside a beyond-line-of-site specifically for unmanned aircraft,” Rogers says. That sharply reduces the amount of time a client has to wait if it wants to conduct beyond-line-ofsight research, he says. “To go and fly there, for us, is not a six-month process. If a client wants to schedule it, we can schedule it and fly there,” he says. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, also works with members of the

private UAS industry to move their commercialization efforts forward, says Craig Woolsey, a Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University aerospace and engineering department professor. The university recently joined the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center program with CU-Boulder and Brigham Young University, Woolsey says. The aim of the IUCRC, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is to move research from an academic setting into a commercial setting. The 24 industry members who make up the IUCRC define the research agenda and the academic members carry out the research, Woolsey says. Virginia Polytechnic Insti-

FIELD OF VIEW: Students at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salinas learn how to operate UAS and conduct research in agriculture and other end-use applications. PHOTO: KANAS STATE UNIVERSITY COMMIUNICATIONS AND MAREKTING

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tute and State University also is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Partnership or MAPP and in that role works to assist the FAA with UAS integration into the air space. Researchers at the university also are engaged in a variety of other research including using UAS imagery to determine agricultural crops health, bridge infrastructure inspections and UAS cyber security, Woolsey says. While UAS programs are relatively new

at many universities across the United States, students at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater have operated remote control aircraft since the late 1990s, says Jamey Jacob, OSU school of mechanical and aerospace engineering and Unmanned Research Institute director. Students involved in a campus organization designed and built the remote control aircraft and flew them in competition.

“That’s really where we developed our reputation at the undergraduate level,” Jacob says. “We kind of like to say ‘We did unmanned aircraft before it was cool,’” he says. One of OSU’s core strengths, he says, is developing platforms. Companies are asking OSU graduate students to build UAS for them. “One of the things we’re really good at is a rapid development cycle,” Jacob says. “We can go from a clean sheet of paper to a rather large unmanned aircraft in months.” Whether it’s research and academic work or assisting the FAA with air space integration, universities across the U.S. are dedicated and persistent in their efforts to move the UAS industry forward. “The reason North Dakota is a leader didn’t just happen, it was a lot of work,” the University of North Dakota's Palmer. A quote Palmer read in a book sums up what he thinks it took for UND and the state of North Dakota to gain recognition as a UAS leader. “If you have vision and you have action, you can change the world,” Palmer says. “That’s what I think happened in North Dakota.” And, judging by the success borne of their dedication and effort, change is happening in universities across the United States. The universities, with the financial and moral support of their state leaders, are launching UAS to a higher level and advancing the careers of thousands of students. “I love what I do here,” says Mendez, the Lone Star Test air worthiness and standardization engineer.” I wake up every morning in a good mood. It’s a very fun career to be in.” Author: Ann Bailey Staff Writer, UAS Magazine 701-738-4976



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UAS for emergency and disaster relief UAS are rapidly becoming an important tool for disaster response teams and emergency service units, but are they being used to their greatest potential? By Patrick C. Miller

On March 11, 2011, following a magnitude 9 earthquake off the coast of Japan, a tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., triggering a nuclear meltdown that caused mass evacuations from the surrounding area.

As horrific as the images from Japan were, it was the radiation leaking from the nuclear power plant that threatened to make the scope of the disaster even worse. But these events also provided an opportunity for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to prove their worth while accomplishing what people couldn’t in conditions that forced humans to risk their lives. Robin Murphy, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) and founder of Roboticists Without Borders, was part of a team that traveled to Japan to help bring the situation under control. She worked out of Toshiba’s headquarters in Tokyo, about 150 miles southwest of Fukushima.

FIRST RESPONDER: Former Canadian Air Force drone pilot James Power now flies an Indro RoboticS UAS for Renfrew County Paramedic Services in Ontario, Canada. PHOTO: RENFREW COUNTY PARAMEDIC SERVICES



Although satellites and manned aircraft showed the damaged plant from above, they couldn’t see into the areas nuclear engineers needed to view. It was impossible for anyone to reach some of the areas where radiation measurements were most needed. That job was delegated to four Honeywell T-Hawk micro air vehicles (MAV) remotely piloted by a specially trained three-person team. However, their experience was in tracking potential military targets in Afghanistan and Iraq, not flying in close proximity in or near heavily damaged buildings. That’s where Murphy’s expertise came in. The two organizations Murphy leads first went into action using robots to explore the wreckage below the collapsed twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 that CRASAR used UAS to survey damage for the first time. “Not only did we do the initial response, we were first up with small fixed-wing and rotocraft UAVs,” Murphy says. “A couple months later we came back and had eight days of intensive flying at multistory commercial buildings in Biloxi along the Gulf Coast. “Every night, we would pipe the data back to FEMA, to several of the top civil engineering schools and a top engineering consulting firm to let them see it,” she explains. “When you have big damage, it means you need civil engineers and construction specialists to look at it.” The experience proved 22

BUILT TO SPEC: Lt. Matthew Tiedemann, coordinator of the Bergen County (New Jersey) Office of Emergency Management, worked with EagleEye Systems to develop training program and a UAS system for the agency. PHOTO: BERGEN COUNTY OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

valuable six years later as events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant threatened to make a bad situation even worse. The CRASAR team knew how to operate UAS at low altitudes in urban canyons as opposed to the higher altitudes and open spaces where the military typically flew its drone missions. They understood the aerodynamics of operating in close proximity to damaged structures. And they knew how to get into and out of tight spots “Those are the sorts of things we’d been working on when we got called into Fukushima,” Murphy notes. Honeywell’s T-Hawks enabled nuclear engineers to be in the loop and direct where they needed the UAVs positioned, such as in a plume to measure radiation emissions or to determine what was in escaping steam. Murphy characterizes


the Fukushima UAS mission as extremely successful. Rather than making guesses or estimates, having the drones record measurements from various altitudes helped gather highly accurate 3D telemetry quickly. “Certainly there are ways to do estimates, but, boy, it’s nice when you have so many things going wrong to have the most accurate data possible and have it so much quicker than if you had to suit up a person and do it every day for a couple months,” she says. CRASAR continues to assist in disasters where it’s invited and apply lessons learned to advance the use of UAS in disaster response. Its drones mapped the area of the March 2014 mudslide near Oso, Washington, that claimed the lives of 43 people. Closer to home, in May 2015, CRASAR assisted the Texas A&M Lone Star UAS

Test Site in the search for survivors of a 300-year flood at Wimberly, Texas, where a dozen people died. Besides keeping up with the latest technical innovations in robotics, Murphy says there’s still much to learn about using UAS for disaster response, such as planning and coordinating with all entities involved. She says collecting data, analyzing it and quickly getting it to decision makers is crucial to exploiting UAS capabilities. “We’ve been saying since Katrina that it’s not about the UAVs, but once the platforms get good enough, it’s really about the data,” she explains.

Hurricane lessons

Another company that learned an important lesson from Hurricane Katrina is Woolpert Inc., an engineering consulting firm with nearly 50


years of experience in conducting aerial surveys with manned aircraft. Jeff Lovin, senior vice president for Woolpert’s division of government solutions, says that shortly after the hurricane subsided, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted the company to survey the damage along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. “It took us several days to mobilize one of our large aircraft,” Lovin recalls. “The airspace was shut down at the altitudes we wanted to fly. It was also being used for evacuations and to bring in supplies. Plus, the local airport infrastructure was devastated.” It was nearly a week before Woolpert could fly the survey mission. However, the company had surveyors on the ground immediately after the storm to collect GIS field data on critical infrastructure of interest to the Corps to determine whether it survived the hurricane. “The same boots on the ground could have launched a UAS much earlier than we were

able to get one of our larger aircraft down to there,” he says. “It would have been a small UAS at a lower altitude that wouldn’t have affected any of the other air traffic. It could have collected a lot more data much more quickly than we were able to on the ground.” As a result, Woolpert conducted a proof-of-concept project with the Corps of Engineers last year, using an Altavian fixed-wing UAS to conduct surveys of Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi and Duck, an island town on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. These two areas are frequently ravaged by hurricanes, Lovin says. “Inevitably, there will be other storms that hit those areas,” he explains. “The Corps definitely sees UAS as a valuable tool to collect a lot of data very quickly.” Woolpert has already begun training its ground survey teams to use UAS. Unlike Hurricane Katrina, Lovin says they

will be prepared to deploy the unmanned aircraft and begin collecting highly accurate 3D LIDAR data soon after a storm subsides. And because of Woolpert’s decades of aviation experience, they know how to coordinate their flights with local authorities.

First response realities

On the local level, first responders in emergency service units are discovering that UAS are an important tool for jobs ranging from searching for lost hikers in the woods to creating greater situational awareness at crime scenes, accidents, fires and public events. But they’re also finding that obtaining UAS, learning how to use them and operating them within government regulations is a challenge. Lt. Matthew Tiedemann, coordinator of the Bergen County (New Jersey) Office of Emergency Management says the agency has four UAVs and admits that progressing to the

point where they could be used in daily operations was difficult. “You would think it would be harder for someone to fly it who buys one off the Internet than it would be for a government agency,” he says. “There’s a lot of hoops to jump through and a lot of red tape to go through, but we want to do it right by developing a program with proper policies and procedures.” BCOEM formed a partnership with EagleEye Systems, a software and UAV technology company based in Brussels, Belgium, that also has an office in New York. Tiedemann says that not only has EagleEye helped his office set up a training program, but it also developed and customized a secondgeneration UAS to their fit their specifications. “They brought their engineer with them and tweaked it right on site,” he says. According to Geoffrey Mormal, EagleEye chief technology officer, a second-gen-



ABOVE IT ALL: A drone with the Texas A&M Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) maps mudslide near Oso, Washington, that killed 43 people in 2014. PHOTO: CRASAR

eration UAV has autonomous capabilities that greatly exceed those of current small UAS, which use a simple autopilot. The system designed for BCOEM has multiple processors and an operating system that enable it to quickly process information gathered by its sensors for great efficiency. This capability was demonstrated when Bergen County firefighters battled a blaze at an electrical substation. The EagleEye UAV was programmed to fly the four corners of the fire 24

area. It quickly revealed that the main water stream was missing the most intense area of the fire. “The firefighters were able to adjust the stream and get it on the fire,” Tiedemann says. “They knocked it down faster than if they hadn’t had that aerial footage.” Two years ago, at a mall in Hackensack, New Jersey, a man opened fire on shoppers. Fortunately, he didn’t hit anyone before taking his own life. Because of the incident, Tiedemann says BCOEM conducted


an active shooter exercise in the mall using its UAS in coordination with a SWAT team. “It was amazing to use for looking around corners and checking out areas without having to send a SWAT team into harm’s way,” he notes. In Canada, the Renfrew County Paramedic Services in Ontario is already incorporating UAS into its daily operations. Chief paramedic Michael Nolan says the population of the 7,000-square-mile county doubles to 200,000 in the summer

when tourists, hikers, campers and canoeists arrive for activities and events. “One of the challenges we have as a paramedic service is being able to respond in a timely manner and also be able to access people in remote locations, identify their location for search and rescue and be able to deliver goods—such as a defibrillator—to people who are in remote access locations,” he says. Renfrew County’s use of UAS began when Nolan learned


that one of his paramedics— James Power—was an ex-drone pilot for the Canadian Air Force. Nolan purchased a DJI Phantom 2 and Power began demonstrating its capabilities for others in emergency services who quickly realized its potential. “It got early buy-in for people to appreciate a more spatial view of a complex situation in a training exercise,” he explains. “It allows people to change their resource allocation and use it as a training tool for the debriefing of staff who were involved at a scene. It’s a very different view being 200 feet above rather than staring at the helmet of the guy in front of you.” Those efforts led to a relationship with Indro Robotics in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, a commercial UAS manufacturer with aviation experience. The company provided RCPS with a customized quadcopter and assisted the agency in working with Transport Canada to obtain a special flight operating certificate. In addition to helping search for lost hikers and working large community events, Nolan says the UAS can be used to rescue someone who’s fallen through ice, assist firefighters and investigate traffic accidents and crime scenes. The UAS proved invaluable to the county’s first responders on Sept. 22. A triple homicide near Wilno, Ontario, required them to enter a crime scene when the shooter’s location was unknown. “We were able to go in and look in the windows, look under the building, look in the garage, as well as provide an over-watch

service for the police officers as they gained entry to the property,” Nolan relates. “We were able to identify the position and condition of the victim by using the UAV. It really gave the police a much greater appreciation for what they were going into to the extent that you could say it was probably the most meaningful help and safety tool that you can use for first responders.”

Regulation changes ahead?

The use of UAS for emer-

gency services is so vital that Nolan argues that legislators and regulators should treat it differently. “Emergency service use should either have its own exemption or its own set of regulations that recognize the risk/ benefit,” he says. “Emergency service use changes substantially from someone using a UAV in the film industry or in real estate or for tourism. The existing regulatory framework doesn’t take into account that if we do not have the ability to use a UAV to its fullest extent,

that in itself can increase harm and risk to the subject by not allowing us to put our best foot forward as first responders. “We need to help regulators by creating an acknowledgement that this isn’t a onesize-fits-all utilization, that it comes with different risks and rewards for appropriate use,” he concludes. Author: Patrick C. Miller Staff Writer, UAS Magazine 701-738-4923

FLOOD OF TROUBLE: During severe flooding in Texas in May 2015, the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Lone Star UAS Test Site led efforts to use UAS to search for survivors. PHOTO: TEXAS A&M CORPUS CHRISTI


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UAS Magazine - January February 2016  

Operations, Training & Education

UAS Magazine - January February 2016  

Operations, Training & Education