Photo of sunset by Christopher Korody
Works Most Nights

Hi all –

Nothing directly out of the FAA this week – I’m imagining them huddled in endless subterranean meetings slamming vente’s while they put the finishing touches on Part 107. But there is plenty going on all around them.

Remember the kid in Connecticut who went viral on YouTube when he loaded up his drone with a handgun, and then later used a flamethrower to brown his Thanksgiving turkey? Well he’s back – in court – and it turns out that the FAA has a lot on the line since this will be first judicial decision regarding the FAA’s authority to regulate small drones.

Jason Koebler of Motherboard delivered a tour de force this week loosely grouped around the idea that the FAA is not a reliable narrator – you know, just because they said it, doesn’t make it so. Jason had a lot of support researching the article from some of droneville’s top barristers, so this one is as “right” as a legal opinion can be.

The AIRR initiative has run out of runway for this session of Congress. If you’ve had to many acronyms this morning, AIRR was House Transportation Chair Bill Shuster’s bid to put Air Traffic Control in the hands of a separate federally chartered organization. The idea derailed the House FAA Reauthorization bill. However, it didn’t stop a former FAA Chief Counsel from delving in to FAA history to consider whether the FAA really benefits from being part of the Department of Transportation. Wonky but definitely interesting.

Rounding out the week is the AMA’s look at the FAA’s most recent drone sightings report. The number of sightings has been declining since August 2015. Still, in 14 instances pilots reported taking evasive action to avoid a drone. Perhaps the most interesting part of the report is the FAA’s concession that there is no regulatory definition of a ‘close call’. And of course none of the 500+ reported sightings could be independently confirmed.

Hot on the heels of Patrick Egan’s keynote at sUSB about intellectual honesty, comes Gary Mortimer’s commentary about snake oil salesman revving up to take advantage of the Part 107 “feeding frenzy.” And yes you do recognize the name, he is the editor of sUAS News in the UK.

Some interesting technology notes. MITRE has selected the eight finalists for their Countering Unauthorized Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) $100K Challenge. This is a big deal shoot-out to see who can neutralize or knockdown potential evil doers in an urban setting. Johns Hopkins made a big deal about some grad students hacking a Parrot BeBop as their ‘capstone’ project. At the risk of being controversial, I don’t think that a $500 drone needs to be all that secure. And something tells me that there are not many consumers who want to pay for it.

It looks like the staid old world of insurance is being dragged kicking and screaming into the present. Terry Miller announced that he has become an underwriter in partnership with Allianz. I assume that means that Unmanned Risk has the power of the pen since Terry indicates that he can quote directly.

Trying to shake things up is a new company out of Singapore called ALAS that will be offering a free drone navigation system to their insurance customers. Apparently they put on quite a show last week for about 150 at the Asia Pacific RPAS Symposium. The CTO is part of the Global UTM Standardization Group.

Adrian Flux, a specialty UK automotive insurance broker has announced an autonomous (personal driverless) car insurance policy. Very interesting to see how they approached this.

Go Pro’s Nick Woodman told analysts that the company is going for the pivot and are now betting the future on video editing software. My two cents – trying to launch in both the consumer drone and video editing markets in one year is enough to stress any marketing machine, never mind budget. If you own GPRO this may give you a queasy feeling. I hope they call because I can help…

If you are interested in China and the business of drones – and what the Chinese government is doing to make it all happen – take a look at this story. It reads a little like a puff piece, but it has a good amount of detail to support it.

A couple of thoughtful think pieces. The first one looks at Nest, the smart thermostat company which Google bought for north of US$3B and whose CEO, Tony Fadell just resigned. The premise being that consumers are reluctant to share their data over the Internet of Things. There’s a ‘don’t miss link’ to an excellent survey that the Pew people did in the article. This is definitely an Achilles Heel, that will not be easy to heal for the industry.

There’s a very smart piece by Tom Mayor, a KPMG practice lead looking at 5 things that the aviation industry can learn from Tesla. Unless you keep up with this, you will be amazed to see just how far along AI/deep-learning is.

NATE, which is the National Association of Tower Erectors, came out with a best practices guide for operating around vertical communications infrastructures. What makes this really interesting is the commentary from former FAA Acting Administrator Joseph Del Balzo. If you want to understand how these folks think, here is a quick, concise lesson.

The Olympics kick off next week, and GE will be there with their second edition of #DroneWeek on Facebook streaming five stories including the Opening Ceremony – which apparently has a drone stunt – and the Closing. Well played Team GE. Now let’s hope that all goes well in Rio.

Finally, this week’s Eye-Candy Tag Award goes to the #NYCDFF – the New York City Drone Film Festival. The montage includes cuts from 32 of the 350 entries. Definitely a must see for the range of styles and applications. If you want more, the winners are on YouTube – search 2016 #NYCDFF.

Thanks for reading and for sharing.


Christopher Korody
follow me @dronewriter

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.